Two reporters for major US TV channels were summarily "removed" last week from covering Israel’s attack on Gaza, moments before Israel launched a ground invasion.
NBC pulled out Ayman Mohyeldin, who has been widely praised for the even-handedness of his reporting from Gaza, just as he landed a harrowing scoop. He had kicked a football with four boys who were killed moments later by an Israeli missile.
Mohyeldin managed a few tweets before being removed, allegedly on "security" grounds. But why then did NBC immediately send in a replacement? After a public outcry, Mohyeldin was reinstated, but no proper explanation of the decision has been provided.
Shortly afterwards, CNN "reassigned" its reporter in Israel, Diana Magnay, after a tweet in which she labelled as "scum" an Israeli mob that threatened her with violence as she filmed them celebrating missile explosions in Gaza. The tweet was deleted within minutes, followed by her rapid departure.
The impression left by these incidents and the generally deferential tone towards Israel in US coverage is that, faced with huge pressure from the Israel lobby, media executives are frantically policing their correspondents’ output, including on social media.
That view was confirmed to Max Blumenthal by an NBC producer after the channel axed Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian contributor, following her on-air complaints about the massive over-representation of Israeli officials in US coverage. The producer said there was a "witch-hunt" being conducted by NBC executives, led by the media corporation’s president, Phil Griffin.