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CNN - ZNN (Zionist News Network)

Follow the recent story in reverse-chronological order:

Damage Control at CNN

By Wajih Halawa
Arab News
June 30, 2002


Telling the truth is difficult in these days of phony wars. Take, for example, the case of media mogul Ted Turner, the man who brought us the ubiquitous Cable News Network, which he built into a media conglomerate to be reckoned with by any journalistic standard. In an interview with Britain’s prominent newspaper The Guardian, Turner attempted to shed some fairness on the issue of Palestinians civilians suffering from the inhuman practices of the Israeli army, arguing that “both sides are engaged in terrorism.”
Although Turner himself has no role in CNN’s coverage of any news items, uproar ensued against CNN immediately, with the network’s Jerusalem bureau being flooded with hate mail and threats from Israelis. Local Israeli cable channels have decided to air Fox News instead, and threatened to take CNN off the air for supposedly being “biased” against Israel. Apparently, if the Israeli army bulldozes Palestinian homes, or kills unarmed Palestinian civilians in cold blood using tank shells (usually labeled a “mistake” by the Israeli army), reporting on such actions is deemed “biased,” “anti-Israel,” and “pro-terrorist.”

CNN immediately flew its top executive to Israel after Turner apologized in an interview with Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, and the network hastily compiled a weeklong series focusing on the victims of Palestinian terror. An apology was also issued because an interview with the family of a Palestinian suicide bomber received more programming time than interviews with the family of two of his victims. According to Eason Jordan, CNN’s president of newsgathering, this was “rectified… by airing extensively the interview with the [victims’] family.”

On Monday, CNN’s web site was plastered with news items about Israeli victims of terror, a “timeline” of terror (mentioning only acts of violence conducted against Israelis), and the “requirement” for ousting Yasser Arafat. Number of news items discussing Palestinians victims of Israel’s relentless shooting, shelling, demolitions, arrests, torture, land confiscation, and other human rights abuses: zero. Tuesday featured a spotlight on an Israeli paramedic, and the stress that EMT’s go through in their fight to save lives and respond quickly to attacks on Israeli civilians (no mention of how the Israeli army fires at Palestinian ambulances – at least Israelis are allowed medical care). Wednesday’s spotlight is on Israeli bus drivers facing terror.

A Palestinian man and his son running for cover from Israeli fire; such images were never reported by CNN

In a final insult, yesterday’s “analysis” of George W. Bush’s “peace plan” for the Middle East was moderated by a panel consisting entirely of right-wing figures known for their anti-Arab stances. The panel consisted of Rev. Pat Robertson, the vehemently anti-Arab and anti-Muslim founder of the Christian Coalition; Ra’anan Gissin, Ariel Sharon’s adviser; Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), House majority whip and projected successor to Richard Armey (who recently defended ethnic cleansing of Palestinians); Rich Lowry of the National Review, probably America’s most right-wing magazine; Robert Novak, right-wing political analyst for CNN; and Carl Jeffers, a syndicated columnist.

Besides the fact that there were no representatives of the Palestinian side to balance the exaggerations and misleading statements of Ra’anan Gissin, Robert Novak was the only person to blatantly say that Bush’s speech pandered to all of Ariel Sharon’s demands. The panel highlighted CNN’s desperate attempts to pick up the mess left by Ted Turner, with a lunge to the far right to avoid being abandoned for Fox News in Israeli cable markets. Eric Alterman of MSNBC states clearly, “when the Israelis and their most right-wing supporters rule the roost… nobody even notices the egregious bias in the presentation.”

CNN deserves congratulations for stooping to a new low in unethical journalism. It proves what we’ve known all along: that Israel’s influence on US media and foreign policy are so great, they can distort and hide any semblance of the truth.

Protesters Challenge CNN’s Middle East Coverage

By Tom MacMaster
June 30, 2002


Atlanta, Georgia - On Sunday June 30, a sweltering summer day in Georgia, a crowd of 150 people gathered along a busy Atlanta street across from CNN (Cable News Network) headquarters in downtown Atlanta.  Chant’s of “CNN Stop Lying, Palestinians are dying,” and “CNN-half the story, all the time” echoed along Marietta street.

