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An Opportunity to Urge Balanced Coverage at CNN

June 24th, 2002

Let CNN know we support balanced coverage 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. Email or phone CNN to support Turner's assessment, encourage more blanaced coverage and to present CNN with ideas and resources for alternative perspectives on the conflict. CNN's information desk compiles viewers' responses and reports them to producers and managers daily. The information desk can be contacted several ways: 1) EMAIL public.information@turner.com 2) PHONE 404 827-1700 3) FAX 404-827-1575 When contacting CNN, be polite. Tell them that you are concerned about getting full and even-handed information on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tell CNN you want more coverage about how international law applies to the conflict and how US policies—especially military aid to Israel—actually keep the conflict going. Point out that a just solution means an end to the occupation and human rights for all. Offer to provide CNN with names of articulate spokespeople and alternative sources of information. These might include members of your own organization or members of the steering committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, websites and/or other useful resources. Please send copies of your emails to the Campaign at us_campaign@endtheoccupation.org. 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 Jewish state. "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 Turner—who broke philanthropic records in 1997 when he donated $1bn to the UN—argues that poverty and desperation are the root cause of Palestinian suicide bombings. 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 that view." 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 it." 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 ... it's goodbye". 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."