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ADL leader says he spoke with CNN, MSNBC staff over coverage of Hamas terror attacks: ‘They need to do better’

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt scolded news organizations, saying they need to to do a better job covering the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said he held private conversations with CNN and MSNBC about their coverage of Israel after scolding the networks on the air and urging news organizations around the world to do a better job covering the tragic Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7. 

"I've called out the coverage on CNN while I was being interviewed on CNN. I've called out the coverage on MSNBC while I was being interviewed on MSNBC," Greenblatt told Fox News Digital. 

"All of them need to do better. They need to do better because this isn't just about antisemitism, although it is. The carelessness with which they treat Jewish victims is crazy," he continued. "This isn't just about Israel, although it is. Demonizing and dehumanizing Israelis and Zionists is how you get this kind of barbarism and these atrocities. This is about humanity."


Greenblatt believes the big picture is "about how we see each other as human beings deserving of a degree of dignity" and respect. 

"The failure to do so, is why we have this problem in the first place," Greenblatt said. 

Greenblatt scolded MSNBC on "Morning Joe" the Monday following the Hamas terror attacks, bluntly asking, "Who's writing the scripts?" His remarks came after several MSNBC hosts and pundits referred to Hamas as fighters and militants. "I’m looking right at the camera, they are terrorists," he told MSNBC viewers. 

While on MSNBC, Greenblatt also begged the network and their liberal viewers to "get this story right" because of the magnitude of the conflict.

"Please stop calling this a retaliation. This is a defensive measure against an organization that is committed to one thing, killing Jews. Not a peaceful resolution of a conflict. But murdering Jews," he said. "And if you’re wondering if I’m exaggerating, please, I beg of you, everyone watching, and everyone at this network: Just watch the footage."

He appeared on CNN the day after the brutal terror attack and took exception to CNN International anchor Becky Anderson choice of adjectives when describing Hamas. While the CNN interview was on the phone and didn't generate the headlines that his MSNBC comments received, the ADL leader didn't exactly hold back. 

"Hamas should be seen as the hate group that it is. A hate group that’s been promoting an ideology of hate for years. Dehumanizing Jewish people and dehumanizing the Jewish state. As we’ve seen in America and around the world, when you dehumanize people, you create the conditions, you brainwash the public into thinking acts of dehumanization is permissible," Greenblatt told CNN viewers.

"You need to tell Becky Anderson to stop using words like ‘spectacular’ to describe the terror organization of Hamas. Stop saying they made great gains, spectacular gains," he continued. "We should call these people the barbarians that they are, and we should recognize that the only words to use in the context of this are ‘criminal’ and ‘homicidal.’ Those are the only adjectives that apply." 


Greenblatt said he had private conversations with figures at CNN and MSNBC about coverage of Israel in addition to calling them out on air but declined to get into specific details about the discussions. He believes the networks have taken steps in the right direction, but feels changes were likely caused by an onslaught of criticism in the immediate wake of the Hamas terror attacks.

"I have no delusions of grandeur. I don't think it's just because Jonathan Greenblatt said something that they changed. I'm sure a lot of people were chiming in, but they changed, and it's a good thing they did," he said. 

CNN and MSNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The liberal cable outlets aren’t the only news organizations that Greenblatt found issues with since the Oct. 7 massacre. He said that "Democracy Now!" should be called "Fascism Now," because it promotes a "despicable" regime. 

"Some of these commentators offer nothing other than excuses for these revolting crimes. So I find that fairly incomprehensible," he said. 

While Greenblatt said he saw "Democracy Now!" on PBS, the network distanced itself from the show. "It's not a PBS program," a spokesperson told Fox News Digital. "You might find it on an individual station as public television stations get their programming from many sources."

"Democracy Now!" did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 


Greenblatt also blasted the British Broadcasting Corporation over the network's decision not to initially label Hamas as "terrorists" during coverage of the group’s terror attacks in Israel. The BBC now refers to Hamas a "proscribed terrorist organization," but Greenblatt didn’t mince words when asked about the network’s language. 

"It is dereliction of duty for the BBC to call these agents of death anything less than homicidal fanatics and bloodthirsty murderers," he said. 

"I think it is inexcusable. I think it is, I would call it offensive, but the word isn't strong enough," Greenblatt continued. "It is profane. It is revolting, and it is… almost a moral crime in and of itself."

The ADL recently published an open letter to news organizations urging them to report on Hamas and Israel in a "factually accurate manner."

"The news media has an awesome responsibility at this difficult and tense time in Israel and Gaza, which is, first and foremost, to get the story right and to report the facts accurately so that misinformation does not cause antisemitic or other violence to erupt around the world," the letter said. "This is not just a matter of getting the facts straight: In some places across the world, it can literally mean life or death for Jewish communities under siege."


Greenblatt offered advice on how media outlets could do a better job going forward. 

"Number one, center your stories on how this story started, which was a Hamas, not an attack, a massacre, not an incursion, a slaughter. They killed 1,400 -- and growing -- innocent, living, breathing humans," he said. 

"Number two, you know, choose your language carefully. Remember what you learned in, like, the school of journalism. This really does boggle my mind. It's like these people went to the Al Qaeda School of Propaganda," Greenblatt added. "What's going on in their heads? Don't they realize we're seeing their biases when they warp the conversation to pretend like, for example, Hamas is some innocent organization. So, choose your words carefully and don't bias the coverage." 

The third point, which Greenblatt called "crucial," is to always fact-check information and not to rely on info from the Hamas terror group. His comments came after The New York Times admitted that "editors should have taken more care with the initial presentation" of the explosion that occurred at a Gaza hospital last week after the paper "relied too heavily on claims by Hamas." 

"So, when you get press releases, from, again, the equivalent of ISIS. Yeah, I think you should question them. And I think when you report on this information, I think you should source it appropriately," he said.

"It's not the Health Ministry of Gaza. It's the Hamas Ministry of Gaza. I mean, it's not a Health Ministry spokesperson. It's a Hamas spokesperson," Greenblatt said. "So, say that and remind people that Hamas is a terror organization as designated by the U.S. State Department, the European Union, and dozens and dozens of governments around the world."

Fox News’ Kristine Parks and David Rutz contributed to this report. 


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