January 24, 2006

Severin's Blunder

WPHT, Philly's right-leaning "Big Talker" AM station, recently re-shuffled its nighttime lineup, banishing former drivetime host Dom Giordano to late nights and Bill O'Reilly to even later. In their place they've got Boston-based talker Jay Severin, who I listened to for the first time tonight.

Severin started with a familiar rant about how the Democrats can't be trusted on national security. But then he used a couple of examples that weren't quite so familiar. First, he told us about a moment during the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, in which then-Senator Al Gore was questioning Oliver North and asked why North had spent government money on a security system for his home. North replied that it was because his family had been threatened by the world's most dangerous terrorist- Osama Bin Laden. Gore replied that he had never heard of Bin Laden.

His next example concerned a bus bombing that took place in Israel in 1986, in which Palestinian terrorists blew up a bus, and were subsequently captured by the Israelis. The ringleader of the attack was later released, at the behest of President Clinton. His name? Mohammad Atta.

I heard all this and thought it sounded a bit odd. For one thing, Osama Bin Laden wasn't known internationally as a terrorist until several years after the time of the Iran Contra affair. As for Atta, he's not a Palestinian, and why would Clinton be responsible for the release of a terrorist in the custody of Israel? And even more strangely, I follow this sort of thing pretty closely, and I had never heard either story.

I got my answer when I checked Snopes after I got home- both stories are long-ago-disproven internet hoaxes. Here's the North one; here's the Atta one. The Snopes entry for North even includes a statement from Ollie himself disavowing the story. Now, I know talk radio isn't exactly known for its 100% fidelity to factual accuracy- but did no one working for Severin's show have even an inkling that maybe this stuff sounded fishy? Besides, I'm looking forward to the next time Jay bashes "MSM" for "getting the facts wrong."

Posted by Stephen Silver at January 24, 2006 12:28 AM

I received an e-mail long ago containing this b.s. story and had seen it debunked soon after. Steve, glad you put the facts on your blog. It seems these right wing a-holes in talk radio will stop at nothing...

Posted by: Evan at January 24, 2006 09:42 AM

BLOGGER, just say you are a Republican allready. Everything you seem to be into is right leaning...

Posted by: A at January 24, 2006 10:32 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?