Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren dropped as CNN ‘analyst’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren on CNN.

Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren on CNN.

CNN has changed former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren’s title from “analyst” to “ambassador” when he appears as a guest on the network. Sources knowledgable of the situation told me that the move comes after internal dissent within CNN that Oren’s classification as an “analyst” was not suitable.

CNN spokesperson Edie Emery confirmed the change in an e-mail, though she did not get back to me on whether the change was a result of internal grumbling. “Mr. Oren is no longer appearing as a CNN analyst and instead as a guest. This was at his request,” Emery told me.  

One source says that some staffers comfortable with him being an Israeli voice among many other voices were alarmed when he morphed into an “analyst.” Now Oren’s title when he appears at CNN is as a former “ambassador”–the same title CNN used before he signed onto the network as a contributor in January. 

It seems that changing Oren’s title back to “ambassador” reflects that Oren’s talking points lined up with what the Israeli government was saying–particularly over the last month as Israel waged an assault on Gaza.

Throughout July, as Israeli bombs blanketed the Gaza Strip, Oren frequently appeared on CNN. Most of the time he was introduced as a “CNN Middle East analyst,” along with being called the former ambassador. But according to transcripts published by LexisNexis, starting on July 29, he began to be referred to only as the “former Israeli ambassador to the U.S”–and not an “analyst.”

In January, CNN announced that Oren would be joining them. The Jerusalem Post reported that Oren “signed a contract with CNN.” It’s unclear what the status of Oren’s contract is today; CNN did not respond to questions about whether Oren was paid and, if he was paid, how much it was.

The New Jersey-born Oren served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2009-2013. His joining CNN raised eyebrows among media watchers like The Palestine Center’s Yousef Munayyer, who wrote that having Oren join the team would make CNN’s already lopsided coverage in favor of Israel even worse. In 2012, after another Israeli assault on Gaza, Munayyer published a study showing that CNN had on Israeli government guests much more frequently than Palestinian guests.

Oren had been a frequent guest on CNN long before he was hired in January to provide what he described to the Jerusalem Post as “balanced but insightful commentary on pressing Israeli and Middle East issues.” 

But it’s some of his more recent appearances as an “analyst” that have sparked controversy. In May, two Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli troops while demonstrating on Nakba Day, the day that commemorates Israel’s expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the wars around the country’s creation. Video cameras captured their deaths, leading to outrage around the world.

When CNN host Wolf Blitzer had Oren on to discuss the killings, the former ambassador and CNN analyst questioned whether the Palestinian teens were really dead. Oren said “we don’t know” for “certain” whether the two boys were killed and said:

The many, many inconsistencies, you see two young people who were supposedly shot, one to the chest, one through the back but they both fall in the same way. They fall forward which is inconsistent with what we know about combat deaths..

The way the bodies fall, the fact that there’s no blood, someone who was hit in the back and a bullet has an exit wound, there is a tremendous amount of bleeding. There’s no bleeding in the picture. There are many, many inconsistencies. 

And as we reported here, in July, Oren appeared on Erin Burnett’s show on CNN to discuss whether the network’s coverage of civilian casualties in Gaza was fair. “What Hamas does want to do is drag Israel into a conflict in Gaza to get Israel to kill large numbers of Palestinian civilians,” Oren said. “Journalists quite naturally will want to capture those images. The images are tragic, they are lurid, but they also make headlines.”

In response, CNN’s Karl Penhaul, who reported on the ground in Gaza, said: “I think that any reporter and any of our colleagues would believe that it was obscene to suggest that we are showing the bodies of wounded, the dead and the dying, to make headlines.”

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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24 Responses

  1. just
    August 7, 2014, 9:33 am

    Good news, Alex. Great effort People!

    Can we lower the profile of wolf, Kate Bolduan and Bobby Ghosh as well?

    • Daniel Rich
      August 8, 2014, 7:34 am

      @ just

      Q: Can we lower the profile of wolf, Kate Bolduan and Bobby Ghosh as well?

      R: shoot the first [depending on what state you live in, of course], turn the 2nd one in to a ‘Open Font’ and serve the third as ‘Gnash.’ Problem solved.

  2. Kay24
    August 7, 2014, 9:50 am

    For once CNN has done the right thing. Oren was a disaster for them and anyone could have seen he was lying or evasive when he was asked about Israel’s numerous war crimes. He even pretended he could not hear when Andrea Mitchell asked him about Israel eavesdropping on Kerry during peace negotiations. He looked comical.

    OT but Bibi Netanyahu is begging Congress for help to get him out of the war crimes accusations to come at the ICC. Seems like the war monger knows the slaughter of civilians has got the world’s attention, and he knows they acted brutally and deliberately, when they blew Gaza up, including so many civilians. This time Bibi is caught with his pants down. The entire world witnessed it.
    Guess who is trying to protect Bibi’s behind, it is none other than Steve Israel (NY)
    the most devoted of them all. He is so shameful. He should stay there in Israel.

    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked United States legislators to assist Israel in fending off charges that Israel committed war crimes during its month-long operation in Gaza, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.

    “The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the International Criminal Court does not succeed,” Democratic congressman Steve Israel told the Post by phone from Tel Aviv.

