By Alex Zielinski
On March 18, renowned CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour announced her transfer to ABC News’ ‘This Week’. This decision lead to a heated discussion over Amanpour’s qualifications for this position, as it would be covering national, rather than international news, and her alleged lack of news objectivity.
The latter sugestion was brought up by The Washington Post‘s Tom Shales, best known for his TV review column, in his opinion piece titled “ABC’s choice of Amanpour for ‘This Week’ has critics inside the network and beyond.”
In this article, Shales examines Amanpour’s recent appointment from a negative angle- shining a light on her past flaws by citing questionable sources. He cites a Facebook group with 100 members, “Christiane Amanpour’s Outright Bias Against Israel Must Stop,” as his primary source as to why Amanpour holds prejudice against Israel. Additionally, Shales uses an “unnamed network veteran” of ABC as his only source inside the ABC newsroom and after claiming that “ABC News is practically in a state of internal revolt over her selection.”
The one issue discussed in Shales’ piece that I can understand is over her qualifications to be a national reporter. With a lifetime of experience working in international media, Amanpour has had surprisingly little participation in national news. Nonetheless, I see her as a talented journalist who can quickly change scenery and catch up on her new beat.
My biggest problem with Shales’ perspective are his claims to Amanpour’s bias. Amanpour is half-Persian, and grew up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Shales appears to reject Amanpour’s subjectivity altogether bases on this sole “accusation,” which is a frustrating realization.
This perspective subtly pushes a hegemonic view, assuming that any reporter with a non-American background (which, in reality, is the majority), would have a bias towards their country of origin. What a huge step backward in the world of international journalism.
Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald critiques Shales’ piece, and also sees the attack on Amanpour’s heritage unneccessary. “Could the double standard here be any more obvious or unpleasant?” writes Greenwald. He goes on to list multiple well-known journalists who have been accused of a pro-Israel bias, based on their Jewish background. However, Greenwald says, the Washington Post would never blame an American journalist for being excessively pro-Israel. It seems as though Shale simply needed a vague reason to come down on Amanpour.
The point of being a trustworthy journalist is to be able to put a barrier between your own opinion and your job. I believe that you are able to have your own strong beliefs, based on your cultural background or not, and still produce well-balanced, objective content.