In the aftermath of Ted Turner’s recent comments to a British newspaper, Atlanta Palestine Solidarity (APS), a recently formed Palestine advocacy group, called the demonstration in response to what they consider to be CNN’s, “apparent caving in to political and financial pressures from Israel and it’s supporters in the U.S.” Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, recently accused Israel in an interview to the Manchester Guardian of engaging in "terrorism" against the Palestinians.  Though he later apologized for his comments, the company he founded in 1981, distanced itself from him and responded by producing a five-part documentary series on Israeli civilians killed since September 2000 titled, “Victims of Terror”.  In addition, CNN has created an online memorial on its website with pictures and brief biographies of only the Israelis killed during the current Palestinian uprising.

In a statement issued by APS on June 24, the group demanded that CNN dedicate equal coverage to the Palestinian victims killed by Israel in an equivalent five part series.  They also demanded a complete tally of every single child, woman, elderly or innocent Palestinian civilian be included on CNN’s web page.  Speaking about the protest, APS member Adam Levenstein said, “For a fledgling group that organized this protest in less than a week, this is pretty damn good.”  Levenstein also referred to the many groups who had joined APS in sponsoring this demonstration.  These included Al-Awda - Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Palestine Media Watch, Refuse and Resist – Atlanta, Islamic Association for Palestine, Arab-American Christians for Peace, International Action Center and the Georgia chapter of the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee.

Tracey Green who had come with Refuse and Resist explained why her group endorsed the call, “We stand with the people around the world and not with what the US government is doing by supporting Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians.”

When questioned about allegations that Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians is not equivalent to suicide attacks by Palestinian militants, local Al-Awda organizer, Yosef Abuneaj said, “Every major human rights organization such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem has said that Israel targets civilians for political purposes.  Not one human rights organization supports the ludicrous notion that Israel does not target civilians. Since far more Palestinian civilians are thus killed by Israeli forces than the other way around, it is clear that the Israeli army is engaged in far greater terrorism than anything Palestinians are capable of doing.”

When questioned about CNN’s current coverage, Rani El-Hajjar, the Atlanta regional coordinator of Palestine Media Watch also objected to CNN’s adoption of what he called “Israeli terminology.” El-Hajjar said that “CNN’s exclusion of Palestinians and its referral to exclusively Jewish settlements as ‘neighborhoods’ is a distortion of facts; these settlements are in contravention of internationally accepted legal norms.  People are being mislead and this must end.”

The organizers of the protest promised to coordinate with other groups around the country in a national demonstration next spring if CNN persists in what they consider to be “blatantly racist, pro-Israel propaganda”.




Jonathan Cook
al-Ahram (Egypt)
28 June 2002


If anyone was in any doubt about who was going to emerge victorious from the public relations battle between an American billionaire media mogul and the Israeli government, the answer was reliably delivered by Cable News Network (CNN).

The American 24-hour television channel filled the screen with a short message brought to the viewers in big red type: "Ted Turner's views are his own and they do not in any way reflect the views of CNN."

The row that followed CNN founder Ted Turner's comparison last week of Israel's military actions in the occupied territories with Palestinian suicide attacks -- saying both were forms of terrorism -- was an object lesson in the intimidatory practices now routinely employed by the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government against the foreign media.

The only difference on this occasion was that the target of the criticism was a television channel whose Middle East coverage is widely seen as taking an overly sympathetic line towards Israel. Palestinians sometimes sarcastically refer to CNN as ZNN, or the "Zionist News Network".

Turner's comments to the London-based The Guardian newspaper, although extreme by the standards of political opinion in the United States and Israel, were a fair reflection of the views of the Israel-Palestinian conflict prevalent in the rest of the world.

But as CNN officials hurriedly and repeatedly pointed out, Turner had absolutely no editorial control over the channel.

It is a sign of how far the Israeli consensus has moved to the right in the past 21 months of the Intifada that the Israeli government chose to use Turner's unguarded comments as a pretext for mounting an assault on the channel and a more predictable whipping-boy, the BBC.

The charge was led by Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, a member of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party, who announced that CNN news reports were "evil, biased and unbalanced". He added ominously: "We are considering what to do with the network's correspondents."

CNN's chief news executive, Eason Jordan, responded by dashing to Israel to meet Rivlin and try to damp down the fire. He apologised for "errors" such as the decision to give more air time to the family of suicide bomber than the mother of the child he killed.

Yet, it was left-wing Israeli media commentator, Aviv Lavie, who pointed out that the decision to give priority to the killer's family satisfied all normal journalistic criteria.

In an interview with the right-wing English-language daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post, Jordan also promised that the families of suicide bombers would no longer be shown on the channel "unless there is a compelling reason to do so".

This was followed by an apparently unrelated decision to begin a five-part series called "Victims of Terror" which will examine the way Israelis deal with the fear of suicide attacks.

Jordan was too late, however, to stop the Yes satellite company from adding Fox news to its channel list, in what was widely interpreted as a punishment. Rupert Murdoch, a staunch friend of Israel, is known for interfering editorially.

Rivlin also indicated that he would approve any decision by Yes and the consortium of three cable channels to remove CNN from their packages. The channels said they were not planning to ban CNN or the BBC, although some board members very publicly pressured for a boycott. The Israeli government meanwhile appeared happy to leave the threat of a ban hanging in the air.

An editorial in Israel's liberal Haaretz newspaper opined: "It is difficult to avoid the impression that the meeting between Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin and CNN's director of news was meant to prepare the groundwork for closing the channel in Israel, whether now or in the future."

It is a view shared by Filastin Ismael, director of the Ilam Centre in Haifa which monitors the behaviour of the Israeli media. "It is absurd that CNN has been pushed on to the defensive over its coverage of the conflict when the whole Arab world, and much of the rest of the world, sees it as sycophantically pro-Israel.

"Israel has been very quick to condemn Arab regimes for cracking down on dissenting opinion and boast about its own democratic credentials. But which Arab countries are threatening to ban major international news channels like CNN and the BBC?"

The Israeli government, points out Ismael and others, has not only been trying to threaten foreign news providers. Its own journalists have been feeling the heavy hand of government intimidation in recent months.

For example, the new director general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Yosef Barel, an appointment personally approved by Sharon, has banned the use of the terms "settlement" or "settlers" on radio and television broadcasts.

The instruction came shortly after Environment Minister Tzachi Hanegbi objected to the frequent use of the terms in broadcasts.

Camelia Suleiman, an assistant professor of communications at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, is highly critical of Barel and the government mindset he represents. Barel, she says, was a key figure in Israeli television and radio's Arabic broadcasting, which was directed at the Arab minority, from the 1960s.

"What Arab citizens were offered was a diet of Zionist propaganda. Now that he is in charge of Hebrew programming, one could say he is inflicting on Israel's Jewish journalists what its Arab journalists have had to endure for decades."

Suleiman resigned in January from the committee overseeing the development of Israel's first Arabic satellite channel, which was launched this week. As the only Arab member of the committee she was outspoken in her criticisms of the channel's programmers, who she says had no respect for Arab culture.

She added: "The atmosphere in Israel now is one of intolerance of different arguments. Television is becoming more and more closed - there is just a single view of the conflict presented right across the media. The attack on CNN is just a small part of a bigger picture about what can and cannot be said in Israel at the moment."


[Palestine Media Watch Alert]
CNN's blatant double standards: Palestinian victims do not get the same attention as Israeli victims

June 24, 2002

In the most blatant display yet of double standards in its treatment of innocent Palestinian and Israeli civilian victims of the violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, CNN has decided to air a five part special all this week focusing on the toll the violence has had on Israelis and Israeli society (See: ) without any sign that it has anything similar in the works about Palestinian victims.

In the page on its website announcing the series, CNN writes: "If you went to a baseball game tonight and looked around, and say, half the stadium was filled, you would see about 25,000 other fans. If you were living in Israel, it is likely that one of you would be killed in a terrorist attack in the next six months."
(See ).
The page comes complete with heart-rending depictions of some of the innocent victims, personal information, their background, and two side-by-side pictures of 5 year old Gal Eisenman and her grandmother, Noa Alon, both victims in one of the latest suicide bombings.

What is important to note is that the new series comes immediately in the heels of a huge controversy sparked by Ted Turner, founder of CNN and vice chairman of AOL Time Warner, for saying in a June 18, 2002, interview to the Guardian (UK): "The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers, that's all they have. The Israelis ... they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism."

In response to the firestorm that ensued from pro-Israeli groups who accused Turner of equating Israeli actions against Palestinians with terrorism, CNN came out with the following statement on June 19th: "Ted Turner has no operational or editorial oversight of CNN. Mr. Turner's comments are his own and definitely do not reflect the views of CNN in any way." Mr. Turner himself "clarified" his statement by saying: "I regret any implication that I believe the actions taken by Israel to protect its people are equal to terrorism. ... I believe the Israeli government has used excessive force to defend itself, but that is not the same as intentionally targeting and killing civilians with suicide bombers."

