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Ed Driscoll

CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Implodes Via Twitter

July 7th, 2010 - 7:05 pm

Last night we mentioned Octavia Nasr, CNN’s senior editor of Mideast Affairs, who, purely through synchronicity, wound up making a cameo appearance discussing Turkey’s Gaza Flotilla at about 6:25 into “The Cold Civil War,” our most recent Silicon Graffiti. (Soon to also be available at PJTV, incidentally.)

In case you missed last night’s post about her, on the Fourth of July, of all dates, Nasr tweeted:

Last night we rounded up the reaction from Daniel Helper of the Weekly Standard, and Michael J. Totten at Commentary’s Contentions blog. And perhaps surprisingly, despite such conservative condemnation, the brass at CNN itself also wasn’t amused, as Ed Morrissey writes today:

For the third time in the past few weeks, a media figure finds themselves out of a job after comments about their personal perspectives on issues within their coverage got exposed.  The case of Octavia Nasr may be the most disturbing and the most revealing yet.  Unlike the scandals involving Helen Thomas or Dave Weigel, Nasr’s role as senior editor could seriously damage the credibility of a wide portion of a major media outlet’s coverage:

In the latest case of new media (or oversharing) gone wrong, CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr is leaving the company following the controversy caused by her tweet in praise of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah

Mediaite has the internal memo, which says “we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised.”

Nasr tweeted this weekend: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

The memo from Parisa Khosravi, senior VP of their International unit, makes it clear that this was no resignation:

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 you know, her tweet over the weekend created a wide reaction. 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.

Like Thomas, Nasr was not a new face in journalism.  She had twenty years with CNN.  Unlike Thomas, Nasr had a role that helped shape CNN’s overall news coverage of the Middle East.  As a senior editor that apparently reported to a senior VP, Nasr presumably had a hand in story selection, assignment, and editing and shaping the final product from her reporters.

Neither Thomas nor Weigel had anywhere near that kind of influence over news reporting at their respective outlets, which makes the credibility issue much more serious than in the previous two scandals.  After having outed herself as a Hezbollah sympathizer, which is certainly the rational conclusion of Nasr’s Twitter message and subsequent explanation, doesn’t CNN owe its viewers and readers a complete accounting of their coverage in the Middle East and a complete explanation of Nasr’s role  in it?

Hey, Nasr was just carrying on where former CNN propagandist reporter Peter Arnett, soon-to-be departed Christiane Amanpour, and former head honcho Eason Jordan all left off. (Not to mention founder Ted Turner.) Unfortunately, much like Jordan himself when he preposterously declared at Davos in 2005 that US troops in Iraq were deliberately targeting journalists (after admitting that he was perfectly cool working for a former Iraqi dictator who was busy targeting US troops), Nasr also dropped the mask, and eliminated any shred of “objectivity.”

But then, the siren song of instantly expressing your thoughts in 140-character bleats on Twitter (as opposed to this kind of Bleat) does seem to have that effect on leftwing journalists (including several working at CNN) who once held themselves out as “objective,” doesn’t it?

Update: While awaiting the inevitable gig with Al-Jazeera, Nasr might want to console herself with a nice tasty dish of Helen Thomas’ Palestinian Chicken. It’s exploding with flavor!

Update: “CNN’s Octavia Nasr Commits Twittercide.”

Pace the theme song to M*A*S*H, I doubt Twittercide is all that painless.

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