CNN fires ME editor over tweet

Octavia Nasr mourns death of Shi'ite leader Fadlallah.

By
July 9, 2010 01:26
2 minute read.
Octavia Nasr

Octavia Nasr 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Three days after posting a message on her Twitter account expressing sadness at the death of the Lebanese Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, Octavia Nasr, was fired from the international news network.

“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hizbullah’s giants I respect a lot,” Nasr wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

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The comment touched off a firestorm of controversy.

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Nasr’s 20-year career in the news network ended after CNN executives concluded that “her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised,” according to an internal CNN memo published by the Mediaite Web site on Wednesday night.

Nasr had attempted to limit the damage caused by her Twitter message by posting a detailed message on her CNN blog, in which she expressed regret over what she described as as “an error of judgment.”

Nasr added that she regretted writing “such a simplistic comment and I’m sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work.



That’s not the case at all.

“It is no secret that Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah hated with a vengeance the United States government and Israel. He regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens. And as recently as 2008, he said the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust were wildly inflated. But it was his commitment to Hizbullah’s original mission – resisting Israel’s occupation of Lebanon – that made him popular and respected among many Lebanese, not just people of his own sect,” Nasr said.

CNN executives found the explanation to be insufficient.

CNN senior vice president: Octavia compromised her credibility

Parisa Khosravi, senior vice president of CNN international newsgathering, said in the internal memo on Wednesday, “I had a conversation with Octavia this morning and I want to share with you that we have decided that she will be leaving the company... As she has stated in her blog on CNN.com, she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever. However, at this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.”

Political and media commentator Tom Gross told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “It was wrong of Nasr to praise Fadlallah, who was among other things a Holocaust denier, on Sunday. It was right of her to apologize on Tuesday.

But it was probably an overreaction by CNN to fire her yesterday over a tweet, and after she had apologized. There are other reporters who are far more prejudiced against Israel at CNN and even more so at the BBC and other networks, that deserve to be fired before Nasr was.”

Prior to her sacking CNN issued a statement to the ADL in which it criticized Naser’s tweet. Responding to CNN’s statement, the Anti-Defamation League published its own statement, saying it was pleased with CNN for “making clear that her action did not meet the network’s editorial standards. Nasr herself has recognized that the tweet was a mistake.

“We commend CNN for taking this as a serious matter and dealing with it immediately,” the ADL added.


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