No balance: CNN slobbers over Peres, grills Meshaal

Israel/Palestine
on 34 Comments
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Wolf Blitzer interviews Shimon Peres

In the news business, interviews are often judged by their ability to generate international headlines. If a reporter asks the right questions he or she can coax their subject into revealing new or previously unknown information to the public. But interviews also reveal a lot about those asking the questions. 

This was particularly clear during the latest violence in Gaza, when on the last day of fighting CNN lead anchor Wolf Blitzer sat down with Israeli President Shimon Peres. At the time, over 150 Palestinians were known to be dead and entire blocks flattened after 8 days of shelling and missile strikes on the densely populated strip from Israeli helicopters, jet fighters, land-based artillery and battleships.

 “You’re close to 90 years old,” Blitzer told Peres in the quiet calm of his presidential office. “It’s hard to believe you look so great. How do you feel?”

 “I feel that I’m too young for the job,” Peres replied coyly. 

But Blitzer persisted. This was not just a one-off nicety. Despite the bloodshed, CNN’s lead anchor wanted to take the charm exchange into the realm of the hypothetical exaggeration, asking if the 89-year-old planned on running for prime minister.

“Don’t you think I’m too young for the job?” said Peres again, smiling. 

Unsatisfied, Blitzer–a former employee of the Israel lobby (when he edited AIPAC’s publication) — repeated: “I think you look great.”

“Is there one piece of advice for our viewers who are watching right now that you want to share on how you’ve managed to stay so youthful, so energetic, so alert all these years?”

This was the opening up Blitzer had hoped for. Finally Peres spoke at length about the virtues of dieting, self-restraint, generosity, optimism even love.

“The best vacation is to work, to be engaged, to be curious, to care, to love people,” Peres concluded, after musing for several minutes.

Thanking the president, Blitzer ended the segment by taking his chorus of praise up an additional notch, transforming the career politician and former military leader into a veritable cuddly grandfather: Once back in the studio, Blitzer reflected:  “Hard to believe he’s 89 years old, almost 90. He’s amazing, amazing indeed.”

Of course many other questions preceded this part of the interview. They had been written almost entirely with a focus on the behavior of Israel’s neighbors and potential threats posed to the Jewish state. Among Blitzer’s questions: Would Hamas be able to control Gaza and comply with the ceasefire? If not, who should Israel negotiate with?

Was he worried about Hezbollah in Lebanon or Assad in Syria. Could the Syrian president lose control of his chemical weapons? Peres was not sure.

What about the role of Iran? Was Egypt playing a productive role? What about the United States. Was it doing enough to help Israel?

Only once during this detailed inventory of Israel’s concerns about the behavior of other nations is Mr. Peres asked about the destruction wrought by his own country’s military. But of course it isn’t framed in those terms. Rather the question is about “what’s happening” in Gaza, divorced of any direct Israeli role.

Blitzer asks unemotionally: “When you see what’s happening in Gaza, the pictures of innocent civilians who have been killed and children, families. What goes through your mind?”

Peres takes the question as an opportunity to blame Hamas, and Blitzer accepts this short response and the moves on to more threats faced by Israel: Hezbollah rockets to the north and the Palestinian Authority’s call for statehood, which Blitzer ponders: “Is that something acceptable to Israel?”

In fact it was the dangers facing Israel that dominated Blitzer’s journalistic curiosity. Nearly all his questions were posed with empathy toward the Jewish state’s struggles–no questioning, in fact no mentioning even, of its own aggressive actions or their motivations. Viewers were placed, so-to-speak, in Israel’s shoes.

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Unhappy body language between Amanpour and Meshaal

Contrast this to an interview conducted with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on the same day by CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

 In terms of challenges and threats, the people of Gaza obviously faced a myriad of them after eight days of punishing bombardments and decades of crippling economic blockade and various restrictions imposed by Israel.

But rather than ask about Gazan concerns as Blitzer had done with Israel’s leader, Amanpour lunged at Meshaal from the outset, firing a triple barrage of indictments: “Is it useful to kill civilians? Is that useful to you? Is it useful to create terror on civilians inside Israel?

Unlike Blitzer who only tepidly posed a question about violence, Amanpour seemed to be putting Hamas on a trial for war crimes. And while Blitzer accepted Peres’ evasive response without question, Amanpour barely listened to Meshaal’s answer, though it nearly mirrored that of Peres in denouncing civilian death and blaming the enemy. 

