The New York Times reports today about a CNN senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs being fired for a Tweet about a Hezbollah leader whom she said she respected. The editor, Octavia Nasr, said: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah … One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” She later explained that she respected Fadlallah for his relatively progressive stands on women’s rights under Islam — not for his support of violence against Israel.
Many of the comments on the Media Decoder blog post are supportive of CNN’s decision to fire Nasr. Then there’s this one:
Is ANYONE allowed to misspeak anymore? In an era when reporters and editors are being required to tweet and blog and everything else without a net, folks are going to make mistakes. She was expressing herself in 140 characters or less, and she definitely messed up, but her explanation seems reasonable. One stray tweet and she loses her job?
This very week, I read heaps of posthumous praise for the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a former supporter of the KKK. I today’s world, he never would have had the chance to turn things around.
It got me thinking. News organizations want journalists to raise their profiles via social media. But there is relatively little guidance about how to do so in an interesting and provocative way (or else why bother?) without getting into trouble for an opinion or random observation.
You’re the boss. Would you have fired Nasr for her tweet?