However, it is clear that neither CNN's repudiation of Turner's comments nor Turner's penitent retraction have been deemed sufficiant by the pro-Israeli forces. Indeed, as reported on a June 23 Haaretz article (see full article below):

After the founder of the 24-hour news network, Ted Turner, last week described IDF actions in the West Bank as "terrorism," and reports emerged Sunday that the YES satellite company was considering taking CNN off the air as a result, the Atlanta-based company hastily dispatched a high-level official to Jerusalem.

Over the weekend, it also suddenly began airing a promo for a five-part series on the Israeli victims of Palestinian suicide bombings. "A special CNN series will take you inside everyday life in Israel and introduce you to the people whose lives are turned around by the fear and the violence," the promo announces. "In part one - living the nightmare of losing a loved one."

In addition to the five-part series, CNN has gone all the way and has published on its web site the names/pictures/bio of every single Israeli killed over the past two years, and a "special report" on Israeli victims of terror.


In its attempt to convey the magitude of the impact of the violence on Israeli society, CNN notes:

"One of every 26,392 Israelis has been killed in a terrorist attack in the past six months. The same ratio applied to the population of the United States would equate to 10,888 American citizens. That's more than three times the number of people killed in the September 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and aboard United Airlines Flight 93."

The crucial next question now is: given that CNN cares deeply about the effect of violence and terror on ordinary, innocent civilians, will it have a five-part series on innocent Palestinian victims of Israeli shelling and killing, probe into the effect of such violence will have on Palestinian society, Palestinian childre, and will it have the equivalent web site set up for those victims? Will we see, for instance, the picture, name, and background info for every single Palestinian child, woman, and elderly killed, and male civilian who had nothing to do with the militant resistance?

Will CNN explain that

"one of every 3,648 Palestinians (713 total) has been killed in an Israeli military attack or Israeli terrorist attack in the past 6 months. The same ratio applied to the population of the United States would equate to 78,773 American citizens. That's more than 26 times the number of people killed in the September 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and aboard United Airlines Flight 93"?[1]

And will they note that: By the time the first Israeli was killed from a suicide bombing in March 1, 2001 -- more than 5 months into the second Intifada -- over 400 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli soldiers, police, and armed ‘settlers’?

Will they also note that according to the Associated Press, there have been a total of 242 Israeli deaths due to ‘suicide bombers.’ In the month of March, 2002, alone, the Israeli’s killed 248 Palestinians?

These questions are not a rhetorical, and they need to be asked honestly and urgently of CNN.

Below are phone numbers and email addresses for you to use in asking the question. You can also use the interface below to send your letter to all the main addresses in CNN (including the ones lister here).

For Previous alerts on CNN double standards:

CNN's pathetic pandering


CNN's Paula Zahn is no objective journalist

CNN's outrageous glaring double standards

CNN's new policy: Gilo is a "Jewish neighborhood"

CNN's true colors showing

Some contact information:

CNN Headquarters
Address One CNN Center, Box 105366, Atlanta GA 30303
Tel 404-827-1500
Fax 404-827-1906

CNN Washington Bureau
Address 820 First St NE, Washington DC 20002
Tel 202-898-7900
Fax 202-898-7923
DC Bureau Chief Kathryn Kross
DC Booking Unit (Political) Jill Neff 202-898-7926/7667 , Mark Allen

Reliable Sources
Address 820 1st St NE, Washington DC 20002
Tel 202-898-7620
Fax 202-898-7611
Anchors Howard Kurtz
202-334-7535 , Bernard Kalb
Senior Producer Jennifer Avellinio

Palestine Media Watch




*The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Results of the First Palestinian Census, September 17, 2000, (21 May 2001).

*Palestine Red Crescent Society

*The World Bank (West Bank and Gaza Strip)

*Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator (UNSCO)-Gaza

*Ramallah Hospital

*Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza





CNN blinks first in battle with Israeli officials

By Peter Hirschberg,
Ha'aretz Correspondent
June 23, 2002

After months of gnawing agitation over what they perceive as the pro-Palestinian bias of the international media, Israeli officials, and not a small portion of the public, were able to rub their hands with some glee Sunday as the mighty CNN news network appeared to be succumbing to the latest round of anti-media pique in Israel.

