Accuracy in Media

Deborah Turness, the former editor of British ITV News, has been hired as NBC News’ new president. However, The New York Times reports that “Ms. Turness’s job will be smaller than her predecessor’s because she will not have oversight of MSNBC.”

“This change implies that Comcast is putting distance between the traditionally nonpartisan NBC News and the more opinionated, controversial MSNBC,” reports Brian Stelter for the Times.

Nonpartisan? Accuracy in Media wishes this were true. But unfortunately, Turness’s hiring is in fact a partisan move and is likely to further tilt NBC News’ Middle East reporting against Israel. “[S]he was familiar to top brass at NBC News because it has a partnership with ITV,” reports Joe Flint for the Los Angeles Times: “The two share reporters and resources in Africa and the Middle East.” This is important because ITV news is notoriously pro-Palestinian, and anti-Israel. In addition, according to Flint, Turness has become “something of a celebrity” in London media circles, and in 2011, she “was the only journalist who attended the 2011 state banquet held for President Obama at Buckingham Palace.”

This recent piece for American Thinker by Moshe Phillips, president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), highlights the “Israel-bashing” engaged in by ITV News and Turness herself. “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,” writes Phillips of Turness. “‘Too Young to Die’ was over four and a half minutes. The Israel spokesperson, Miri Eisin, was given approximately 14 seconds on camera.”

Phillips makes the point that there was no “attempt in the piece to show any evenhandedness.”

Is this the type of even-handed reporting that can be expected from NBC News under Turness’ leadership?

‘During her tenure ITV aired a number of one-sided, misleading broadcasts that amounted to anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian propaganda,’ Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) director Eric Rozenman told Phillips. ‘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.’

You won’t hear this from the mainstream media. What’s most notable about Turness is that she is “the first woman to run a network news division in the United States,” according to The New York Times.

Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid offered his perspective. “She could just as well have been picked to run Al Jazeera America,” said Kincaid. He told Phillips:

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.

One thing working against Ms. Turness is that, unlike the presidents of ABC News and CBS News, she does not have a sibling who works for the Obama White House in matters of national security. And working for her is the fact that she doesn’t have to oversee, or kowtow to MSNBC and all of the madness that emanates from that primetime lineup on a daily basis. The justifiable concerns about her anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian biases have been noted, and we will be watching.

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