CNN is facing backlash from some of its own staffers who allege there is “a systemic and institutional bias within the network toward Israel,” according to a report.
CNN’s daily news coverage of the Israel-Hamas war is guided by a strict set of directives that include restrictions on quoting Hamas and other Palestinian perspectives, according UK news outlet The Guardian.
Meanwhile, staffers gripe that statements from the Israeli government are taken at face value, according to the outlet, which cited accounts from six CNN newsrooms in the US and abroad, as well as internal memos and emails.
“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 said in a statement to The Post.
“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 spokesperson added that the network’s “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.”
CNN sources told The Guardian that the network hasn’t conducted any interviews with Hamas since October, adding that the network does not have a ban on such interviews.
“It is not journalism to say we won’t talk to someone because we don’t like what they do. CNN has talked to plenty of terrorists and America’s enemies over the years. We’ve interviewed Muammar Gaddafi. We’ve even interviewed Osama bin Laden. So what’s different this time?” one CNN staffer said.
In another example of the reported guardrails, CNN’s so-called Jerusalem bureau reviews every story the network broadcasts on live television and reports on its website on the Israel-Gaza war.
CNN’s Jerusalem bureau is subject to the same rules followed by the the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Censor unit, The Intercept reported.
This IDF unit’s rules — which dictate subjects that are off-limits for news organizations and include information about hostages and weapons captured by fighters in Gaza — have long guided CNN’s coverage under a long-standing policy at the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned network, according to The Intercept.
One unidentified CNN staffer told The Guardian that institutional rules like these have shaped the network’s coverage of the longstanding Israel-Gaza conflict, but has especially influenced CNN’s coverage since Hamas’ ambush attack on Oct. 7.
“Ultimately, CNN’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza war amounts to journalistic malpractice,” the worker told the outlet.
Other staffers told The Guardian that despite experience reporting on Israel and Palestine, some journalists have avoided reporting on current events in the West Bank because they believe CNN will not allow them to tell the whole story.
Additional reporters believe senior editors are purposefully not assigning the, to stories on the war, The Guardian reported.
“It is clear that some who don’t belong are covering the war and some who do belong aren’t,” a CNN insider told the outlet.
CNN’s journalists also pointed a finger at its editor-in-chief and CEO Mark Thompson’s “tone,” which they say has something to do with the network’s pro-Israel skew.
Thompson — a veteran news executive who began at CNN on Oct. 9 after leaving his post as chief of The New York Times — had been accused of bowing to pressure from the Israeli government while serving as the director-general of the BBC more than a decade ago, when he yanked one of the British broadcasting giant’s most prominent correspondents from her post in Jerusalem in 2005, according to The Guardian.
At Thompson’s first editorial meeting just days after Hamas’ attack — which killed roughly 1,200 people and saw about 240 other taken hostage — he said CNN’s coverage of the rapidly-advancing story was “basically great,” The Guardian reported.
He later emailed his workforce a two-page memo obtained by The Guardian that instructed reporters to note the historical context of the story by continuing “always to remind our audiences of the immediate cause of this current conflict, namely the Hamas attack and mass murder and kidnap of civilians.”
One staffer said in response to Thompson’s memo, according to The Guardian: “How else are editors going to read that other than as an instruction that no matter what the Israelis do, Hamas is ultimately to blame? Every action by Israel — dropping massive bombs that wipe out entire streets, its obliteration of whole families — the coverage ends up massaged to create a ‘they had it coming’ narrative.”