After the founder of the 24-hour news network, Ted Turner, last week described IDF actions in the West Bank as "terrorism," and reports emerged Sunday that the YES satellite company was considering taking CNN off the air as a result, the Atlanta-based company hastily dispatched a high-level official to Jerusalem.

Over the weekend, it also suddenly began airing a promo for a five-part series on the Israeli victims of Palestinian suicide bombings. "A special CNN series will take you inside everyday life in Israel and introduce you to the people whose lives are turned around by the fear and the violence," the promo announces. "In part one - living the nightmare of losing a loved one."

Ahead of his scheduled Sunday evening meeting with Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive, Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin announced that he would not object if Israel's cable companies submitted a request to remove the BBC - considered by many Israelis to be the most hostile of the TV networks - and CNN from the basic broadcasting package, with the stations being offered only to those viewers willing to pay extra for them. Later, Rivlin said the satellite broadcaster YES was in fact planning to submit a request to the Cable and Satellite TV Council to cease airing the BBC and CNN.

"CNN's reports are not only anti-Israeli but also encourage terrorism," Rivlin said. "If Turner had made these foolish remarks in Israel, he would have been declared persona non grata, and we are considering what to do about the network's correspondents."

Seizing the opportunity, other politicians also weighed into the international media Sunday, with Tommy Lapid venting his wrath on the British press - considered by many Israelis to be the most antagonistic toward the Jewish state. "Newspapers like the Independent and the Guardian are working in the service of the Hamas," Lapid remarked.

IDF spokesman Ron Kitri insisted all the networks were guilty of uncritically presenting the Palestinian viewpoint. "When Saeb Erekat accused Israel [on CNN] of massacring 500 Palestinians in Jenin, no questions were asked," he said. "But when we said that a few dozen were killed, we were immediately asked to back up our claim."

While Kitri said he was opposed to pulling the plug on CNN and BBC, he did offer alternative punitive measures: "If I have an exclusive interview to offer," he said, "I can give it to one network and not to another."

The YES satellite company denied the reports Sunday it was planning to submit a request to the Cable and Satellite TV Council to cease airing the BBC and CNN stations, but immediately after Turner's comments were published last week, it did add Fox News - perceived by many to be unabashedly pro-Israel - to its menu of news stations.

Army Radio ran a recorded section from a Fox program in an effort to illustrate the contrast between Fox and CNN: "Two suicide bombings in Israel in the last two days," announced the anchor. "Where do the people who do these horrible deeds get the money to do these horrible deeds?"

For all the refined talk about journalistic ethics and balance, it also emerged Sunday that the cable companies acute sensitivity to the public's dislike of the news networks coverage appears to have a strong economic component - their sense that they are paying CNN an astronomical sum for broadcast rights. "We pay CNN millions of dollars every year," said Ran Belnikov, the director-general of the cable companies. "This sum is over the top and unjustified." Belnikov did submit, though, that linking the two issue "might be a little problematic."

CNN's Jordan, though, did pick up some ammunition over the weekend which he might well choose to utilize in his meeting with Rivlin. In his meetings with Palestinian officials over the weekend, he discovered, residents in the West Bank appear to be as peeved with CNN as their Israeli counterparts.

Asked about how he views CNN coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmed Sief, a lecturer in communications at Bir Zeit University, offered an explanation that sounded uncannily like the Palestinian version of Rivlin: "CNN covers the Israeli point of view and tends to ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian side is considered less important from the news point of view and the language of the broadcast is pro-Israeli.

CNN chief news executive in Israel
to hear complaints

Israel Radio report (7am)
June 23, 2002

The chief news executive and news gathering president of CNN cable television network, Eason Jordan, will meet with Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin today.

He will hear from Rivlin about Israel's complaints regarding the nature of the coverage the network gives to events in Israel.

Jordan said that that CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer was assigned the preparation of a five part series on the victims of terror attacks Israel.

Yesterday, Minister Rivlin said that he would not object to taking CNN off the air, if he receives such a request for financial reasons or according to requests by viewers. He said that the Yes satellite company is about to submit a request to the Cable and Satellite Broadcast Board to remove BBC's news channel from its basic viewing package.

In a radio interview, the communications minister said that should he receive such a request, BBC executives will be called in for a hearing, and his ministry would not object to removing the channel. Rivlin said he would consider allowing people who wish to watch the channels to pay for it separately.




by Hagai Krauss and Gabby Kessler
June 23, 2002

Executives at CNN have asked the correspondent Wolf Blitzer to prepare a series of programs that will present the stories of five families who were hurt by terrorism.

