When NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was recently called home from Gaza where he had been reporting on the conflict, our good friend Glenn Greenwald immediately took to The Intercept to post one of his over-heated propaganda pieces, very strongly insinuating that Mohyeldin was pulled out because his reporting was too pro-Palestinian: NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter From Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children.
Despite this powerful first-hand reporting - or perhaps because of it - Mohyeldin was nowhere to be seen on last night’s NBC Nightly News broadcast with Brian Williams. Instead, as Media Bistro’s Jordan Chariton noted, NBC curiously had Richard Engel - who was in Tel Aviv, and had just arrived there an hour or so earlier - “report” on the attack. Charlton wrote that “the decision to have Engel report the story for ‘Nightly’ instead of Mohyeldin angered some NBC News staffers.”
Indeed, numerous NBC employees, including some of the network’s highest-profile stars, were at first confused and then indignant over the use of Engel rather than Mohyeldin to report the story. But what they did not know, and what has not been reported until now, is that Mohyeldin was removed completely from reporting on Gaza by a top NBC executive, David Verdi, who ordered Mohyeldin to leave Gaza immediately.
Over the last two weeks, Mohyeldin’s reporting has been far more balanced and even-handed than the standard pro-Israel coverage that dominates establishment American press coverage; his reports have provided context to the conflict that is missing from most American reports and he avoids adopting Israeli government talking points as truth. As a result, neocon and “pro-Israel” websites have repeatedly attacked him as a “Hamas spokesman” and spouting “pro-Hamas rants.”
It doesn’t take an expert at reading between the lines to see what Greenwald is getting at with these incendiary accusations, and sure enough his followers immediately launched a Twitter campaign to pressure NBC into returning Mohyeldin to Gaza, all of them completely convinced that he’d been pulled out because of pro-Israel bias at NBC.
At the time, I posted these tweets about the situation:
This Friday, NBC reversed their decision, and announced that Mohyeldin would be returning to Gaza — leading Greenwald to take credit and tweet triumphantly:
But now, thanks to Brian Stelter (who actually committed some journalism to get at the truth of the story), we learn that Mohyeldin’s withdrawal from Gaza had nothing to do with his empathy for Palestinians, but everything to do with internal NBC politics around the most important thing to a cable news network: ratings.
What Really Happened With NBC and Ayman Mohyeldin.
Did this decision demonstrate unfairness on the part of NBC, or more mundane internal politicking? Engel is one of NBC’s most recognizable correspondents, after all, and “Nightly News” is locked in a battle with ABC’s “World News” for No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings.
“The producers are so paranoid about the ratings, they’ll do anything to stick with the faces viewers know and trust — so that would be Richard over Ayman,” said one of the employees. “Plus, there is no tolerance if a story is fed in and doesn’t live up to expectations.”
At this point, one has to wonder how many times Glenn Greenwald will cry “WOLF!” and still be considered a reputable journalist, instead of what he really is: a propagandist who regularly twists and distorts facts to suit his agenda.