Hamas was responding to Israel’s assassination of one its leaders, Meshaal explained, adding: “I don’t like to shed any drop of blood.”

But Amanpour continued as if the question had gone unanswered: “Do you think its a legitimate part of what you call resistance to kill Israeli civilians inside Israel,” she repeated, this time pointing the earpiece of her eyeglasses at Meshaal for emphasis.

Again, the Hamas leader tried to explain his attacks as the only resistance available in an asymetrical battlefield yet Amanpour refused to accept it. This time she interrupted Meshaal mid sentence, adopting the Israeli argument of blaming Hamas for Israel’s airstrikes.

“When you make your analysis of how much pain you’re going to inflict,” she continued, squinting with incredulity. “Do you consider….how many Palestinian civilians are being killed because of your actions?” 

Amanpour would interrupt Mishaal nearly a dozen more times during the interview, at one point accusing him flatly of “making up excuses” and later questioning his arguments as illogical, when he demanded a return for Palestinian refugees. 

“Under international agreements, every Palestinian living in the diaspora is not going to be able to come back to Israel,” she said confidently, throwing her hands in the air. But Amanpour offered no reference to said agreement, deeming it only vaguely as “the parameters.” 

In fact, as recently pointed out by Yousef Munayyer, many UN resolutions support the right of return for refugees, and Israel’s refusal to discuss the issue has been one of the main obstacles to resolving the conflict.

 Thus not only did Amanpour’s approach show little of the patience Peres was afforded, she also reserved the right to attack her subject with unspecific and unchecked arguments. Would Blitzer have ever questioned Peres on Jews right to return to Israel?

 As the interview continued, Amanpour hounded Meshaal on Hamas’s recent actions. Why did they move their headquarters away from Damascus? Were they in disagreement with Assad? Certainly they must have distanced themselves from Iran? And yet they were still getting Iranian missiles? Was Hamas involved in a Twitter war, and “is that crazy?” 

Much to the contrary of the Peres interview, the questions focused entirely on the actions of Hamas. There were no questions about the threats it has faced, with countless members of its rank systematically assassinated by Israel, including its founder and former leader. 

 Exasperated by his answers, Amanpour harped: “What is your goal? You govern Gaza. What is the goal, endless resistance, endless fighting, endless death?

 Clearly fond of the term, Amanpour evoked the phrase “endless fighting” or “endless death” five times as a characterization of Hamas, in questions that began to resemble rhetorical statements, with no answer necessary. 

Would Blitzer have dared ask Peres to justify Israel’s “endless” harassment “endless” mass incarceration, “endless” occupation and indeed “endless” war with of Palestinians? In fact, Blitzer did not even interrupt Peres once during the interview, only silently nodding in agreement with his responses.

Instead of pestering the Israeli leader for answers over his government’s decades-old collective punishment of Palestinians, Blitzer pestered him for the secrets of youth.   

 But the climax of dissonance between the two interviews came at the very end, when Amanpour wanted to make absolutely certain the Hamas leader was done with politics.

 “You said you would no longer run to be President of Hamas. And yet you’re still here. Are you going to continue trying to be elected?”

 Meshaal replied by saying he would not accept nomination as Hamas leaders must be nominated.

 Amanpour was not satisfied: “But you won’t accept?”

 Again Meshaal repeated his answer, yet strangely Amanpour persisted:

 “So just to be clear, after this term, no more Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas?

 He replied a third time: “Yes. This is my clear standing.”

 How different a tone than that struck by Blitzer who not only spoke adoringly about his subject, remarking on his “amazing” energy, but even urged him to stay in politics, by suggesting he run for prime minister. Amanpour, on the other hand, wanted to make 100 percent sure she wouldn’t be interviewing Meshaal again. So seemingly relieved by the answer, she would not rest until she had heard it three times.  

The antics of Blitzer and Amanpour, CNN’s two most senior faces, shows the clear favor of Peres over Meshaal. More importantly, the questions aimed at the two leaders reveals an empathy toward Israel’s dangers and little mention of those facing Gazans. However it’s worth noting that the reporting of a few CNN journalists seemed to mitigate against this bias.

 Senior correspondents Arwa Damon, Ben Wedeman and Sara Sidner spent extended periods of time with Palestinians, offering some of the few detailed reports on the hardships of daily life under round-the-clock Israeli air strikes.

These reports were often juxtaposed with the fears faced by Israelis, though they had a billion-dollar missile defense system, alert sirens and readily available bomb shelters for protection, luxuries most Palestinians could only dream of. 

 By constantly juxtaposing the two sides, viewers may have assumed that Hamas and Israel were formidable enemies and their populations equally vulnerable to attacks from the other side. But there were no reports analyzing the asymmetrical power dynamics on the battlefield where the later, a hastily organized guerrilla group, relied on short range largely ineffective rockets; while the former, the world’s fourth most powerful military, wields some of the deadliest weapons known to man.

 Misleading as it may be, CNN seemed to completely abandon this “balanced” policy as it questioned the leaders of the two sides when the smoke had finally begun to clear.

Habib Battah is a Beirut-based journalist and author of the blog www.beirutreport.com He tweets @habib_b

34 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    November 30, 2012, 1:26 pm

    amanpour’s treatment of meshaal was unprofessional, vile, disgusting and completely disrespectful. there’s simply no other way to put it.

    • American
      November 30, 2012, 1:48 pm

      I use to like Amanpour but now I can’t remember why I did….LOL
      All the deceivers are they are….I don’t even listen to them any more and flick the news channels past them except when something big like another Gaza attack or the UN vote happens. And then I only listen out of curiosity to see what bizarre or old or new lies and spin they have come up with. Mostly it’s always the same old crapola we’ve heard a million times before.

    • Roberto
      December 3, 2012, 2:25 pm

      I totally agree with you, Annie

  2. eljay
    November 30, 2012, 1:58 pm

    The MSM portrays Israel as a kind, elderly statesman and Palestine as an unflinching, death-dealing terrorist. Nothing new there.

  3. Taxi
    November 30, 2012, 2:08 pm

    A great report.

    A keen investigation not just on Palestine in American Media, but also on the dark art of mass brainwashing.

  4. mondonut
    November 30, 2012, 2:13 pm

    Unlike Blitzer who only tepidly posed a question about violence, Amanpour seemed to be putting Hamas on a trial for war crimes.

    Why not? Nearly everything they launch from Gaza actually is a war crime. And having no alternatives to war crimes is not an excuse.

    • Accentitude
      December 2, 2012, 6:31 am

      Question, Mondonut. Do you think that Hamas was acting offensively or defensively?

      • mondonut
        December 2, 2012, 11:50 am

        Accentitude says:Question, Mondonut. Do you think that Hamas was acting offensively or defensively?
        ==========================
        The is nothing defensive about the missiles and mortars. They serve no purpose other than to terrorize the Israelis and to boost the morale of Palestinians militants. They cannot “defend’ Gaza.

        Now while it true that they are often retaliatory (not the same as defensive) there is no doubt that the use of these weapons, and the stockpiling of them for future use, is the primary cause of the Israeli attacks.

      • Accentitude
        December 3, 2012, 1:49 am

        So then do you also agree that there was nothing defensive about Israel’s launching of missiles and mortars against the citizens of Gaza? After all, by your own words, they serve no other purpose than to terrorize, and therefore also according to your own definition, couldn’t everything that Israel has launched against Gaza be considered “terrorism”?

      • Accentitude
        December 3, 2012, 1:51 am

        Btw, I also agree that “retaliatory” and “defensive” are not the same at all. These two terms are often unfortunately misunderstood…particularly among MSM.

      • mondonut
        December 3, 2012, 12:38 pm

        Accentitude says: So then do you also agree that there was nothing defensive about Israel’s launching of missiles and mortars against the citizens of Gaza?
        =====================================
        No, Israel’s attacks have been directed at the Gazan militants, their infrastructure and their command and control. The Palestinian attacks have been indiscriminate civilian attacks,

      • Woody Tanaka
        December 3, 2012, 2:10 pm

        “No, Israel’s attacks have been directed at the Gazan militants, their infrastructure and their command and control.”

        Yeah, you can tell by the number of babies you people end up burning to death.

      • Accentitude
        December 3, 2012, 2:21 pm

        Have they really been“directed at the Gazan militants? Seems to me that most of, if not all of, the 154 civilians murdered, including the 11 month old child of a BBC journalist and an entire family were not in fact, “Gazan militants. Their homes were not the command and control centers of Hamas, or do you not agree? Wouldn’t these be clear examples of “indiscriminate civilian attacks” perpetrated by Israel? How about the murder of a child playing soccer infront of his home far away from any militants? What about Gaza fishermen who were killed exactly one week before the conflict flared up?

