A 20 Year CNN Career Ends for Octavia Nasr After a Controversial Tweet.

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Octavia NasrIt didn't take long from posting a Tweet to losing a job.

On Monday, CNN reporter Octavia Nasr, who had been with CNN for 20 years (most recently as Senior Editor of Mid East Affairs) tweeted: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah… One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.”

Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was the leading Shiite cleric in Lebanon and long regarded as the spiritual mentor for Hezbollah. The NY Daily News describes the sheik: "Fadallah had often praised suicide bombings - including one in 2008 that left 8 students dead at an Israeli yeshiva. He was also fiercely anti-American."

Thousands of Lebanese shiite attend funeral of Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 6, 2010. Fadlallah was one of shiite Islam's highest authorities, and seen as Hezbollah's mentor. Photo by Balkis Press/ABACAPRESS.COM Photo via Newscom

By Tuesday, a storm had broken loose.

Response came quickly. Tuesday Nasr posted this and more in her blog on the CNN site:

Reaction to my tweet was immediate, overwhelming and a provides a good lesson on why 140 characters should not be used to comment on controversial or sensitive issues, especially those dealing with the Middle East.

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. That's not the case at all.

Here's what I should have conveyed more fully:

I used the words "respect" and "sad" because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman's rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of "honor killing." He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam.

She went on to describe an interview she had with Fadllalah and chronicled his complex history in Hezbollah. And she regretted her judgment once again.

It was too little and too late. By Wednesday, she lost her job.

Below is the internal memo from CNN obtained by Mediaite. Excerpts from the memo are also posted on the CNN site in their announcement of her departure.

From Parisa Khosravi – SVP CNN International Newsgathering

I had a conversation with Octavia this morning and I want to share with you that we have decided that she will be leaving the company. As you know, her tweet over the weekend created a wide reaction. As she has stated in her blog on CNN.com, she fully accepts that she should not have made such a simplistic comment without any context whatsoever. However, at this point, we believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward.

As a colleague and friend we’re going to miss seeing Octavia everyday. She has been an extremely dedicated and committed part of our team. We thank Octavia for all of her hard work and we certainly wish her all the best.


What do you think? Should she have been fired? If you've blogged about this, link to your blog in your comments here.

~~ Contributing Editor, Mata H. also blogs right along at Time's Fool

Image of Octavia Nasr courtesy CNN.

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