CNN accused of censoring Palestinian voices in Gaza coverage: report

CNN accused of censoring Palestinian voices in Gaza coverage: report
Unnamed CNN journalists accuse the outlet of biased reporting on Israel's war in Gaza, attributing it to new management and editorial processes.
3 min read
06 February, 2024
CNN staff have called out the network's alleged reporting bias during Gaza war [Getty]

Unnamed CNN staff members have accused the broadcaster of biased reporting on Israel’s war in Gaza, according to reports.

Six journalists from CNN newsrooms in the US and internationally have blamed the outlet's new management and editorial process for pro-Israel narratives that have led to "journalistic malpractice", The Guardian reported.

CNN journalists said the shift followed the recent appointment of the global media corporation's CEO and editor-in-chief, Mark Thompson, who assumed the post only two days after 7 October.

Thompson, who was the former chief executive of The New York Times (NYT) and the BBC’s former director-general, had reportedly been pressured by the Israeli government on multiple occasions.

This included a claim that Thompson was pressured to sack a BBC correspondent from her post in Jerusalem in 2005. 

Additionally, The Guardian’s sources told the newspaper that the Israeli government statements were "taken at face value", whereas quotes from Hamas officials were restricted during CNN coverage. 

One journalist reported that external influences came through before a story was published or broadcasted, including getting approval from CNN's Jerusalem bureau. 

"Many have been pushing for more content from Gaza to be alerted and aired. By the time these reports go through Jerusalem and make it to TV or the homepage, critical changes – from the introduction of imprecise language to an ignorance of crucial stories – ensure that nearly every report, no matter how damning, relieves Israel of wrongdoing," a source told The Guardian

Journalists stressed there had been no interviews with Hamas members since 7 October, and that reports conducted by CNN International - in contrast to US primetime shows - demonstrated "hard-hitting reporting by correspondents on the ground".

A journalist told The Guardian that the CNN channel on the other hand was "marginalised by hours of interviews with Israeli officials and supporters of the war in Gaza who were given free rein to make their case, often unchallenged and sometimes with presenters making supportive statements".

CNN has since denied all claims of partial reporting. 

"We fundamentally reject the notion that our coverage of the aftermath of the October 7th attacks has been anything other than fair," a CNN spokesperson told The New Arab. 

"We have vigorously pursued voices from Gaza and the Palestinian perspective, in addition to Israeli voices, throughout the last four months, including from Hamas."

The media outlet called accusations that it had not approached Hamas members for comments "absurd", adding that CNN "had active bids to do exactly that since the outset of the conflict".

Regarding claims against its reporting, CNN also said its attempts to produce balanced coverage were hindered by limitations imposed by Israeli forces on foreign journalists trying to enter Gaza. 

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"Our internal processes reflect our commitment to accuracy alone, and we have led industry-wide calls for access to Gaza to report from inside the enclave," the spokesperson added. 

"We remain absolutely committed to reporting all sides of this immensely challenging, complex and emotive story."

Last month, US news publication The Intercepaccused CNN of anti-Palestinian bias and claimed its journalists operate "under the shadow of [Israel]’s military censor".

In November of last year, broadcasters such as CNN and NBC had embedded reporters with the Israeli military in Gaza, in return for having all their recordings from the enclave checked and reviewed by the Israeli army before broadcast.

CNN's chief correspondent Clarissa Ward became the first Western journalist to report on Israel's war on Gaza, visiting a UAE-operated field hospital in southern Gaza.