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Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in International, Media | 1 comment

CNN reassigns reporter from Israel over “scum” tweet


Those who work as newsgatherers in the news media and those who’ve worked in the news media know the problem: if you have a bad experience with someone you’re covering and your reaction looks too personal there’s a chance you’ll be pulled from that assignment if a)there is a major furor over you showing your ire (covert anger is safer than overt anger) b)your news organization fears that your future reporting will be viewed as tainted and biased. And so it goes with CNN’s Diana Magnay — who’s gone from her Middle East reporting assignment after sending out an angry Tweet using a word that wasn’t a cuss word but could be used by her critics against her: [icopyright one button toolbar]

CNN has removed international correspondent Diana Magnay from Israel after she referred to a group of Israelis as “scum.”

Magnay, who was covering the Israeli missile attack on Gaza, tweeted Thursday, “Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to ‘destroy our car if I say a word wrong’. Scum.”

In a statement, a CNN spokesperson said Magnay had been “threatened and harassed” but “deeply regrets the language used.”

“Scum” — a word that has most likely crossed the minds of many reporters who’ve covered politicians at all levels of government in many countries, but a word they refrain from using — may have been a word warranted by the threats against her, but as a reporter it would have forever been used by some to suggest that any time she did a report critical of the Israeli government it was due to her holding a grudge.

“After being threatened and harassed before and during a liveshot, Diana reacted angrily on Twitter,” the spokesperson said. “She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew. She certainly meant no offense to anyone beyond that group, and she and CNN apologize for any offense that may have been taken.”

REALITY ONE: She was aiming the language at the people who threatened her.
REALITY TWO: Some would most assuredly have suggested she was aiming it at all of Israel and hated Israel and was biased.
REALITY THREE: CNN’s reaction is not inappropriate.

Her actual bias or lack of bias is separate issue. But the bottom line is that if a reporter used that word in a Tweet to refer to a police department he or she was covering, many newspapers would have had the reporter change beats as well because of the way the reporter and that reporter’s future reporting could be perceived.

This clearly doesn’t apply to talk show hosts or cable ideological show commentators. But reporters are still held to a higher standard.

A Cross Section of Tweets: