CNN has fired a senior editor for Middle East news after she published a Twitter message that said she respected a Lebanese Shi’ite cleric branded a terrorist by the United States, U.S. and British media said on Thursday. The Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of Shi’ite Islam’s highest religious authorities and an early mentor of the militant group Hezbollah, died in Beirut on Sunday. (Photo: Supporters of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah hold posters after his death in Beirut, July 4, 2010/Khalil Hassan)
Octavia Nasr, a 20-year CNN veteran based in Atlanta, wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” Some supporters of Israel saw the Twitter posting almost immediately and took issue with it, the New York Times said.
The Times cited Parisa Khosravi, the senior vice president for CNN International Newsgathering, as saying in an internal memorandum that she “had a conversation” with Nasr and that “we have decided that she will be leaving the company.”
Nasr tried to explain the tweet in a CNN blog post, saying: “Reaction to my tweet was immediate, overwhelming and a provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East. It was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I’m sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all.”
What do you think? Was it right for CNN to fire Nasr over a tweet?