CNN Admits All Gaza Coverage Is Run Through Bureau Monitored By Israeli Military Censor

CNN has long been criticized by media analysts and journalists for its deference to the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) regarding its coverage of the occupied Palestinian territories.

The cable network has now admitted ago that it follows a protocol that allows Israeli censors influence over its stories.

A spokesperson for the network told The Intercept hat its news coverage about Israel and Palestine is run through and reviewed by the CNN Jerusalem bureau. The bureau is subject to the IDF’s censor.

Activist Post reports: The censor restricts foreign news outlets from reporting on certain subjects of its choosing and outright censors articles or news segments if they don’t meet its guidelines.

Other news organizations often avoid the censor by reporting certain stories about the region through their news desks outside of Israel, The Intercept reported.

“The policy of running stories about Israel or the Palestinians past the Jerusalem bureau has been in place for years,” the spokesperson told the outlet. “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.”

The spokesperson added that CNN does not share news copy with the censor and called the network’s interactions with the IDF “minimal.” But James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, said the IDF’s approach to censoring media outlets is “Israel’s way of intimidating and controlling news.”

A CNN staffer who spoke to The Intercept on condition of anonymity confirmed that the network’s longtime relationship with the censor has ensured CNN’s coverage of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and attacks in the West Bank since October 7 favors Israel’s narratives.

“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,” the staffer said.

Jerusalem bureau chief Richard Greene announced it had expanded its review team to include editors outside of Israel, calling the new policy “Jerusalem SecondEyes.” The expanded review process was ostensibly put in place to bring “more expert eyes” to CNN’s reporting particularly when the Jerusalem news desk is not staffed.

In practice, the staff member told The Intercept, “‘War-crime’ and ‘genocide’ are taboo words. 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.”

Meanwhile, reporters are under intensifying pressure to question anything they learn from Palestinian sources, including casualty statistics from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health is run by Hamas, which controls Gaza’s government. The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said in October, as U.S. President Joe Biden was publicly questioning the accuracy of the ministry’s reporting on deaths and injuries, that its casualty statistics have “proven consistently credible in the past.”

Despite this, CNN’s senior director of news standards and practices, David Lindsey, told journalists in a November 2 memo that “Hamas representatives are engaging in inflammatory rhetoric and propaganda… We should be careful not to give it a platform.”

Another email sent in October suggested that the network aimed to present the Ministry of Health’s casualty figures as questionable, with the News Standards and Practices division telling staffers, “Hamas controls the government in Gaza and we should describe the Ministry of Health as ‘Hamas-controlled’ whenever we are referring to casualty statistics or other claims related to the present conflict.”

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