      • Taxi
        December 3, 2012, 2:37 pm

        So the ten member Palestinian family (R.I.P.) killed by an israeli missile in the latest assault on Gaza was defensive?

        I think you guys are about to find yourselves at the Hague for this particularly unconscionable atrocity.

        Don’t ask me to wish you luck and all that.

      • Accentitude
        December 4, 2012, 2:22 am

        This is probably the point in the argument where Mondonut will recite one or all of the following pieces of rhetoric:

        1. Israel has a right to defend itself.
        2. What would you do if missiles were “raining down” upon you?
        3. Hamas uses human shields
        4. The IDF distributed fliers and sent text messages telling civilians to leave
        5. This is a “war on terror.”
        6. The IDF practices “surgical precision”
        7. The IDF is the “most moral army in the world” and doesn’t kill civilians
        8. Collateral damage is inevitable in any war.

        Let’s wait and see, but really, I think Mondonut is doing quite well at refuting himself. He seems to have hit most of the standard talking points regurgitated by the Israeli government.

      • eljay
        December 4, 2012, 8:46 am

        >> … And having no alternatives to war crimes is not an excuse.

        This applies also to Israelis, yes?

        And, so, you do agree that all Israelis i) responsible for war crimes committed during the creation of the state of Israel and ii) responsible for war crimes committed by Israel over the past 60+ years, must be held accountable for their crimes, yes?

      • mondonut
        December 4, 2012, 1:19 pm

        Accentitude says:Wouldn’t these be clear examples of “indiscriminate civilian attacks” perpetrated by Israel?
        ==================================
        No, they would be clear examples of horrible, horrible mistakes. War is terrible and civilians will always suffer, despite the Israeli attempts to limit their attacks.

        However the true tragedy is that Hamas seeks out these battles while making little to no attempt to protect their own population.

      • mondonut
        December 4, 2012, 1:22 pm

        Accentitude says:This is probably the point in the argument where Mondonut will recite one or all of the following pieces of rhetoric:
        ========================
        So from your snarky tone I guess you think that all of the above are false? Israel has no right to defend itself and collateral damage is not inevitable in any war?

      • mondonut
        December 4, 2012, 1:30 pm

        Taxi says: So the ten member Palestinian family (R.I.P.) killed by an israeli missile in the latest assault on Gaza was defensive?I think you guys are about to find yourselves at the Hague for this particularly unconscionable atrocity.
        ============================
        I honestly believe (and you believe otherwise) that the Israelis had no intent to target that family. And everyone without question agrees that is was a tragedy, more so because Hamas brought the fight upon themselves and the Gazan civilian population.

        And if an act like that brings someone up to the Hague then they will be in a very long line behind the entirety of the Palestinian leadership, all of Nato’s leadership, the ruling party in Syria (remember that place?), the ruling party in Turkey, and all of the US military.

      • Accentitude
        December 5, 2012, 1:34 am

        “No, they would be clear examples of horrible, horrible mistakes. War is terrible and civilians will always suffer, despite the Israeli attempts to limit their attacks. “

        In your analysis, do you really think that Israel was attempting to “limit” its attacks during Pillar of Smoke? After all, Israel prides itself on having the 4th most powerful military in the world, the “most moral army;” the IDF constantly boasts of its “surgical precision” in rooting out the militants. Did any of the devastation in Gaza even remotely resemble “surgical precision” to you? Yeah, innocent people die. No big deal, its part of war. That’s what happens, right? Not quite. It’s no big deal when its Palestinian lives. When its Israeli lives, its a very big deal. A “horrible, horrible mistake” is if I was talking on a cellphone and accidentally ran over your dog. A “horrible, horrible mistake is not when you seek out a non-existent militant that no one has ever heard of and you order missiles to be launched at civilian home, knowing an entire family is living inside, but don’t care because one of them….may or may not be that militant your looking for. Oops, he wasn’t. Oops, that’s not his home. Oops, he doesn’t even exist. Mistake or not, International laws were broken in this situation, hence, its a “Crime.”

        “However the true tragedy is that Hamas seeks out these battles while making little to no attempt to protect their own population.”

