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9 Jul, 2010 03:53

Canned CNN reporter becomes the news after controversial tweet

Octavia Nasr, a 20-year veteran for CNN International, is the latest victim to be fired and publicly dismissed for careless use of microblogging website Twitter.

Nasr, a native of Lebanon, was mourning the death of Hezbollah's Shiite Ayatollah Mohammed Sayyed Fadlallah.

The problem is, Fadlallah has been on the FBI's terrorist watchlist since the 1980s, and Hezbollah is designated by the United States as a terrorist organization, which led CNN, flaunting the slogan “the most trusted name in news,” to fire Nasr, issuing this statement:

"At this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward," announced Parisa Khosravi, senior vice president for CNN International newsgathering.

The ability to disseminate news and reactions is almost immediate thanks to the new media: Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites now document instantaneously for the world to see. In some cases, the message is not often clarified and by the time you try to correct yourself, it is already too late.

Nasr is far from being the first or last to be dismissed for stating what some perceive to be controversial political views.

The legend of the White House press corps, Helen Thomas, was forced to resign after making certain comments about Israel. Others, like Phil Donahue and Peter Arnett, were fired in 2003 for questioning the invasion of Iraq.

“Corporate media did not want talk shows on their channels hosted by people who are against the war,” said Donahue.

Guest appearances are also subject to mainstream media scrutiny and censorship. Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, says he was banned from MSNBC for suggesting a host has links to the Democratic Party. On his blog he writes:

"In case you were wondering why you haven't seen me on MSNBC recently, it seems that Joe Scarborough, he of the lowest-rated morning show in Cableland, has blackballed and Phil Griffin, the alleged president of MSNBC, is going along with it," he said.

However, opinions in the news are not out of the ordinary, especially for the US mainstream media.

So why the double standard when news media heads start voicing their opinions or tweet themselves into termination?

Some believe it's solely the message in the opinion and also the need for those figures to be penalized and made examples of for saying things US policy does not exactly subscribe to.

So where is the objectivity? And what politically can you say or do to get yourself fired from your job as a journalist? It seems corporate media has a hold on informing the masses, while silencing the dissent coming from the very journalists delivering us the news.

According to film-maker and blogger Danny Schechter, the limits of Twitter as a news medium as well as America's bias against the Arab World are the main problems in the case of Octavia Nasr.

“I think her intentions were positive but she really did not have the space to actually explain where she was coming from. So, people who do not want any coverage in a positive way of anything in the Arab world are going to jump on her. And they did, and CNN buckled, caved and fired her,” he told RT.