MEDIA ACTION ALERT | Media Committee
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of the conflict.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Turner asked "Aren't the Israelis and the Palestinians both terrorizing each other?" Reports from Turner's office indicate that, because of his comments, he has received an abundance of complaint calls.
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The original Guardian article is posted below for your reference.
CNN Chief accuses Israel of Terror
Oliver Burkeman in New York and Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
The Guardian, Tuesday June 18, 2002
Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, accuses Israel today of engaging in "terrorism" against the Palestinians, in comments that threaten to lead to a further decline in the news network's already poor relations with the
"Aren't the Israelis and the Palestinians both terrorising each other?" says Turner, who is vice-chairman of AOL Time Warner, which owns CNN, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian. "The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers, that's all they have. The Israelis ... they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism."
His remarks were last night condemned by Ariel Sharon's government, which called them "stupid". Andrea Levin, director of the American pro-Israeli media watchdog Camera, said the comments were a "reprehensible" attempt to "blur the line between perpetrator and victim".
In his first British interview since the September 11 attacks, Mr Turnerwho broke philanthropic records in 1997 when he donated $1bn to the UNargues that poverty and desperation are the root cause of Palestinian
But Daniel Seaman, a spokesman for the Israeli government, said: "My only advice to Ted Turner is if people assume you are stupid, it is just best to keep your mouth shut rather than open your mouth and confirm everyone in
Mr Turner also admits that he was wrong to
call the September 11 hijackers "brave" in a speech in Rhode
Island that sparked outrage. "I made an unfortunate choice of words,"
he says, adding that his ownership of the Atlanta Braves baseball team
meant the word was never far from his mind.
"Look, I'm a very good thinker, but I
sometimes grab the wrong word ... I mean, I don't type my speeches,
then sit up there and read them off the teleprompter, you know. I wing
Mr Turner is moved to tears at one point in
the interview by the "depressing" combination of conflicts
like that in the Middle East and the state of the environment, which
he says demands massive global attention"or, you know ...
A senior minister in Yasser Arafat's cabinet
told the Guardian he welcomed Mr Turner's comments. Many Palestinians
complain just as bitterly of a pro-Israeli bias in CNN's coverage -
mocking it as the "Zionist News Network"as Israel complains
of a pro-Palestinian one.
"I feel it reflects a more consistent
approach," said Ghassan Khatib, Mr Arafat's newly appointed labour
minister and until recently director of the Jerusalem Media and Communications
Centre, a Palestinian media monitoring unit.
"One of the problems in trying to
reduce the violence has been the focus of so much international attention
on Israeli rather than Palestinian civilian deaths, although four times
as many Palestinians have been killed." CNN has been a punchbag
for both sides. A widespread perception of bias among some Israelis
and US supporters of Israel has prompted several boycotts by pressure
groups, urging viewers to switch to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel.
But three months ago, in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour,
Mr Arafat slammed down the phone after accusing her of anti-Palestinian
bias. "You are covering with these questions the terrorist activities
of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli crimes," he said. "Be
quiet. Be fair. Thank you, bye-bye."