Preemptive stenography at CNN

Palestinians amidst rubble in Khan Younis

Palestinians in Khan Younis stand on top of rubble from what CNN anchor Erin Burnett terms “precision” strikes.

Yasser Qudih Chine Nouvelle/SIPA

CNN doesn’t just practice stenography.

It has now moved to preemptive stenography.

Erin Burnett, a CNN anchor, recently interviewed Jonathan Conricus, a lieutenant colonel and spokesperson for Israel’s apartheid army.

Rather than challenge Conricus during the 23 October interview about the thousands of Palestinian civilians, including children, killed to that point in Gaza and how Israel’s strikes could possibly be termed precise, she went ahead and made the point for him.

This is cheerleading and not holding an apartheid army to account for the relentless slaughter of civilians that has horrified large parts of the world.

Much of the story remains untold because CNN failed to get journalists on the ground in Gaza. Nor do they routinely report at CNN, at least as broadcast in the US, that Israeli and Egyptian officials are not letting them in.

There’s clearly much in Gaza that Israel does not want covered.

The transcript provided by CNN of the Burnett-Conricus “interview” is not easy to follow.

CNN quotes Burnett as saying to Conricus: “And you point out that you have been striking very specifically, if you add up your number of strikes even versus [the] Palestinian-reported number of civilians, you know the strikes are persistent. They are precision.”

The full transcript should be viewed above, but much of it is poorly transcribed by CNN. The point is that Burnett did the heavy lifting for Conricus.

She simply accepts the strikes are precision, even as thousands of Palestinians lie dead and hundreds more are thought to be beneath the rubble.

Could Israel’s military kill more Palestinians? Certainly. Are these precision strikes? No, only if you believe Palestinian children mean nothing.

Close to one in 350 children in Gaza has been killed in just 22 days. The equivalent number of American children killed in that short time period would be slightly over 200,000. By the time you read this, the figures will surely be worse.

But why is Burnett making points for Conricus at all? She is a partisan and has no business reporting on the carnage very partially delivered to Americans’ living rooms.

She also made the point here:

Who speaks for Palestinians on CNN?

Over the past week, CNN has brought forward Yoseph Haddad and Mohammad Kabiya to represent Palestinian citizens of Israel.

There are few who are less qualified to represent Palestinian citizens of Israel. Both Haddad and Kabiya are actually pro-Israel advocates.

The interviews ignored Israel’s discriminatory laws, including the nation-state law of 2018, in order to promote a false perception of comity between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Other Palestinian voices would readily make significantly different points.

Asked by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer how the “Israeli-Arab community is reacting to this conflict with Hamas,” Haddad responded that “We don’t want to live under a terrorist organization. We want to live in a democracy and that’s what the state of Israel is. Of course, unfortunately, we have a tiny minority within our society that support Hamas, and we are lucky that the Israeli police which people need to understand, the Israeli police have Arabs and Jewish officers in it, and they are dealing with the extremists in the best way that we can do in order to maintain them silent.”

What is most notable, however, is what the social media activist didn’t discuss with Blitzer. There wasn’t a word of concern expressed about the violence Palestinian civilians in Gaza face from Israel’s military.

This is, in fact, of tremendous concern to Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Haddad is now dismissing the slaughter of Palestinian children, publicly highlighting his celebratory mood at the death and destruction Israel’s flag-waving apartheid army is carrying out in Gaza.
Haddad also has lied about the Israeli attack on a Christian church and associated grounds in Gaza, claiming there were just injuries when, in fact, Haaretz reports Muslims and Christians alike were killed at the site.
On the same day, Blitzer also interviewed Kabiya, introduced as an “Arab-Israeli Muslim who served in a special unit of the Israeli Air Force.”

Kabiya claimed that “Israel is doing everything to not target the Palestinian and innocent people but the big problem is that Hamas is using these people, the civilian people for their agenda. They’re hiding and the Hamas leadership is hiding behind the hospitals and the mosques and the UNRWA [UN agency for Palestine refugees] sites using the people there as a human shield.”

At that point, well over 1,000 children had already been killed by this army that claims to be trying not to “target the Palestinian and innocent people.”

Kabiya then asserted that the response of most Palestinian citizens of Israel to what Blitzer referred to as “the conflict between Israel and Hamas” is “to support Israel.” Again, as with Haddad, there is surely tremendous concern and support for Palestinians in Gaza who are facing one of the heaviest bombardments anywhere of the 21st century.

Diana Buttu, a lawyer and Palestinian citizen of Israel, told The Electronic Intifada that “No individual who has been in the Israeli army and has committed crimes against Palestinians can be said to speak on behalf of Palestinians. They speak on behalf of the murderous, genocidal state of Israel.”

These are just two examples. They do not get at the horror of watching the explosions rock Gaza on Friday night as CNN journalists looked on unmoved, failing to interview Palestinians in lieu of guests from blacked-out Gaza.

CNN helped create the Washington political atmosphere of rage at Palestinians, failing to challenge American and Israeli officials, not reporting on Israeli apartheid, scarcely touching Palestinian dispossession, and ignoring calls for war crimes from American politicians.

They will have much to answer for in the years ahead as younger journalists assume positions of responsibility. But a profound apology issued in 25 years does Palestinians no good today.

Correction, 30 October

The equivalent number of American children killed has been corrected to slightly over 200,000.


Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune,, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.