        1) Hamas did not “seek out these battles.” The events that led up to these battles are well documented and certainly pre-date “Pillar of Smoke.” The reality is, that Israel claims it has a right to “defend itself” while it also prohibits Hamas, Fatah or any of the Palestinians in genera whether in Gaza or the West Bank from also “defending themselves.” If we are to acknowledge that Israel has this right, then we must also acknowledge that Hamas and the people of Gaza also have this right.

        Since the ceasefire, Israel has not stopped killing innocent Gazans, shooting at fishermen, flying their drones over civilian populations, etc. These are also well documented. Just yesterday, they arrested several fishermen and confiscated their boats, thereby destroying their livelihoods and sole means of a feeble income. You don’t think that’s “seeking out” a battle and hoping that Hamas is going to retaliate again?

        “while making little to no attempt to protect their own population.”

        Hamas firing missiles at Israel is how they protect their own population. Lest we forget, they are under a land, sea, and air blockade by the Israelis and don’t have fancy F-16 warplanes, Merkava Tanks, Hellfire missiles, bunker-busters, cluster bombs, white phosphorous chemical weapons (which by the way were previously used on the civilian population of Gaza, is THAT not a war crime? Saddam Hussein got a rope around his neck for using similar weapons. Why the double standard?), and others.

      • Accentitude
        December 5, 2012, 1:38 am

        “And if an act like that brings someone up to the Hague then they will be in a very long line behind the entirety of the Palestinian leadership, all of Nato’s leadership, the ruling party in Syria (remember that place?), the ruling party in Turkey, and all of the US military.”

        Bravo, you’ve also pulled out the “Deflection” card. That’s also often used by zionists to support their arguments. “What about Syria? Bashar is killing people too?” Yes, and well.. guess what? Bashar will have his day too. The Syrian war will not go on forever. Let’s bring it back to Israel and what they’re doing. If you want to hold the PLO responsible for their actions, go ahead. Let’s clear the table…but the PLO isn’t occupying Israel. Israel is occupying Palestine.

      • Accentitude
        December 5, 2012, 2:07 am

        So from your snarky tone I guess you think that all of the above are false? Israel has no right to defend itself and collateral damage is not inevitable in any war?

        Let’s go through these again, shall we?

        1. Israel has a right to defend itself.
        If Israelis have this right, then Palestinians do too. Palestinians are not occupying and annexing Israel. Israelis are occupying and annexing Palestine. International laws protect the right to resist…in this case: the occupation. If you want to claim that Israel has a right to defend itself, then that defense should be against incoming attacks against Israel, not by conducting offensive campaigns outside of your borders (what are your borders again?),.
        If Israel can say that they will use everything in their disposal to defend themselves, then they should not be surprised when those that they are attacking are also using everything at their disposal to stop the Israeli attack. Plain and simple.

        2. What would you do if missiles were “raining down” upon you?
        For starters, Palestinians are not firing missiles to fire missiles. Put yourself in their place. There is no peace. There is no economy. There is no trade. There are no jobs. Their land is being confiscated. Their people are being killed. Their rights are being denied. They’re being subjected to torture and arbitrary detentions in violation of international laws. …and this is all attributed to the longest running conflict in modern history, the occupation” perpetrated by Israel. Remove all of these things, and you will remove the justification of the Palestinians to fire rockets at Israel, which they see as their only means of retaliation for the crimes you’re committing against them. After that, if they still fire rockets? Ok, then it becomes an unjustified act of war. `Til then, its Israel’s fault those rockets are “raining down” (they’re really not) on them.

        3. Hamas uses human shields,
        Gaza is 41km in length (25 miles), and 6 to 12 km in width (about 3-7 miles); You could probably run the entire length or width of Gaza in a relatively short amount of time. It’s population is almost 2 million people crammed into that space making it one of the most densely populated places in the entire world. Last time I was in Gaza, there were about 1.5 million people living there and yes, it was insanely crowded…especially in the refugee camps. I don’t think Hamas uses human shields. I think that Israel uses that as a cover for killing civilians.

        4. The IDF distributed fliers and sent text messages telling civilians to leave
        This one is easy, and let me use your term here. It’s rather “snarky” to send civilians fliers and text messages telling them to leave when they’re under a land, sea, and air blockade in one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Basically they live in a giant open air prison. Where would you have them leave to?

