Who would have thought that a two line tweet could end a 20 year career in journalism? It surely wasn’t CNN’s senior Middle East editor Octavia Nasr, who was quickly dismissed after posting an “outrageous” comment on twitter following the passing of Lebanon’s Ayatollah Fadlallah: “Sad to hear about the passing of Seyyed Mohammad Fadlallah…one of Hezbollah’s Giants I respect a lot.”
Nasr, a Lebanese Christian who was amongst the first women to ever interview Fadlallah immediately clarified that she did not intend to praise the cleric’s life and work in toto, but rather simply call attention to the fact that he was held a “contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights.”
Although she scrambled to justify her comments about the cleric — which were much less flattering than those offered by US allies Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, Lebanese PM Sa’ad Hariri, or British Ambassador to Lebanon — it wasn’t enough for the bosses.
Given that Nasr lasted about three days and Helen Thomas about a week, some would say that she hung on pretty long. But more disturbing than the breakneck speed at which Nasr’s case was open and shut is the chilling reality that, despite the principles of freedom of speech and thought that provide the foundation of our society dangerous redlines still exist.