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20-Year CNN Vet Octavia Nasr Tweets About Hezbollah Cleric, Gets Canned by Network

olivia nasr gets firedHere is this week's Reason That Twitter Should Be Banned. In yet another high-profile overshare, Octavia Nasr, the Lebanese-born Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs for CNN, was fired Tuesday for posting a single tweet about the passing of one of Hezbollah's most influential clerics. She wrote: "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." Despite the fact that Nasr had served CNN for 20 years, the news giant decided to sack her because "her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised," according to an internal memo.

Hezbollah, a sometimes violent political party and resistance group in Lebanon, has been classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization since 1999, although other U.S. allies are conflicted. Fadlallah was less a contributor to the group's militarist philosophy than a spiritual leader, although his political positions have ranged from humanitarian to outright cruel. He had questioned the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, and even praised attacks on Israel (no surprise there, considering the conflict of 2006). Still, he also condemned the September 11th attacks -- despite loathing U.S. foreign policy -- and has championed women's rights within a religious dogma that often relegates them to the background.

Nasr half-apologized for the controversial tweet in a blog post Monday before she left for good. She wrote that it "was an error of judgment for me to write such a simplistic comment and I'm sorry because it conveyed that I supported Fadlallah's life's work." She notes that the cleric was far from perfect in his views, but that she did respect the fact that "Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman's rights," such as the opposition to female circumcision and honor killings.

She further notes that the main body of Hezbollah leadership pushed Fadlallah to the side as he became more critical of its alliance with Iran, and that he was later referred to as only "the scholar -- the expert on Islam -- but nothing more." Still, she regretted her tweet (well, wouldn't you?), since it didn't adequately contextualize her sentiment. As we've seen with the recent Syrian cake-and-coffee fiasco, and with Dave Weigel's (possibly coerced) resignation from the Washington Post after a private e-mail that blasted Matt Drudge made its way onto the Internet, the digital landscape has proven to be a dangerous place for those charged with high seriousness and objectivity to voice their opinions. The experience, says Nasr, "provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues." We hear that. [From: Mediaite and CNN]

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