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.”

In an explanatory blog post on Tuesday evening, Ms. Nasr said she was sorry about the message “because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all.”

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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    For some reason I have a hard time believing that a guy like Fadlallah was a pioneer in women’s rights. Perhaps that’s what he *told* Ms. Nasr in an interview or something, but I just don’t believe it without solid evidence to the contrary.

  2. Franklin says:

    Okay, okay, Wikipedia indicates this may actually be the case, here’s his views on women and abortion, not very mainstream is the Islamic world:


    Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah was known for his relatively liberal views on women, [30] such as that they are equal to men. He believed that women have just as much of a responsibility towards society as men do, and women should be role models for both men and women.[31] Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah also believed that women have the same exact ability as men to fight their inner weaknesses.[32][33] He saw Hijab as something that makes a man see a woman not as a sex object, but instead as a human being. He believes that women should cover their entire body except for their face and hands, and that they should avoid wearing excessive make-up when they go out in public.[34]

    Fadlallah also issued a fatwa on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women that supports the right of a woman to defend herself against any act of violence whether social or physical. The fatwa reaffirms the rights of women, both at their workplace and at home, and states that Islam forbids men from exercising any form of violence against women and forbids men from depriving women of their legal rights. In his words “physical violence in which women are beaten, proves that these men are weak, for only the weak are in need of unjust violence”.[35] He also issued fatwas (religious edicts) forbidding female circumcision and honour killings.[30]
    [edit] Abortion

    He was opposed to abortion in most cases; however, when the women is in an abnormal amount of danger by the pregnancy, he believed it was permissible.[36]

  3. The Q says:

    She broke the 11th commandment, “thou shalt not speak, write, tweet or in anyway convey anything, anywhere at anytime, regarding Israel unless it is to offer your unmitigated support.

    A few years back, (and I wish I could link the article) an Israeli writer marveled at the obliteration of the USSR a mere 75 years after the Bolshevik revolution.

    His point was that, as inconceivable as this could have been to anyone alive during the height of the cold war (47-86), it happened with astonishing rapidity.

    He next made the case that it could be entirely possible that Israel, which just celebrated its 60th anniversary, would not make it to 75 either.

    The reason being, most people alive at that future date would have no relationship to the Holocaust and its moral hold on contemporary imagination.

    Further, as U.S. influence dwindles, the ability to use America for cover also would greatly diminish and as the rest of the world turns to harshly condemning right wing Likud tactics,
    its leverage in the world community will be drastically changed.

    Israel would truly be a pariah state (ala apartheid RSA) and, together with the explosion of Arab and Palestinian population, would face a far different world than the obsequious one it now controls.

    Also, the ethnic character of the U.S will be different too in 20 years, with WASPS a distinct minority. Much of AIPAC’s influence will be gone and with it the unqualified support for all things Israel in the Congress and UN.

    Oh, and one other thing, this whole Jewish cabal/influence is BS. The white boys run the global world and the Jews manage it.

    When things get dicey for the white boys, they revert to the old reliable, “lets scapegoat the Jews” shtick…and get this, it usually works.

    I had one Jewish friend say to me, “the reason people don’t like us is because we are smart and successful and they are jealous of our success..”

    I replied, “if you are so smart, who was pulling who out of the ovens?”

    My point being that Jewish hubris is always used by the true powers that be for their own ends.

    I can foresee a future in the U.S. when, as the Holocaust becomes a dim memory, the powers that be will “blame” our close ties with Israel as the reason for (fill in the blank) problems.

    And then of course the scapegoating with its inevitable consequences will arise.

    I know this sounds inconceivable, but who would have thought in 1981 after the KAL jet was shot down, that a scant 8 years later, the Wall would come a tumblin’ down without the use of neutron bombs or NATO tank forces etc?

    Or who would have thought, in 1987, after the Sharpestown massacre in South Africa, that a scant 7 years later Nelson Mandela would be wearing a Springboks jersey aht the Rugby World Cup as the newly democratically elected President of SA?

    Things can change in a nano second and the survivability of Israel into the next decade is not necessarily assured, especially when they are so intent on bringing on their own demise by actions such as this which displays in full their arrogance and intolerance.

    As a supporter of Israel, I hope they heed the warnings and come to peace soon for their own good.