CNN executives are deeply concerned about the public mood in Israel regarding their coverage of events in Israel and the territories. Network executives have taken very seriously the threats by the cable companies to stop broadcasting their channel in Israel, claiming that such a measure would be in response to viewers' requests.

The director of the network's news division, Eason Jordan, is to arrive in Israel today. Jordan is to meet with media and public relations executives in Israel in the course of his urgent meetings. The reason for his visit is the complaint about a lack of objectivity in the network's coverage of the events and the statements made by the founder of the network, Ted Turner, who equated between IDF activity in the territories and the suicide bombers. Jordan is also to meet with Communications Minister Ruby Rivlin this evening. Rivlin said yesterday that the possibility of taking the BBC off the air was also being examined. He said that any subscriber to cable television would be able to receive the BBC as part of a package.

Prior to his departure, Jordan announced that CNN would not broadcast any more video cassettes left behind by Palestinian suicide bombers before their mission. Jordan said: a distinction needs to be made between being fair and being balanced when youre talking about terror. Naturally, all the parties need to be given an opportunity to be heard, but we won't give terrorists and their supporters the same air time we give the victims of terror, said Jordan.

Jordan instructed his editors not to broadcast the tapes left behind by suicide bombers or the reactions of their relatives unless there is an unusual reason. CNN officials said that similar instructions were received about bin Laden's tapes.

The satellite television operator, Yes, began to air Fox News on Thursday. Fox is considered to be pro-Israel and is particularly appreciated by American Jews. Fox is considered to be CNN's most bitter enemy and, for the first time since going on the air in 1996, last January its ratings exceeded those of CNN.


Ted Turners original comments in the Guardian:

CNN chief accuses Israel of terror

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
The Guardian
June 18, 2002

Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, accuses Israel today of engaging in "terrorism" against the Palestinians, in comments that threaten to lead to a further decline in the news network's already poor relations with the Jewish state.

"Aren't the Israelis and the Palestinians both terrorising each other?" says Turner, who is vice-chairman of AOL Time Warner, which owns CNN, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian.

"The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers, that's all they have. The Israelis ... they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism."

His remarks were last night condemned by Ariel Sharon's government, which called them "stupid". Andrea Levin, director of the American pro-Israeli media watchdog Camera, said the comments were a "reprehensible" attempt to "blur the line between perpetrator and victim".

In his first British interview since the September 11 attacks, Mr Turner - who broke philanthropic records in 1997 when he donated $1bn to the UN - argues that poverty and desperation are the root cause of Palestinian suicide bombings.

But Daniel Seaman, a spokesman for the Israeli government, said: "My only advice to Ted Turner is if people assume you are stupid, it is just best to keep your mouth shut rather than open your mouth and confirm everyone in that view."

Mr Turner also admits that he was wrong to call the September 11 hijackers "brave" in a speech in Rhode Island that sparked outrage. "I made an unfortunate choice of words," he says, adding that his ownership of the Atlanta Braves baseball team meant the word was never far from his mind. "Look, I'm a very good thinker, but I sometimes grab the wrong word ... I mean, I don't type my speeches, then sit up there and read them off the teleprompter, you know. I wing it."

Mr Turner is moved to tears at one point in the interview by the "depressing" combination of conflicts like that in the Middle East and the state of the environment, which he says demands massive global attention - "or, you know ... it's goodbye".

A senior minister in Yasser Arafat's cabinet told the Guardian he welcomed Mr Turner's comments. Many Palestinians complain just as bitterly of a pro-Israeli bias in CNN's coverage - mocking it as the "Zionist News Network" - as Israel complains of a pro-Palestinian one.

"I feel it reflects a more consistent approach," said Ghassan Khatib, Mr Arafat's newly appointed labour minister and until recently director of the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre, a Palestinian media monitoring unit.

"One of the problems in trying to reduce the violence has been the focus of so much international attention on Israeli rather than Palestinian civilian deaths, although four times as many Palestinians have been killed."

CNN has been a punchbag for both sides. A widespread perception of bias among some Israelis and US supporters of Israel has prompted several boycotts by pressure groups, urging viewers to switch to Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel. But three months ago, in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Mr Arafat slammed down the phone after accusing her of anti-Palestinian bias. "You are covering with these questions the terrorist activities of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli crimes," he said. "Be quiet. Be fair. Thank you, bye-bye."