By Ronald Bleier (rbleier@igc.org)

In a letter to The Nation (September 4, 1995), Robert I. Friedman charged Steven Emerson, a journalist with a reputation as an expert on terrorism, of engaging in "strong-arm tactics" as well as "intellectual terrorism" in order to intimidate "journalists and their sources." Friedman's charges came in an exchange of letters to The Nation regarding Friedman's article: "One Man's Jihad", which appeared in The Nation, May 15, 1995.

The following is a section from Friedman's letter.

"Maybe Emerson believed he could deny the screenings ['sneak preview' screenings of his film, 'Jihad in America'] because he had intimidated the viewers into silence. In the days after my article ran in The Nation, he phoned at least four officials at the Israeli Embassy as well as a Washington -based Israeli reporter for Ha'aretz, accused them of being my sources and threatened libel suits. He warned one Israeli that he would ruin him financially in a libel action if he didn't retract statements he supposedly made to me. 'I'll pay you back' for talking to Friedman, Emerson reportedly warned.

"I have never known a journalist to use strong-arm tactics to intimidate another journalist's sources. But intellectual terrorism seems to be part of Emerson's standard repertoire. So is his penchan t for papering his critics with threatening lawyers' letters. On May 17, Washington lawyer Arnold Lutzker faxed The Nation, demanding that Emerson's lengthy original response to my editorial be publ ished in toto, claiming that I had made an 'extensive series of knowingly false representations.' Lutzker obviously intended to put The Nation on notice for a possible libel claim, and muscle the magazine into giving Emerson far more space than it gave my original piece."

Interested people may want to contact such media outlets as PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc., which regularly quote Emerson or print his articles when questions of terrorism ar e in the news. Media consumers might want to inquire if reporters, editors and producers are aware of Friedman's charges against Emerson and whether, if such charges are accurate, they should continu e to show the same credibility and deference to Emerson as in the past.