On a Monday MSNBC show, Rula Jebreal was identified as an “MSNBC contributor,” a term of some standing in cable news. During that show, “Ronan Farrow Daily,” she ripped MSNBC itself for what she said was pro-Israel bias in covering the ongoing hostilities with Hamas. “We are disgustingly biased on this issue,” charged Jebreal.
She later tweeted that other TV appearances were canceled, though she managed to reprise her allegations of MSNBC bias on a Tuesday night segment with anchor Chris Hayes. This time, she was designated a “Palestinian Journalist” in an on-screen graphic.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Erik Wemple Blog, Jebreal sounded super-angry about the situation. “I wasn’t invited as a ‘Palestinian’ voice and if they had told me I was going to be a ‘Palestinian’ voice, I would have said, ‘Invite someone else,'” says Jebreal, who was unaware of how the chyron had framed her. “I am a journalist and I have to be an objective journalist.”
As explained in this post, MSNBC is saying that it erred in labeling Jebreal an MSNBC “contributor” on the Monday program — that was an outdated title for Jebreal because her contributor contract ended last month, according to the network. Whatever, counters Jebreal: Even when she was off-contract, the network had previously designated her as a contributor, not as a “Palestinian Journalist.”
Jebreal confirms MSNBC’s statement that she had sought other opportunities upon the expiration of her contributor contract. “They offered me something and I wanted to check other things,” she says.
In these recent MSNBC appearances, Jebreal has come equipped with numbers — and they’ve drawn some Internet fact-checking exercises. For instance, she told Hayes that on CNN’s airwaves, “between June 30 and July 10, you had 17 Israeli public officials vs. one” Palestinian official. PunditFact, the service that examines the assertions of cable and network types, rated that claim “Half True,” arriving at a count of 17 Israeli officials to five Palestinian officials. Watchdog of mainstream media NewsBusters, meanwhile, hammered her claim that U.S. public opinion is 99 percent pro-Israeli.
Jebreal is Italian-Palestinian; she has an Israeli passport and a Jewish husband; she’s a journalist and author, too. So there’s no factual problem with labeling her on air as a “Palestinian Journalist.” Doing so right after she raised claims that the network carries a pro-Israeli bias, however, comes off as unprofessional at best, prejudicial at worst.
The Erik Wemple Blog has asked MSNBC if it had ever used “Palestinian Journalist” to describe Jebreal prior to her appearance on “All In.”
June 17, on MSNBC’s “Reid Report”: