NBC News's New President Has History of Israel-Bashing
Deborah Turness, the British journalist who has been editor of Independent Television's ITV News since 2004 and was named the president of NBC News on May 20, 2013, has a history of involvement with anti-Israel media bias.
Most alarmingly, Turness and two ITV colleagues won an Amnesty International UK Media Award in 2008 for their controversial, one-sided news report "Too Young to Die - Children of the Frontline" about Palestinian Arab children.
As editor at ITV News, Turness held the most senior news position at the network. Making a shocking statement of moral equivalence, Turness stated in 2006, "We have to ask ourselves, are we being the tool of terrorists or the tool of the government?" Turness is British born and has never worked in the U.S.
"Too Young to Die" was over four and a half minutes. The Israel spokesperson, Miri Eisin, was given approximately 14 seconds on camera. There was no attempt in the piece to show any evenhandedness.
Turness and ITV were praised for the "Too Young to Die" broadcast by the extremist Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-Palestine) organization. "DCI-PS's board of directors," reports NGO Monitor, includes Shawan Jabarin, who has been denied exit visas by Israel and Jordan on account of his alleged ties to the PFLP terror group.
ITV has a history of strong support for Palestinian organizations, as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has noted.
Eric Rozenman, Washington director, CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) made the following remarks when asked about NBC's hiring of Turness:
If each person's entitled to a honeymoon period when taking on a new job, then so too for Deborah Turness as head of NBC's news division. But Turness comes to NBC after leading the news department at Britain's ITV since 2004. During her tenure ITV aired a number of one-sided, misleading broadcasts that amounted to anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian propaganda. CAMERA researchers will keep that in mind as we monitor and evaluate the accuracy and objectivity of NBC's Arab-Israeli news coverage under Turness.
In 2006, ITV aired false reports that Israeli forces bombed two Lebanese ambulances, stated Israel National News.
In 2009, ITV aired a controversial Gaza Aid appeal. While the BBC rejected the appeal, stating, "The BBC refused to broadcast the humanitarian appeal on the grounds that it did not want to risk public confidence in its impartiality," ITV seems to have had no such concerns.
ITV's anti-Israel stance is longstanding. ITV drew sharp criticism in the U.K. in 2002 after it aired the documentary "Palestine is Still the Issue," which was labeled in the UK press as being inaccurate and biased. "Palestine is Still the Issue" was made by notorious Israel-basher John Pilger.
In March 2004, CAMERA reported on ITV and Pilger. CAMERA labeled the film "more of the same bitter diatribe" and described it as containing "historical distortions, unsubstantiated anecdotes, misquotes, and old, discredited anti-Israel canards that flourish on Internet hate sites."
Turness chose to join ITV after the Pilger controversy.
ITV's pro-Palestinian biases extend beyond its news division to its entrainment programming as well. In 2006, ITV's reality show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! featured notorious anti-Israel activist Lauren Booth. Booth donated her fee from ITV to Interpal (Palestinian Relief and Development Fund).
Cliff Kincaid, the director of the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism, in reaction to AFSI's research, said:
It is difficult to believe reports that British journalist Deborah Turness, the newly named president of NBC News, was selected after a months' long search, unless the intention all along was to find a controversial character who would work to make the NBC News network into more of a clone of its sister network, the little-watched MSNBC. She could just as well have been picked to run Al Jazeera America. A tabloid TV specialist, her British Independent Television News (ITV) network has been a platform for John Pilger, a fixture at Marxist conferences in his native Australia who specializes in programs attacking the U.S. and Israel. It is quite telling that Turness and Pilger have both been guests on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" program, an outlet in the U.S. for Code Pink and other Marxist misfits who think Barack Obama is too much of a moderate. Turness promises more left-wing drivel from NBC News, with the inevitable result that more viewers will look elsewhere for news and information. In the process, however, much damage to professional journalism can and will be done.
Moshe Phillips is the president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI). The chapter's blog can be found at http://phillyafsi.blogtownhall.com, and Moshe tweets at http://twitter.com/MoshePhillips.