Someone at CNN must have forgotten to tell Marc Lamont Hill about the cable news channel’s vaunted campaign against “America’s state of hate” in time to stop the ubiquitous contributor from calling for a violent uprising against Israel in a vile speech to the U.N.
CNN recently published a feature series that sought to put a spotlight on racism and hate crimes that have occurred in the United States. Earlier this week it also aired a special on widespread anti-Semitism in Europe. Meanwhile, The Washington Examiner published a piece on Thursday headlined, “Is CNN now just okay with genocidal rhetoric aimed at Jews?”
In his U.N. speech Wednesday, Hill lambasted Israel while calling for a "free Palestine from the river to the sea" — language critics describe as a "dog whistle" advocating the elimination of Israel. The network is now being widely condemned over Hill’s comment.
“In the Trump era, CNN has made countering racism and hatred a large part of their news coverage, so with Marc Lamont Hill's latest comments calling for the elimination of Israel ‘from the river to the sea,’ it faces a test of whether employing genocidal rhetoric targeting Jews is okay,” Washington Examiner executive editor Philip Klein wrote.
"CNN has made countering racism and hatred a large part of their news coverage, so with Marc Lamont Hill's latest comments calling for the elimination of Israel ‘from the river to the sea,’ it faces a test of whether employing genocidal rhetoric targeting Jews is okay"
Klein pointed out that CNN has decided hateful comments and actions by personalities such as Kathy Griffin and Reza Aslan have “crossed the line,” so the network clearly has some boundaries. Klein then asked, “Does Hill's eliminationist rhetoric make the cut? If not, then why?”
CNN did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Klein continued: “If CNN decides to keep Hill on, they at least owe their viewers a detailed explanation as to why they believe genocidal rhetoric against Jews is within the boundaries of legitimate debate, and why it's more acceptable than statements that have had led to the dismissals of other CNN personalities.”
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker surely knew what he was getting when Hill was hired as a political commentator for the network -- as he’s always voiced strong opinions.
“The challenge for CNN now is to decide if it wants to continue its association with Hill, basically deciding if the sort of advocacy that was on display by Hill at the U.N. fits in with the role of an on-air commentator,” McCall said. “One of the problems with hiring highly charged political commentators for television is that those commentators tend to make highly charged remarks. CNN might well appreciate this kind of rhetoric and the attention it draws, but they might also consider if there are other, more measured voices that could provide perspectives in a diplomatic fashion that enhances rather than inflames dialogue.”
"The challenge for CNN now is to decide if it wants to continue its association with Hill"
In the remarks, Hill also accused the Israeli government of “normalizing settler colonialism” and drew a comparison to the civil rights movement in America and suggested violence could be a tool for Palestinian activists.
“If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. We must prioritize peace, but we must not romanticize or fetishize it,” the CNN regular said.
At one point, Hill even poured himself some water and told participants that he just got off a flight from “Palestine” and that “I was boycotting the Israeli water so I was unable to quench my thirst.”
Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News that Hill’s comments are an example of “the normalization of left-wing, genocidal anti-Semitism,” and compared it to rhetoric by Louis Farrakhan – who has been tied to Hill in the past.
“Hill works for two media outlets -- BET News and CNN -- and I bet neither one of them thinks there is anything wrong with the genocide he is advocating. Watch the major media ignore this story like they typically censor any story about liberal bigots,” Gainor said.
"Watch the major media ignore this story like they typically censor any story about liberal bigots"
Many watchdogs took to Twitter to condemn Hill's comments and point out his role at CNN.
The controversy surrounding Hill’s comments was not included in the Wednesday edition of CNN’s “Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter” newsletter – which is widely considered required reading for the media elite. TheWrap media editor Jon Levine tweeted that skipping the news raises “questions about the ability and freedom of the media team at CNN to cover their own network.”
Hill tweeted the following response to the criticism: “In my speech, I talked about the need to return to the pre-1967 borders, to give full rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to allow right of return. No part of this is a call to destroy Israel. It’s absurd on its face.”
Fox News’ Adam Show and Ben Evansky contributed to this report.