    Israel was one of a group of American lawmakers who met with Netanyahu in Israel on Wednesday.

    Palestinian leaders met with ICC officials in The Hague this week, preparatory to making a formal application to join the international tribunal.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.609436

    • Marnie
      August 7, 2014, 10:12 am

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked United States legislators to assist Israel in fending off charges that Israel committed war crimes during its month-long operation in Gaza, the New York Post reported on Wednesday. “The prime minister asked us to work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the International Criminal Court does not succeed,” Democratic congressman Steve Israel told the Post by phone from Tel Aviv.

      Reading this made me think of The Godfather, Part 2, where Michael is appearing before a senate investigating committee about the mafia. I can’t remember the name of the guy who was going to rat him out, but he went silent when Michael’s consigliori arranged for the so-called rat’s brother to come in from Sicily and shame him into silence, and the mafioso got off.

      Sorry Bibs, the US might not be able to get your ample behind out of this particular sling as the US might have to start doing some major damage control themselves! I can always hope.

      • Kay24
        August 7, 2014, 11:39 am

        I hope the Palestinians stick to their resolve, and indeed go to the ICC.

        No amount of bribing and arm twisting by the US should deter them.

      • Marnie
        August 8, 2014, 6:27 am

        I agree – the US better sit this one out and not “work together to ensure that this strategy of going to the International Criminal Court does not succeed”. Can you believe the gall?

  3. talknic
    August 7, 2014, 10:02 am

    Who will replace him? A better liar…..

    • John O
      August 7, 2014, 10:07 am

      Didn’t say anything about dropping him, or have I missed something.

  4. Mooser
    August 7, 2014, 10:12 am

    “Who will replace him? A better liar…..”

    Hophmi is getting a trim and making sure his shirt is clean, and trying to sponge the gravy-stains off his Star-o-David tie. He’s ready! On his first show, he’ll explain that Polpotive Edge was all a hoax by the Gazans, involving thousands of gallons of Mondoweiss supplied ketchup, smuggled through tunnels.
    “And so” concludes Hophmi, “because of Hamas, American schoolchildren will not get their vegetables!”
    Or so says the Dirty Animals!

    • ahmed
      August 7, 2014, 10:37 am

      Mooser, I wish there recommend buttons so I could recommend all your posts. :-)

      • Mooser
        August 7, 2014, 4:47 pm

        “Mooser, I wish there recommend buttons so I could recommend all your posts”

        That’s very nice, thanks. This dirty animal thanks you.

      • hophmi
        August 8, 2014, 12:49 pm

        How many former US generals does CNN have signed as analysts?

  5. globalconsciousness
    August 7, 2014, 10:28 am

    Senator David Norris asks for the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Ireland – he has his fingers in his ears all the time…

    • Chu
      August 7, 2014, 11:17 am

      great. this should be an instructional video for US congress. lol.

    • Kay24
      August 7, 2014, 11:24 am

      Excellent!!!! I enjoyed listening to this great man, stand up and say exactly what we are thinking here. I wish we had the same type of leaders in our congress, instead of a spineless lot that bends over backwards for their mothership. A very passionate speech, and one could feel the same outrage listening to his words.
      Thank you for linking.

      • Elliot
        August 8, 2014, 7:59 am

        Wonderful stuff!
        He knows Israel and has Jewish connections yet is fearless in going after Israel.
        Thank you for posting this.

    • amigo
      August 7, 2014, 11:26 am

      Well done David Norris.

      Glad Charlie (buddy of Israel) Flanagan, our heartless FM had to sit there and listen.

    • eGuard
      August 7, 2014, 12:55 pm

      Can anyone name that politician, at 3:14, who is concerned about her whatsapp?

  6. Justpassingby
    August 7, 2014, 10:39 am

    Not sure how this change anything.

    Will Oren change his views? No
    Will Oren be on CNN less? No

    • Bumblebye
      August 7, 2014, 1:10 pm

      jpb
      Simple – “analyst” tends to sound somewhat neutral to a (fairly uninformed) viewer/listener whereas former ambassador is quite emphatically not a remotely neutral position.

  7. Tuyzentfloot
    August 7, 2014, 10:40 am

    When CNN host Wolf Blitzer had Oren on to discuss the killings, the former ambassador and CNN analyst questioned whether the Palestinian teens were really dead. Oren said “we don’t know” for “certain” whether the two boys were killed and said:

    he said they were pining for the fjords? It was as if the shopkeeper in the dead parrot sketch had become a CNN analyst.

  8. seafoid
    August 7, 2014, 11:12 am

    No point in having a hasbara bot as an analyst. One Regev is enough.

  9. NickJOCW
    August 7, 2014, 11:17 am

    Though the mills of God grind slowly;
    Yet they grind exceeding small;
    Though with patience he stands waiting,
    With exactness grinds he all.

  10. rationalist
    August 7, 2014, 1:00 pm

    It’s amazing to me that many networks still get criticized for being biased toward Palestinians. Which is frankly ridiculous and a gross inversion of reality. For instance, The Situation Room is CNN’s flagship program and it’s hosted by Wolf Blitzer, a former AIPAC employee and an ardent supporter of Israel.

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