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CNN Staffers Reveal IDF Censors Israel-Palestine News Coverage

The news outlet hired a writer who was a former Israeli soldier in a unit that carried out psyops against its own citizens

CNN Staffers Reveal IDF Censors Israel-Palestine News Coverage

All CNN reporters covering the Israel-Palestine conflict, prior to publication, must submit their work to the organization's Jerusalem bureau to be reviewed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) censors, according to a new report.

CNN is among a number of foreign news organizations operating in Israel, all of which are required to sign a document agreeing to abide by the dictates of Israeli censors, as explained in reporting by The Intercept.

Compliance is essential to maintaining press credentials.

IDF censors determine which subjects are off-limits and which articles may be “unfit” or “unsafe” to publish, the report states.

“The policy of running stories about Israel or the Palestinians past the Jerusalem bureau has been in place for years,” a CNN spokesperson told The Intercept in an email. “It is simply down to the fact that there are many unique and complex local nuances that warrant extra scrutiny to make sure our reporting is as precise and accurate as possible.”

A different CNN staffer speaking on condition of anonymity told the outlet that the review policy has had a demonstrable impact on coverage of the Gaza war.

“Every single Israel-Palestine-related line for reporting must seek approval from the [Jerusalem] bureau — or, when the bureau is not staffed, from a select few handpicked by the bureau and senior management — from which lines are most often edited with a very specific nuance” that favors Israeli narratives, the staffer said.

A CNN staff member told the outlet that words like “war-crime” and “genocide” are taboo. They added, “Israeli bombings in Gaza will be reported as ‘blasts’ attributed to nobody, until the Israeli military weighs in to either accept or deny responsibility. Quotes and information provided by Israeli army and government officials tend to be approved quickly, while those from Palestinians tend to be heavily scrutinized and slowly processed.”

Within two weeks of the deadly October attack, the network hired a former IDF soldier who worked in the public relations unit for the Israeli military in a division that was forced to publicly apologize for conducting psychological operations against its own citizens. The soldier has now written for CNN dozens of articles on IDF operations in Gaza.

The network has also agreed to submit video footage recorded in Gaza to Israeli military censors prior to airing it, which has drawn criticism from individuals who say the policy filters events on the ground.

“When you have a protocol that routes all stories through one checkpoint, you’re interested in control, and the question is who is controlling the story?” Jim Naureckas, editor of the watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, told The Intercept.

Within three weeks of the deadly Oct. 7 attack, CNN notified its news division it was requiring any reference to the Palestinian Ministry of Health as “Hamas-controlled,” a qualifier that would also be required when releasing statistics on casualties and injuries suffered by Gazans.

The email to news staffers stated that the network must constantly “remind our audiences of the immediate cause of this current conflict, namely the Hamas attack and mass murder and kidnap of Israeli civilians.”

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