CBS This Morning host Nora O’Donnell released a tweet yesterday highlighting how easy it is to misrepresent statistics to push an agenda.
O’Donnell tweeted out a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study investigating domestic terrorism. “Between the end of ’01 & Dec. ’16 there were nearly 3 times as many fatal attacks by right-wing extremists than Islamist extremists in US,” it read. O’Donnell’s tweet was, without a doubt, extremely misleading.
However, what O’Donnell failed to mention is that the GAO study only counted domestic terror attacks committed between September 12th, 2001 and December 31, 2016. The only explanation for deliberately ignoring the largest terror attack in American history is to push the myth that Islamic terrorism is overstated, while right-wing extremism is out of control.
The GAO study concluded that “of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right-wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).”
CBS reported the study during a segment Monday night. However, they failed to delve into the data and reported a misleading statistic to push their narrative. A closer examination of the GAO study reveals that while there were fewer Islamic terror incidents than those of right-wing extremists, the few Islamic attacks were much more deadly– even if you ignore the September 11th attacks.
While radical Islamic terrorism was responsible for only 23 percent of “incidents,” it was responsible for more total deaths than right-wing extremism, accounting for 53 percent of deaths.
While CBS misrepresented the data, the GAO study was based on extremely flawed assumptions. First of all, it is troubling that the study ignored the September 11th attack. However, GAO further biased the data by relying on a rather broad definition of right-wing extremism and an overly narrow definition of Islamic terrorism.
The GAO study defined Islamic extremists as “those who professed some form of belief in or allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qa’ida, or other (radical) Islamist-associated terrorist entities.” GAO identified Islamic extremists “based on statements made by attackers prior to, during, or after their attacks.” Suspiciously, this definition ignores honor killings and the killing of apostates.
On the other hand, the GAO study defined right-wing extremists as exhibiting any of the following beliefs: fierce nationalism, anti-globalist, pro-small government, acceptance of conspiracy theories, and promotion of white supremacy.
A large portion of the “incidents” reported in the GAO study as examples of right-wing extremism are murders conducted by various white supremacist prison gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood or the Nazi Lowriders, according to American Thinker.
Essentially, murders motivated by an adherence to Muslim beliefs were downplayed by only considering attacks where the perpetrator actively supported a known terrorist organization. On the other hand, right-wing extremists took the blame for prison gang violence.
The reality is that white supremacy overall is on the decline while Islamic terrorism is on the rise. The Anti-Defamation League admitted this in an inventory of white supremacist prison gangs. The report found that “white supremacist prison gangs have constituted the fastest-growing segment of the white supremacist movement in the United States. While some other segments, such as neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, have suffered stagnation or even decline.”
The truth is, right-wing extremism is only a problem when you include prison gangs, while radical Islamic terrorism resulted in 32,700 deaths worldwide in 2014. CBS failed to make that clear in their blatant attempt to mislead the public.