They say it's better to be lucky than good. But on Thursday, Fox News host Glenn Beck may have been both. The night before, his pay-for Insider Extreme web site premiered "Rumors of War," an incendiary pseudo-documentary designed to drum up support for conflict with Tehran by claiming, among other things, "now the Iranians are positioning themselves, so they will be able at some point in time, to penetrate the southern borders of the United States with terrorists." Then almost on cue, the next morning a "Fox News Exclusive" ominously reported, "Iranian Book Celebrating Suicide Bombers Found in Arizona Desert." Immediately picked up by the conservative echo chamber, within hours Beck himself was reporting the story.
That extraordinarily happy coincidence for Beck and his right-wing allies started with a new flash from Foxnews.com Thursday morning:
A book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert just north of the U.S.- Mexican border, authorities tell Fox News.
The book, "In Memory of Our Martyrs," was spotted Tuesday by a U.S. Border Patrol agent out of the Casa Grande substation who was patrolling a route known for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs.
Published in Iran, it consists of short biographies of Islamic suicide bombers and other Islamic militants who died carrying out attacks.
But while Fox quoted a Homeland Security statement which cautioned, "At this time, DHS does not have any credible information on terrorist groups operating along the Southwest border," Beck's employer left out some vital information that might cast some doubt on the growing Iranian threat south of the Rio Grande.
Those omissions included the fact that the worse-for-wear copy of "In Memory of Our Martyrs" was written not in Farsi or even Arabic, but in English. Listed on Amazon.com (pictured here), the book was published by Iranian Ministry of Islamic Guidance in 1982, the short book "contains biographies of Islamic suicide bombers, along with final letters they wrote to their families," presumably during Tehran's war with Iraq beginning in 1980.
Nevertheless, as CBS affiliate KPHO Channel 5 in Phoenix reported:
Still, the story has gone viral on the web, with blog posters suggesting this is proof Islamic terrorists who intend to do harm are using our porous border with Mexico to enter the United States.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., called on the Obama administration to secure the border. "If terrorists ever come across our border with nuclear weapons... they (could) hold an entire city hostage," Franks said. "This book is a grave reminder of the mindset and intent of the indescribably dangerous enemy we face."
Within hours of the Fox story, the right-wing blogosphere was doing its best to warn of the reading list of the would-be Muslim martyrs in Mexico. Hot Air and Townhall predictably ratcheted up the warning. Then, Glenn Beck's own web site The Blaze amplified the threat, leading its story with "Fox News has an exclusive report detailing how a book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert just north of the U.S.- Mexican border ." No surprise, The Blaze added a promotion for the Beck's "Rumors of War" documentary, which just happens to be a jeremiad on the same topic.
Editor's note: A portion of the recent documentary, "Rumor of War," released by Glenn Beck deals specifically with this topic. It discusses Iran's infiltration of Mexican drug cartels and the push to enter America through its southern border. That documentary can be viewed here.
By Thursday night, Glenn Beck himself completed the conservative news cycle of life on his own Fox News show:
I want you to know, there are enemies within our own borders. Did you see this FOX News exclusive today? An Iranian book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert. Gee, you think?
The discovery of that book could be very bad news for the people of the United States of America. Or, given its almost miraculously timed appearance in the Arizona desert, very good news for Glenn Beck.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)