- 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.
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.”
After appearing on SNL in the 80’s, Jackson had largely faded from public view until she reshaped herself in recent years as a tea party activist and conservative bomb-thrower. Her proclamations that Obama is definitely a communist and possibly the Antichrist sparked something of a second career, leading to a stint as a columnist for conspiracy website WND, a web-TV series, occasional Fox News interviews, and regular appearances at conservative and tea party events.
This week, Jackson ”filed to run as an independent candidate for a seat on a county commission outside Nashville, Tenn.”
During an interview promoting her book on Fox News last year, Jackson told Bill O’Reilly that while she had always been a Christian, she was apolitical until 2007 when she discovered an “underground conservative group of people” in Los Angeles that “educated” her about how a communist named Barack Obama was running for president. A Miami New Times profile of Jackson from 2012 tracing her journey from SNL to the tea party explains that while she refuses to name the “secret organization” that helped awaken her political side, she “is clearly talking about Friends of Abe,” a group of conservative celebrities whose members reportedly include Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer, Pat Boone, and Gary Sinise.
After this political awakening, Jackson took to political blogging, making headlines in 2008 for writing on her website that Obama “bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ” and asserting that it was important to “ask if Barack Hussein Obama could be a Muslim terrorist sympathizer or a Marxist mole.” Despite her extremism and nonsensical political views, she was nonetheless quickly absorbed into the conservative movement, appearing in an October 2008 National Republican Senatorial Committee ad attacking her former SNL colleague Al Franken
Jackson’s fledgling conservatism was apparently heavily influenced by Fox News and its fever swamp coverage of Obama’s first term.