- GLENN GREENWALD: Interestingly, Amy, the way that this came to my attention was that there are people inside NBC News, including some very recognizable and high-profile journalists, who were very angry that, first of all, when NBC News with Brian Williams reported on the killing of those four boys on the beach, instead of having their journalist who made this event known to the world and who witnessed it firsthand, Ayman, report on it, they instead had Richard Engel in Tel Aviv do the reporting, and Ayman never appeared at all on the Nightly News broadcast. But that, you can chalk up to sort of standard network news machinations about who’s a bigger star and who’s more senior and the like.
- But what was really stunning was, later that day, after what arguably was his biggest or one of his biggest events in his journalism career, where he really made a huge impact on having the world understand what’s happening in Gaza, they not only blocked him from appearing on the air to talk about it on NBC News, but then they told him to leave Gaza immediately. And when I interviewed NBC executives and the like, none of whom would talk to me on the record but who talked to me on background and the like, they claimed that the reason they told him to leave was because they had security concerns, not specific to him, but just general ones about whether journalists could be safe with the imminent Israeli ground invasion. And yet, as you just said, later that day, they sent into Gaza not only Richard Engel, but also a producer who works for NBC who had never been to Gaza, who doesn’t speak Arabic, who doesn’t know the area at all, in contrast to Ayman, who’s been there for many years, who speaks fluent Arabic and who is a very experienced war reporter. And so it raises very serious questions about what the real reason is that they told him, over his objections, that he had to leave.
- JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Glenn, there have been questions raised about not just whether NBC was concerned about his reporting, but also about his post on social media. Could you talk about that, as well?
- GLENN GREENWALD: What happened on the day that he witnessed the beach attacks was he posted some incredible tweets and, as well, some amazing photos and videos on both his Facebook and Instagram accounts about the reaction of the parents of the Palestinian boys learning right that moment that they had been killed—very, very powerful stuff. And he had also tweeted a couple of what I guess in the network news business is viewed as some unusually pointed tweets about the position of the U.S. government. Namely, the State Department spokeswoman was asked about this killing, and she essentially absolved Israel and blamed Hamas, what the U.S. government always does, even in the most egregious cases of Israeli war crimes. And he went onto Twitter and Facebook and posted some very mild comments essentially noting what the State Department had said and then inviting people to comment on it. And later that day, he deleted it. There’s speculation that he was either asked to delete it or that that was a cause in why he was removed. I don’t know whether that’s the case at all, because there’s still questions about what the real reason is.
- But certainly, the whole context of what has happened here is that he is a very unique reporter, especially for a network news position. You know, the kind of reporting that—the amazing reporting that we just hear from Sharif usually is not the kind of reporting that you hear on the network news. And Ayman does that kind of reporting. And he’s been criticized for it by neoconservative outlets, calling him a Hamas sympathizer and the like. And so, for NBC to remove him at exactly the moment where he brought the humanity of this war and the humanity of Gazans to the world, at the same time that he posted some tweets that in network news land would be considered controversial because it questions the U.S. government and the Israeli position, at the very least, looks awful, and I think, for NBC News’s credibility, demands that they provide some answers about what really happened here.
Thanks for another addition to my blog where I cover Jeff Zucker’s horrible programming decisions.
Jeff Zucker is still the 3rd biggest asshat in American television
Fox has replaced the Sunday massacre with older stories about the Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Veterans Administration, and Hillary Clinton’s book release and presidential aspirations. The producers and editors at Fox News have never been shy about reporting acts of alleged terrorism, even before any evidence has emerged. But for this story they have refused to even refer to the crime as terrorism.
There are some obvious reasons why Fox would skew their reporting and ultimately remove this story from their news coverage. And all of them represent biases that are a long-standing part of what can be called the Fox News Creed: Racism, Guns, Anti-Government, and Tea Party.
First of all, the perpetrators are not who Fox’s racist producers typically profile as terrorists. Rather than being brown-skinned, Muslim, foreigners, the Millers are white Christians from Indiana. So not only would it run counter to Fox’s philosophy to implicate the Millers in terrorism, it would offend their 90% white, right-wing audience.
Secondly, the issue raises concerns about access to dangerous firearms. The NRA constituency at Fox is loathe to focus on such events that make the public uncomfortable with the wild west society that is favored by the gun fetishists and right-wingers who program and watch the network. Fox avoids or downplays most stories about gun violence, but jumps on any report that they can frame as an Obama attempt to repeal the Second Amendment.
Thirdly, Fox is well known for promoting some of the very same political ideologies as the Millers. They have featured guests who advocate secession from the United States, as well as armed resistance to federal law and authorities. An example of that is the recent Cliven Bundy affair where Jerad Miller just happened to show up threatening to use "the language of violence" against representatives of the Bureau of Land Management. Fox has also hyped Republican leaders, like Texas governor Rick Perry, who have made public statements that come just short of declaring secession.
