Dissatisfaction is rife in CNN’s newsrooms, and many employees are very unhappy with the network’s coverage of the war in Gaza.
Staffers argue that there is a “a systemic and institutional bias within the network toward Israel”, and that they no longer even bother to try to report neutrally or interview Palestinian representatives.
CNN’s daily coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas is governed by a strict set of guidelines that include restrictions on quoting Hamas and other Palestinian perspectives, British The Guardian notes.
Among the staff’s complaints are that Israeli government statements are reported without question and that the network projects an uncritical pro-Israeli image, charges that CNN management denies.
“We fundamentally reject the notion that our coverage of the aftermath of the October 7 attacks has been anything other than fair”, a network spokesperson said, noting that it has presented an accurate picture of the situation.
But CNN sources say it has not conducted any interviews with Hamas since October, even though there is no explicit outright ban on such interviews.
– It is not journalism to say we won’t talk to someone because we don’t like what they do. CNN has talked to plenty of terrorists and America’s enemies over the years. We’ve interviewed Muammar Gaddafi. We’ve even interviewed Osama bin Laden. So what’s different this time? asks one contributor.
Israeli censorship rules
It should also be noted that CNN’s “Jerusalem Bureau”, which is governed by the same rules as the military censorship unit of the Israeli Defense Forces, reviews every piece about the war that is broadcast or posted on CNN’s website.
For example, the Israeli rules governing CNN’s coverage prohibit the publication of information about hostages and weapons captured or seized from Palestinian fighters.
An unidentified CNN employee told The Guardian that these rules have long shaped the network’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict – but have become even more apparent during the current war.
– Ultimately, CNN’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza war amounts to journalistic malpractice, the employee said.
Most American news agencies are doing this but only staff at CNN had the balls to expose it
The system results in … an institutionalised pro-#Israel bias, often using passive language to absolve the [IDF] of responsibility, & playing down #Palestinian deaths & Israeli attacks pic.twitter.com/8IbwQPdg3q
— M.B.I. Munshi (MNZGamerX – Ace Level Troll) (@MBIMunshi) February 5, 2024
Employees with long experience in Israel and Palestine have also stopped reporting on current events from the West Bank because they feel that CNN will not allow them to tell the full story anyway. The network’s editors are also deliberately not assigning such assignments to certain staffers.
– It is clear that some who don’t belong are covering the war and some who do belong aren’t, says another source.
Not allowed to report freely
CNN Editor-in-Chief and CEO Mark Thompson is identified as the culprit behind the pro-Israel coverage. Even as director general of the BBC, he was accused of bowing to pressure from the Israeli government when he ordered the network’s most prominent correspondents out of Jerusalem in 2005 for unclear reasons.
During the current war, Thompson has issued memos to his staff instructing them “always to remind our audiences of the immediate cause of this current conflict, namely the Hamas attack and mass murder and kidnap of civilians” in all contexts where the invasion of Gaza is reported.
– How else are editors going to read that other than as an instruction that no matter what the Israelis do, Hamas is ultimately to blame? Every action by Israel — dropping massive bombs that wipe out entire streets, its obliteration of whole families — the coverage ends up massaged to create a ‘they had it coming’ narrative”, one staffer points out.