CNN’s Bias Toward Israel Starts at the Top – Philip Weiss 2/9/24


A recent Guardian article documenting CNN’s bias toward Israel was impressive but lacked one crucial detail: Why CNN has such bias. You don’t have to look farther than CEO David Zaslav to understand the answer is Zionism.

This week, the Guardian published a long article documenting CNN’s bias toward Israel, notably internal rules for preparing reports that privilege the Israeli perspective (that its unending massacres and ethnic cleansing are justified by Hamas’s massacre of October 7).

The investigation was impressive but lacking: The Guardian had no idea Why CNN has such bias.

There is one reason for the bias in plain sight: religious ideology. David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN’s parent company, is a Zionist. He believes in the need for a Jewish state as a historical imperative and, on that basis, has justified Zionist massacres of Palestinian civilians.

Such attachment would be front and center if the subject were abortion or evangelical voters in the Republican Party. The Guardian leaves out the angle because it is afraid that bringing up the Israel lobby and the Jewish presence in the establishment will foster antisemitism. But I would argue that religious ideology is the most important factor at work.

Let’s look at statements from Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Brothers/Discovery.

In the days after October 7, even as Israel was bombing Gaza, Zaslav issued a statement of support for Israel, saying it had experienced “one of the deadliest [days] in Jewish history since the Holocaust.” Zaslav was reported to be considering taking part in a $50 million publicity campaign to “define Hamas to the American people as a terrorist organization.”

Zaslav was fully on one side in this conflict. He characterized Hamas’s actions as “unthinkable evil,” Variety reported:

“The terrorist attacks by Hamas on innocent men, women, children and babies have been unimaginable, abhorrent and inexcusable. Many have lost their lives and others have been taken hostage and remain unaccounted for,” Zaslav said in the memo, which was sent to WBD staff on Tuesday. “Our hearts break for all those whose lives have been irrevocably and senselessly impacted by these vile acts of terror. Our company’s founders believed it was their duty to shed light on injustice in the world.”

Zaslav also applauded the journalists at CNN and TVN for their coverage. “In defining moments like these, where unthinkable evil is clearly on display, we are especially grateful for [their] dedication and courage…”

The 64-year-old media boss is deeply committed to Israel as the answer to Jewish persecution in Europe. As he told the Israeli broadcaster i24 News in 2019, he is a Jewish kid whose grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Eastern Europe with nothing. One grandmother barely escaped the Holocaust in Warsaw.

Israel’s existence is essential for all Jews, Zaslav said, and he watches the movie Exodus1 every year to remind himself of the strength of pre-1948 Zionist armed forces: the Haganah, the military wing of the Jewish Agency that became the IDF, and the Irgun, a terrorist group that the Haganah secretly worked with.

Here is Zaslav’s rhapsody to Zionist militants, and to Jewish cultural power:

I love Israel… I remember one Christmas with my whole family walking into the King David [Hotel in Jerusalem] and it felt like I was walking into the Regency on Park Avenue. The first person I saw was [media mogul] Barry Diller in the lobby checking in. I ran into four or five friends of mine I didn’t know were in Israel.

I remember sitting on the veranda and thinking of that scene in Exodus. I still watch once a year during the period of the high holidays, and I remember thinking about what happened to the King David and thinking about how lucky we are to have Israel and what it took and the strength of the Haganah and the Irgun and the heart of the Israeli people, to fight for a free democracy and what that means, and what that means to all of us as Jews, that Israel continue to prosper for my children and for my grandchildren.

Zaslav is praising a right-wing terrorist force, the Irgun, for blowing up a wing of the King David Hotel in 1946. The hotel was a headquarters for British mandate authorities. The bombing killed 91 people, including many civilians, and helped compel the British to get out of Palestine.

As for the fight for “democracy,” in 1948, the Irgun led terrorist operations against Palestinians. Those include the ethnic cleansing of Jaffa, in which Palestinians, including the elite of that society, were forced to flee, and the massacre in the village of Deir Yassin, which led to the capture of Jerusalem.

Zionists salute these actions because they enabled the creation of Israel in May 1948.

As the head of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, has said of his father, who was a member of the Irgun, “My father… was a terrorist.”

Zaslav conceded that Israel has problems– just like the U.S.

“[It’s] a shining light of democracy. It’s highly imperfect. And there’s a lot you can say about Israel and there’s a lot you can say about our democracy here in the U.S., but they’re continuing to strive toward the best democracy and it’s a great country.”

Zaslav also praised Israel as a startup economy. “There’s just a tremendous amount of energy and technology… . It’s a place to go to see where things are going and what’s happening. Its also a very good traditional market in terms of advertising and television consumption.”

Zaslav’s attitude is very similar to that of his contemporary Tom Nides (age 62), Biden’s ambassador to Israel until last year. Nides is married to Virginia Moseley, who is the executive editor at CNN with “iron command” over the newsroom.

Her husband is an ideological Zionist. Nides was a cheerleader for Israel as ambassador and left the State Department last summer to work at Wells Fargo — and then quit that job after a month when Israel was attacked so as to speak up for Israel in the U.S., including working with the Jewish Federations.

In fact, Nides appeared on CNN after the Hamas attacks to justify Israeli actions.

Nides’s political career was aided by his family’s wealth and influence. His father was a financier and a leader of the Duluth Jewish community, heading the Jewish Federation there– so no wonder Walter Mondale hired Nides as a young man.

Nides and Zaslav share an ideology, of the need for a Jewish state on lands that others lived on first. Nides has said that he can’t convince his own children of these ideas. It’s time the American people got to debate them openly. Too bad The Guardian left that part out.