Finally, the Millers’ association with Tea Party groups is something that Fox will work vigorously to excise from the public discourse. The Millers were supporters of the biggest Koch brothers-bankrolled Tea Party organizations (Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks), and openly espoused their anti-government views. It was only a matter of time before people who came to rallies with signs that said "We Came Unarmed - THIS TIME," would keep their promise of violence. Of course, Fox News also supports the same groups and views, and has been instrumental in creating and promoting the Tea Party. In fact, there would be no Tea Party without Fox News. Consequently, Fox is not going to risk alienating such a critical part of their audience.
So why haven’t the center-to-left organized boycotts of Fox News advertisers?
As the former vice chairman of AOL, Mr. Ripp had seen both the possibilities and perils of digital businesses, and his time as a print executive convinced him that historical divisions between editorial and sales were an expensive anachronism. Soon after arriving, he proposed that editors report to the company’s business side, and not to the editor in chief, as they had in the past.
I put the most offensive portion in bold text.
Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Those critics have said that Bergdahl, who had been imprisoned by the Taliban since 2009, risked the lives of soldiers who tried to find him after he reportedly walked off his Afghanistan base.
Several media outlets have reported on these soldiers and their concerns, including Fox News, The New York Times, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Beast. According to a report in Buzzfeed, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his firm Capitol Media have “played a key role in publicizing” these critics.
Grenell served as a spokesman for former U.N. ambassador (and current Fox News contributor) John Bolton in the George W. Bush administration, and also worked for a short time on the Romney 2012 campaign.
The New York Times reported on June 2 that “Republican strategists” arranged for the paper to interview soldiers who served with Bergdahl and have animosity towards him because they believe he is a deserter.
One of the soldiers quoted in the article, Cody Full, sent out a tweet thanking Grenell “for helping get our platoon’s story out.”
Buzzfeed reported that Grenell’s partner at his firm, Brad Chase, confirmed that they were behind the public relations campaign (Grenell also sent out a tweet explaining his firm offered “pro bono services” to the soldiers). Chase disputed the Times’ characterization of his firm as “Republican strategists” because he is not a Republican.
But a radio producer who booked one of the soldiers told Buzzfeed that Grenell was their point of contact for the appearance. Two other reporters confirmed to Media Matters that Grenell put them in contact with the soldiers.
David Zucchino of the Los Angeles Times, who posted an article late Monday quoting Bergdahl’s critics, said he had reached out to Grenell, who personally helped him contact Evan Buetow, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon.
The New York Times' Helene Cooper, whose article identified the source of her interview subjects as “Republican strategists,” said she was contacted on Sunday with information on former platoonmates of Bergdahl who wanted to talk to the paper.
They sure did. Critics pounced on Time's puff piece; interestingly, one of the more helpful pieces came from USA Today (2/19/14), under the headline “Everyone Giddy Over Mexico–Except Mexicans.” It turns out that while Time thinks Peña Nieto is saving Mexico, Mexicans give him very low marks; he has a 32 percent approval rating. And those “reforms” being touted by Time leave many Mexicans wondering if they’ll see any benefit; foreign oil companies might profit from oil drilling, but what will that do for Mexican citizens? And actual growth in 2013 was 1.3 percent–well short of the sunny 3.5 percent growth that was forecast.
One critic, Bill Conroy of NarcoNews (2/17/14), noted that a few weeks earlier Time had published a 14-page advertising spread touting Mexico’s turnaround, sponsored by the government and corporate interests. Conroy argues that Time's journalism and this advertorial bore some striking resemblances. The magazine disagreed, of course; but it's worth recalling that Time, Inc. has already declared that part of the company’s new business strategy will include blurring the line between editorial and advertising (FAIR Blog, 1/2/14). As the New York Times reported (12/30/13), ”The newsroom staffs at Time Inc.’s magazines will report to the business executives.”
Morell is, of course, free to hold those opinions, though given his long tenure at the CIA, it’s not terribly surprising that he sees the world the way he does. What’s interesting, and disappointing, is that CBS thinks their network newscasts need to hear more regularly from someone who believes that the US government should keep a record of every phone call its citizens make and every email they send.
And they’re not the only ones making curious decisions. As Yousef Munayyer noted (Permission to Narrate, 1/4/14), CNN has just hired former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren as a Mideast contributor. Munayyer noted that CNN's coverage of Israel/Palestine had already been tilted in favor of Israeli guests. So why the need to add one more? Will CNN be hiring a contributor to provide analysis from a Palestinian perspective?
These are the kinds of hires that remind you that corporate media aren’t looking to expand the debate on important issues. They’re interested in keeping things as narrow as they already are.