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We exposed a CNN journalist’s antisemitic tweets. His apology was rife with deflection

Sensitive issues like Israel should be covered only by journalists who have not spread antisemitism

It’s a catchy opinion piece: “I was fired from CNN for antisemitic tweets. How do I make amends?” I would click on it, as I’m sure many of you would.

Last week, journalist Idris Muktar wrote an opinion piece in the Forward lamenting that he was fired from his dream job as a news desk producer for CNN due to tweets revealed by HonestReporting in which he declared himself part of #TeamHitler and praised Hamas.

He expressed remorse for the tweets, which he wrote before joining CNN, and attempted to put them in the context of his upbringing. He thankfully renounced antisemitism and admirably said he wants to “fully perform teshuvah” and “make sure he is never misguided again.”

But in the same article, he also falsely accused HonestReporting of calling for the rescinding of a fellowship and an award that he had won. He also abhorrently suggested that we may have investigated his social media accounts merely because he has a “visibly Muslim name.” (Editor’s note: The material about HonestReporting calling for the rescinding of a fellowship and award have been removed from the original column and a correction appended).

HonestReporting has been monitoring mainstream media coverage of Israel for more than 20 years. We look into anyone who writes for mainstream media with a Jerusalem dateline, regardless of their race, religion or national identity.

In an interview with Kenya Television Network this past week, he went further, saying he was treated differently due to the color of his skin:

“There has been a lot of other white reporters who have done, tweeted and said worse things than what I did, and they got away with it,” he said.

Regarding his former employer, CNN, he did not mince words:

“CNN, New York Times, I mean all of these international media organizations, it’s basically like — if I can say, I’m not sure how much of this I can say — but it’s also like who controls these places, or, it’s about corporate interests at the end of the day.”

The implication that Jews control the media is blatant antisemitism.

Considering a recent ADL study found that 85% of Americans believe at least one antisemitic stereotype, and 20% believe in six or more, it is even more important that journalists and their publishers are sensitive to widespread tropes.

Muktar’s interview with Kenyan media shows that he lacks that sensitivity that is especially crucial for reporting about Israel.

The apology in the Forward lamented that his own personal growth had not been taken into account, yet his interview with Kenyan media leads one to wonder whether he is truly repentant.

We at HonestReporting had started the process of reaching out to Idris Muktar through the Jewish community where he lives in Minnesota. But now, we question whether he was just using the Forward to get his job back.

To keep Diaspora Jewry and the Jewish state safe, it is important that sensitive issues like Israel are covered by journalists who have not espoused antisemitic views or expressed support for terror groups that target innocent civilians of all faiths.

HonestReporting did not damage Idris’ reputation. He damaged his own reputation and is now dealing with the consequences of his own words that he posted publicly, as has happened to many other journalists and public figures.

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