CNN’s Erin Burnett Still Failing At Fairness In Gaza Coverage

As we all know by now, a few days ago, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer ripped apart Erin Burnett in his appearance on CNN, calling into question CNN’s reporting of a strike on a UNRWA school in Gaza. Dermer pointed a finger at CNN for failing to connect the Gaza casualties to Hamas’s human shield tactics.

ron demer

Burnett was, apparently, sufficiently embarrassed that she felt the need to respond on air the next day. Burnett’s argument that Dermer’s claims were unjustified because CNN had, in fact, reported on Hamas’s storing of rockets in schools, falls short.

Dermer’s criticism of CNN went far beyond simply reporting that rockets were found in UNRWA schools. Dermer questioned why CNN had not read on air the statement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in which even he condemned Hamas’s practice of using UNRWA schools as weapons depots, and stated that doing so turns the schools into military targets and endangers the lives of the students in the schools. Dermer also asked why CNN failed to connect the civilian casualties to that issue. Burnett not only failed to address these points at all, she even omitted that segment of Dermer’s interview from the clip she showed in her response.

Burnett did respond to Dermer’s accusation that CNN had not reported at all that rockets were stored in UNRWA schools. Burnett and her staff, apparently, reviewed forty-eight hours’ worth of CNN coverage. Forty-eight hours during which CNN has focused intensely on the Gaza conflict. From that 48 hour period, she was able to come up with exactly three sentences in which CNN stated that rockets had been found in UNRWA schools.  Burnett then cut to her guest, CNN reporter Karl Penhaul, who said that “each side has its own version of the truth,” as though a statement from the UN Secretary General is somehow Israel’s version of the truth.

Perhaps the most telling point in the two pieces, however, is Burnett’s reaction when Dermer first brings up the issue.  At about 49 seconds into the first video, Burnett’s reaction indicates that even she was unaware of the UN’s discovery of rockets in its schools. If Burnett, a supposed journalist, whose job it is to at least be aware of what is being reported on her own network, by her own colleagues, was unaware that the UN had found rockets stored in two different UNRWA schools that week, how could she possibly expect that the information was conveyed in such a way that casual viewers would absorb it? Clearly, the information was glossed over, and insufficient attention was paid to this story.  Burnett’s own ignorance of the facts belies her assertions that the story was given the coverage that it deserved.

About Mirabelle

A Zionist in exile, Mirabelle has, in past lives, been a lawyer, a skier, and a chef. Outside of Israel, her favorite place in the world is Sun Valley, Idaho.

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  • Hard Little Machine

    EVERY day CNN has a Hamas or PLO spokesman or senior terrorist on air during its prime viewing hours around 7 am and 7 pm. Twice a day, every day. And in no instance have they ever actually been asked a question. They’re handed the mike and allowed to say whatever they like for up to 5 minutes.

    In a just world, CNN executives would be hanged for war crimes like Julius Streicher.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    A couple of years ago, CNN took stock of its falling ratings, vastly lower than Fox News, and brought in Jeff Zucker to run its operations. And what is Zucker’s background? He was a Hollywood producer of entertainment. So that is what CNN thinks of the news business. Except that while people might like to be entertained, the offerings have to appeal to the audience. Something to do with moral clarity and the good guys winning. Since CNN doesn’t get it, its ratings remain in the dumps.

  • Jason

    That follow up interview was absolutely disgusting. Not only did Erin Burnett scour 48 Hours of coverage for those 3 sentences, she brought on Former Ambassador Michael Oren to respond to the allegation of whether CNN coverage was biased, but never gave him the opportunity to respond to the actual on air discussion, instead she asks for his response to a question she asked off line.

    And parading CNN journalists on air to deny they are biased does not win the argument.

    When will someone from the Israeli side question, live on air, why CNN has not reported a single militant injured or killed 21 days of fighting? Why has CNN not mentioned a single weapon laying in the street after major battles in a neighborhood? Why has CNN not tried to look deeper into a bombed building, to see if maybe there is something that could have lead to the Israel strike?

    I remember the 2nd Lebanon War when Anderson Cooper reported that Press was led through a former combat zone, and shown destruction. When Cooper tried to look closer at a building hit, he was pushed back by Hezbollah handlers. He reported that CNN was showing something, but that the whole thing felt staged. Why is ther no serious questioning of anything in Gaza? What they hell happened to journalism?

  • Max Mendelbaum

    How many times has CNN and media start off the segment with the side by side casualties suggesting overtly disproportionality, and then add most casualties in Gaza are civilians without any context, IDF source figures, and comparison to other urban warfare. And the U.N. gets its statistics from Hamas minister and leftist ngos whos vested interested is to assign as many of causalities to civilians casualties.

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