        5. This is a “war on terror.”
        To the relatives of the family were completely eradicated, it highly likely that if they didn’t have a bad opinion of Isael before, the most likely do now. To them, the Israelis are the terrorists.

        6. The IDF practices “surgical precision”
        Yeah, we all know how that one worked out. 1500+ non-combatants killed during Cast Lead, 154non-combatants killed during Pillar of Smoke. If Israel were a doctor and practices surgical precision, they’d have one hell of a medical malpractice case to deal with.

        7. The IDF is the “most moral army in the world” and doesn’t kill civilians
        See #6. Also the “Most Moral Army” is not an army that was born of terrorist groups like the Haganah, Lehi, Stern Gang and others. There are 65 years of documents cases that indicate that the use of the “most moral army in the world” slogan is false advertising.

        8. Collateral damage is inevitable in any war.
        Yes, yes, it is…but while most countries take care to minimize collateral damage, it seems that Israel gets aroused by it. It’s not enough that they have to kill their enemies, they also have to blow shit up, and destroy every single thing that stands….then make up lies about it to cover their asses in the international community. Like when they justified blowing up UNRWA buildings and schools by saying that UNRWA was providing safe haven for Hamas.

  5. Empiricon
    November 30, 2012, 2:17 pm

    Wolf Blitzer is a product of his environment. His parents fled the Nazis from Poland, he spent early career in Israel where he worked at the right-wing Jerusalem Post. He also wrote for AIPAC. Jonathan Pollard thought so much of him he contacted Blitzer to write his side of the story, a book which reviewer Robert Friedman called “a slick piece of damage control that would make [Blitzer’s] former employers at AIPAC (not to mention Israel’s Defense Ministry) proud.”

  6. Woody Tanaka
    November 30, 2012, 2:26 pm

    I don’t expect anything else. The zio lobby has infested more than merely the government. The news media in this country are part of the establishment which the zionists have by the shorts.

  7. seafoid
    November 30, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Peres looks like he does most of the slobbering these days.

    The MSM in the US are pathetic.

    link to monthlyreview.org

    The most striking lesson from contemporary U.S. election campaigns is how vast and growing the distance is between the rhetoric and pronouncements of the politicians and pundits and the actual deepening, immense, and largely ignored problems that afflict the people of the United States. The trillion dollars spent annually on militarism and war is off-limits to public review and debate.1 Likewise the corporate control of the economy, and the government itself, gets barely a nod. Stagnation, the class structure, growing poverty, and collapsing social services are mostly a given, except for the usual meaningless drivel candidates say to get votes. The billions spent (often by billionaires) on dubious and manipulative advertisements—rivaled for idiocy only by what remains of “news” media campaign coverage—serve primarily to insult the intelligence of sentient beings. Mainstream politics seem increasingly irrelevant to the real problems the nation faces; or, perhaps more accurately, mainstream politics is a major contributing factor to the real problems the nation faces.

  8. john h
    November 30, 2012, 4:18 pm

    Very apt comparison of the two interviews, which together exposed how hopelessly biased and unprofessional CNN really is, especially on this issue. It’s not just about what was broached and how, but what was carefully avoided and omitted, par for the course in msm. All power to RT and Al Jazeera and others.

  9. Ramzi Jaber
    November 30, 2012, 6:16 pm

    simple to understand……..

    blitzer is a zionist israeli tool with an agenda.

    amanpour is a christian iranian with an inferiority complex desperate to always prove (and reprove) her allegiance to her anti-palestinian network masters.

  10. rsmatesic
    November 30, 2012, 6:19 pm

    I wish someone would ask Amanpour whether her reluctance to fawn over Meeshal in the manner displayed by Blitzer in his segment with Peres had anything to do with avoiding an indictment under the Patriot Act. I think her answer could kickstart a very interesting discussion.

    In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 08-1498 (2010), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a provision of the Patriot Act making it a felony to provide “material support” to a “foreign terrorist” organization. In doing so, the court swept aside an advocacy group’s First Amendment challenge to the law, namely, that it impermissibly burdened their efforts to train the PKK and Tamil Tigers to use non-violent legal means to resolve disputes.

