CNN Editor Fired After Praising Hezbollah Leader On Twitter
Late yesterday, CNN fired a long time Middle Eastern reporter and editor over comments she made on Twitter praising a spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah:
CNN on Wednesday removed its senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, Octavia Nasr, after she published a Twitter message saying that she respected the Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.
Parisa Khosravi, the senior vice president of international newsgathering for CNN Worldwide, said in an internal memorandum that she “had a conversation” with Ms. Nasr on Wednesday morning and that “we have decided that she will be leaving the company.”
For her coverage of events like last year’s protests in Iran, CNN had previously called Ms. Nasr a “leader” in integrating social media Web sites like Twitter within its newsgathering process.
Ms. Nasr, a 20-year veteran of the network, wrote on Twitter after the cleric died on Sunday, “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” The ayatollah routinely denounced the United States and supported suicide bombings against Israel.
Some supporters of Israel seized on the Twitter message as an indication of bias. A CNN spokesman said Tuesday that Ms. Nasr had made an “error of judgment” that “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.”
She said she used the words “respect” and “sad” because “to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. She continued, “This does not mean I respected him for what else he did or said. Far from it.”
Which, apparently, discounts from his role in a terrorist army funded by Iran and devoted to such tactics as lobbing missiles into Israeli residential communities and blowing people up in public locations with suicide bombs.
More importantly, though, Nasr’s experience stands as a reminder to anyone with a public profile — what you say on Twitter can come back to bite you.