CNN’s Cheerleader for Hizbollah

This is a cross-post from Honest Reporting

CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs professes her respect for an extremist sheikh and spiritual father of a terrorist organization.

“Today we lost a merciful father and a wise guide,” said Hezbollah’s leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, referring to the death of 75 year old Lebanese Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, seen as one of the original spiritual guides of the terrorist organization.

But Fadlallah was being mourned by a far more surprising source – CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs, Octavia Nasr, who Tweeted the following on her personal page:

HonestReporting has previously exposed a former CNN employee who let her personal politics influence her professional life. In that case, former CNN producer Nidal Rafa, a Palestinian, was videoed haranguing current Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon at a media event. Rafa crossed the line from media professional to agenda driven activist, breaching professional media standards and blatantly exposing her personal politics.

In this latest case involving CNN, Octavia Nasr’s Lebanese background should not, in itself, be an impediment to maintaining high journalistic standards. However, we have to question these standards when she expresses her respect for Fadlallah, whom she describes as one of “Hezbollah’s giants”.

Is Nasr a Hezbollah sympathizer? This is disturbing enough given that the group is designated a terrorist organization by the US and is committed to the destruction of Israel. And which of Fadlallah’s individual views does Nasr admire?

Is it Fadlallah’s praise for the massacre of eight Israeli students at Mercaz Ha-Rav Yeshiva in Jerusalem on March 6, 2008? Or perhaps it was the fatwa (religious opinion) to the suicide bomber who attacked the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Fadlallah supported the seizure and hostage-taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, backed suicide bombing attacks in 2002, and praised Iran’s efforts to build long-range missiles as the “pride of the Islamic world” in 2008.

Fadlallah has even engaged in Holocaust denial. In an interview with Al-Manar TV on March 21, 2008, Fadlullah stated:

The Hebrew state is preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary – 60 years since it plundered Palestine – in a festival, which will be attended by the countries of the world, most of which still support the Zionist state and consider the resistance movement to be terrorism. This is what led German Chancellor Merkel to visit that plundering country, which extorted and continues to extort Germany, using as a pretext the German Hitlerist-Nazi past, and the placing of the Jews in a holocaust. Zionism has inflated the number of victims in this holocaust beyond imagination. They say there were six million Jews – not six million, not three million, or anything like that… But the world accepted this [figure], and it does not allow anyone to discuss this.

Is this the sort of extremist figure that CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs should be professing her respect for?

A “Relative Moderate”?

Many obituaries in the international press have described Fadlallah as something of a “relative moderate”. According to Reuters, however, at the hospital when a nurse asked the ailing cleric what he needed, he replied: “For the Zionist entity to cease to exist.”

Octavia Nasr’s position at CNN has been fatally compromised. CNN cannot continue to employ an apparent Hezbollah sympathiser in such a senior post. Please send your considered comments to CNN calling on the news organization to take the appropriate action –

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