    Under § 2339A(b)(1) of the law, “material support or resources” includes any “service, including . . . communications equipment [or] facilities . . .” Because the U.S. defines Hamas (but not Israel, despite what 3 out of 4 Goldstone Report authors say) as a foreign terrorist organization, I’m betting CNN’s producers, editors, and correspondents have at some point been reminded by their legal department that claims made by Hamas are to be met with deep skepticism, if not outright hostility. Meanwhile, CNN can offer Peres, Netanyahu, et al., a worldwide platform from which to spew their terroristic inanities (Dahiyeh Doctrine, anyone?), and no one loses a wink’s worth of sleep over it.

    That said, I don’t believe for a moment that Amanpour would have been anything other than hostile to Meeshal in the absence of the HLP decision. Rather, that in the aftermath of HLP, it should surprise no one that talking heads perceive even less of an incentive to accord any legitimacy to Hamas. After all, why invite an inquiry by the DOJ into whether your communications facilities have supported the purposes of “terrorism” if you don’t have to?

    • jimby
      December 1, 2012, 10:16 am

      fascinating point and probably is more than a little relevant. thanks

  11. Basilio
    November 30, 2012, 9:21 pm

    I used to like Christiane Amanpour, but I don’t anymore. She ruined her career with this behavior. The way she dealt with the Palestinian side shows that she’s clearly prejudiced.

  12. piotr
    November 30, 2012, 10:27 pm

    It reminds me when Ahmedinejad accused American Congress of “kissing feet of [Israeli government]”. Absolutely baseless! As if the elective representatives of American people (and the journalists) had some foot fetish.

    Clearly, in a prudish and oppressive theocracy, even the president is not allowed to publicly identify the body parts that are being kissed. Probably he is not even allowed to allude that such things happen (or that these body parts do exist).

    That said, I had a positive impression about the interview with Meshaal. Like in the case of Rudoren at a funeral in Gaza, I see a strange cultural gap. Rudoren had some difficulties parsing the body language of people from a different nation, which is a bit strange given that she has spend a few months studying the local issues that are different than in Flatbush. That said, she started from reading books (for which she got some flack too). In the case of Habib, he (she?) has somewhat strange expectations about the journalists. I do not know Habib’s background. My expectations were formed in Poland in 1970s, under mildly totalitarian conditions that made news consumers alert to signs of a “thaw” or “sharpening” (I do not have good English equivalents, which already shows the gap between cultures). Amanpour gave a classic “thaw” performance, something that signals coming change — either there will be a “sharpening” soon, or the regime will crumble.

    Thaw or no that, any journalistic product goes to censors. Here question number one: why interview Meshaal at all? Wouldn’t it be better to use some footage of a bearded person giving a fiery speech and provide a properly commented translation what he truly meant (“he mentioned resistance, which means killing every single Jew, including babes in the craddles, from Tel Aviv to Australia”). Under “sharpening”, Amanpour boss could be fired for abysmally lax vigilance and not even a glance would be spared on the interview itself. However, the misbegotten interview happened and Meshaal looks pretty sane and ordinary.

    Presumed events: the tape (or nowadays, the file) goes to the censors, and in the depths of a thaw, very unenthusiastic censors. However, a censor has to go through the checklist. Was the foreign enemy of the people properly introduced as such? No? Where is the wastebasket? However, Amanpour put in the proper introduction and the interview passes the first hurdle.

    Now Meshaal is responding, very low key, quiet and sad, and well prepared. And what does Amanpour do? Does she interrupt the vile propaganda of the enemy? No. Does she signal with her body language how preposterous it is? To the contrary, she seems quiet and sad. What does censor do? Perhaps he just waits until he can jot “proper rebuttal” on the check list while he also listens, quiet and sad.

  13. Avi_G.
    December 1, 2012, 2:33 am

    Amanpour is despicable. It’s not so much CNN, by the way, as it is her. Listen to her at a small forum of 100 or so people and you will quickly realize that she is no different in that setting.

  14. unverified__d2eb0a16
    December 2, 2012, 4:00 am

    This is no isolated incident but policy.

    Check this fluff piece below and compare the treatment of the Pal side vs the Israeli side – every word is calculated.

    link to cnn.com

  15. Accentitude
    December 2, 2012, 6:39 am

    It’s quite disgusting that Peres runs the so-called “Peres Peace Center.” I urge all Palestinian parents not to allow their children to participate in any of the Peres Center’s activities, which treats Palestinian children like little Capuchin monkeys grinding away at the organ for a some little recognition just so Israeli socialites pretending to be “progressive” can feel better about themselves.

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