CNN has long seemed to harbor an animus toward the Jewish state. But last year it came under new leadership, and there was hope that it would improve its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians. Alas, that did not happen. More on this subject can be found here: “CAMERA Op-Ed: CNN Abandons Professional Journalism,” by David Litman, CAMERA, May 11, 2023:
When CNN came under new leadership last year, the message to the public was that the network wanted to “rebuild trust as a non-partisan news brand.” At the time, David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, spoke proudly of his vision of CNN’s journalism “doing what journalists do best, which is to fight to tell the truth…” Unfortunately, some at CNN seem to be fighting something else – accountability for shoddy reporting.
Take, for example, CNN’s silence over an overtly antisemitic cartoon that remains on its website despite numerous emails, phone calls, and social media posts directed at the network. There have also been articles in both Jewish and major national media outlets expressing criticism and disgust and a video exposé. The cartoon – published uncritically – portrays Jews celebrating Passover surrounded by a sea of blood, an unmistakable reference to the centuries-old blood libel that Jews use the blood of murdered gentile children for rituals or in the matzah they bake for Passover. Even The Guardian, an outlet known for regularly minimizing the problem of antisemitism, had the ethical sense to respond and take down a similarly antisemitic cartoon.
But the response from CNN? Crickets.
A cartoon showing Jews celebrating Passover in a sea of blood – a clear reference to the blood libel that goes back to the Middle Ages, when Jews were accused of killing Christian children and using their blood to bake matzoh. A cartoon, in other words, worthy of Der Stürmer was put up on the CNN website, and despite all kinds of protests – emails, phone calls, social media posts, despite articles about the cartoon’s offensiveness in both Jewish and national media, CNN stubbornly refuses to take the cartoon down, or even to explain why it refuses to do so. The only conceivable explanation is that someone — or perhaps several someones — high up at CNN is simply an antisemite, and is not appalled by, but rather likes, this blood libel against Jews on the CNN website.
Another recent example suggesting a shocking disregard for accountability came courtesy of Christiane Amanpour. During an interview with a former Israeli ambassador, the longtime CNN personality seemingly fabricated polling data to suggest “the latest polls” show the Palestinian people “want a peaceful, two-state solution to co-exist” with Israelis. Yet every single poll CAMERA could find taken by Palestinian pollsters consistently showed the exact opposite – a substantial majority against a two-state solution.
What was CNN’s response to calls for evidence of the anchor’s glib claim? Silence.
Christiane Amanpour confidently asserted that “the Palestinian people want a peaceful, two-state solution to co-exist,” but her factoid was false. Every single poll of the Palestinians shows that the vast majority are against a “two-state solution” and continue to want a “Palestine” exclusively for Arabs, that will include all the territory “from the river to the sea.”
When CNN was contacted to provide evidence for Amanpour’s claim, since no poll of the Palestinians support her claim, instead of forthrightly admitting she had been mistaken, she simply refused to reply.That’s what is called “stonewalling” and has no place in a reputable news organization.
Amanpour is the best-known, but hardly the only offender at CNN when it comes to covering Israel. There is CNN’s correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, whose coverage of the murders of Lucy Dee and her two daughters left much to be desired, as CAMERA has noted:
Even more recently, CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen described in these words an incident in which terrorists shot at a car with an Israeli mother and her two daughters (and then pulled the vehicle closer to fire at close range to make sure the women were dead):
“There was a shooting incident where a car received a bullet shot, or gunshots, with the family in it. It was a mother and her two daughters, and the two daughters were killed in that crash.”
The evasive, circuitous wording stood in stark contrast to his direct description in the same broadcast of the shooting death of a Palestinian, in which he plainly stated, “the Israeli military shot and killed a 15-year-old boy.” Despite a message from the correspondent that he was aware of the criticism, the communication ended as soon as the topic of publicly addressing and correcting the issue was raised.
Think of the difference. The active voice was used for those wicked Israelis, who “shot and killed a 15-year-boy.” There was no mention by Pleitgen that the 15-year-old boy had been throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers, attempting to set them on fire.
The passive voice, however, was used for the deliberate murders of Lucy Dee and her two daughters: “There was a shooting incident.” Not a “killing.” A “shooting incident.” And “a car received a bullet shot.”What a bizarre construction. And then that car that “received a [presumably single] bullet shot” just happened to have “the [Dee] family in it.” The way the account was phrased leaves one with the impression that the mother emerged unscathed, because she is not mentioned as a victim; Pleitgen says only that “the two daughters were killed in that crash.” Nor were the daughters “killed” in a car crash. Their car crashed after they had been shot to to death by a Palestinian terrorist, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. After the crash, he kept firing; the victims were reportedly shot a total of 22 times. That does justice, unflinchingly, to the event. Pleitgen’s account was a travesty of the truth.
Here is how CNN”s Frederik Pleitgen ought to have reported the story: “A Palestinian terrorist with a Kalashnikov shot and killed an Israeli mother, Lucy Dee, and two of her daughters, Maina and Rina, as they drove through the West Bank on April 7.”
Christine Amanpour has quite a history of anti-Israel animus. This past January, she interviewed an Israeli documentary film maker, Dror Moreh. Toward the end, Amanpour asked Moreh:
“You are an Israeli. I don’t know whether you were in Israel at the time, but you said that this red line in the neighboring country of Syria, where all these atrocities were being committed really, really made you angry and upset. Many will want to know, you know, do you feel equally angry about the horrible situation that’s going on in your own country, and the human rights attacks, killings of Palestinians. Obviously, we know Israelis are also attacked, but what is your perspective, as an Israeli, given the whole “never again” paradigm in which you place this investigation?”
An article on Amanpour at CAMERA.org provided a dozen examples of her palpable want of sympathy for the Jewish state.
Before delving into the appropriateness of comparing the justifications for the Syrian regime’s attacks on its own citizens versus Israel’s measures to defend against terrorism, let us first put in perspective the scale of the violence.
The United Nations estimates that in ten years of conflict in Syria, over 306,000 civilians (not including combatants) have been killed, or about 30,000 a year.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed in total from December 1987 (the start of the First Intifada) to May 2021 approximately 14,000 Israeli and Palestinian lives, including both civilians and combatants. That’s about 400 per year, which includes particularly deadly periods like the Second Intifada and the various wars and operations against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Put another way, the Syrian civil war cost more than twice as many lives in a single year – without even counting combatants – as have been killed in 34 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
There simply is no comparison.
But even beyond just the numbers, Amanpour’s comparison is morally obscene and dripping with partisan framing. Syrian regime atrocities are not just atrocities because of the sheer scale of civilian casualties. They are atrocities because the Syrian regime targeted civilians, barrel bombing hospitals and dropping chemical weapons on civilian areas.
CNN may be under new leadership, but it will continue to appall as long as it allows such people as Christine Amanpour and Frederik Pleitgen to mold the minds of millions on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians. What would it take to convince David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, who has spoken proudly of his vision of CNN’s journalism “doing what journalists do best, which is to fight to tell the truth,” that Amanpour and Pleitgen have demonstrated that when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians they are unable to meet that standard, and both deserve to be treated as Fox treated Tucker Carlson – that is, they should be swiftly shown the door?