How CNN chooses its questions

Here’s an excerpt of my latest piece for MondoWeiss on how CNN struck two very different tones in interviewing the leaders of Israel and Hamas.

No Balance: CNN gushes over Peres, grills Meshaal

By Habib Battah


In the news business, interviews are often judged by their ability to generate international headlines. If a reporter asks the right questions he or she can coax their subject into revealing new or previously unknown information to the public. But interviews also reveal a lot about those asking the questions.

This was particularly clear during the latest violence in Gaza, when on the last day of fighting CNN lead anchor Wolf Blitzer sat down with Israeli President Shimon Peres. At the time, over 150 Palestinians were known to be dead and entire blocks flattened after 8 days of shelling and missile strikes on the densely populated strip from Israeli helicopters, jet fighters, land-based artillery and battleships.

“You’re close to 90 years old,” Blitzer told Peres in the quiet calm of his presidential office. “It’s hard to believe you look so great. How do you feel?”

“I feel that I’m too young for the job,” Peres replied coyly.  

But Blitzer persisted. This was not just a one-off nicety. Despite the bloodshed, CNN’s lead anchor wanted to take the charm exchange into the realm of the hypothetical exaggeration, asking if the 89-year-old planned on running for prime minister.
Continue reading at the MondoWeiss site.
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