Octavia Nasr (Arabic: اوكتافيا نصر) is a journalist who covers Middle East affairs. She served as CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast affairs until her dismissal in July 2010 over her public statement of respect on Twitter for the Lebanese cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who she considered "one of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."
Octavia Nasr was born in Hadath Baabda, Lebanon to Lebanese Greek Orthodox Christian parents. She studied in Beirut between 1968 and 1978; primary and middle school at the Sœurs des Saints Cœurs in Hadath. She completed her high school studies at the Collège des Pères Antonins in Hadath Baabda, Lebanon. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Lebanese American University (LAU). She has started her graduate studies in Middle Eastern affairs at Georgia State University (GSU), in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Nasr began her career as an assistant News Director at the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) in Lebanon. She later became Executive Producer of the channel's main news bulletin and then turned to reporting. As a war correspondent at LBC she covered the Lebanon Civil War and interviewed political figures from the different warring factions from 1988 to 1990. Lawlessness and a rise in journalists' kidnapping drove western broadcasters to close down their operations during that time. On behalf of LBC, Nasr contributed reports and filed live updates to CNN's World Report program during that period.
In 1990, Nasr moved to CNN and worked there in various capacities until 2010. She coordinated CNN's coverage of the Gulf War as part of the international assignment desk in 1991. She also ran the news gathering operation for the CNN World Report program before she became the program's anchor and Editor. After 9/11/2001 her role changed to Senior Editor of Arab affairs coordinating coverage with various Arab networks and providing on air and behind-the-scenes analysis of breaking news with a focus on the war on terrorism, al Qaeda, Taliban, Osama bin Laden and the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Most recently, she served as the Senior Editor for Middle East affairs across all of CNN's platforms. In this capacity she appeared on CNN shows as an analyst of breaking news and developing stories in the Middle East and how they pertain to the United States and the world.
An early adopter of digital media, Nasr is considered one of the pioneers of bridging the gap between traditional and social media. She played a pivotal role building and running the social media international news gathering strategy at CNN. The peak of her work in this capacity was the Iranian elections of 2009 and their aftermath. She now runs her own company, Bridges Media Consulting. Its main aim is to help businesses employ social networks to enhance their image and deliver their message. She is a lecturer and columnist on Middle East issues. Most recently, she spoke at the Harvard Business School about the importance of social media in the Arab world. At the University of Warsaw in Poland she discussed the similarities between the ongoing uprising in the Middle East with Eastern Europe of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Nasr is the recipient of many awards including: Edward R. Murrow for Continuing Coverage: CNN, Coverage of the Middle East Conflict; the 2006 Lebanon War. Golden Cedar Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Lebanese-American Chamber of Commerce as well as CNN World Report's Achievement Award.
Fadlallah comments and CNN dismissal 
Following the death of Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah on July 4, 2010, Nasr tweeted on the same day that she was "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot..."
Nasr was criticized for this perceived show of sympathy and support for Hezbollah, an organization which the U.S. government designates as a terrorist group, amid claims that her stated position was incompatible with her role at CNN as editor of news on the Middle East.
In response to reactions to her comment, Nasr wrote on July 6 that the tweet was "an error of judgment". She noted Fadlallah "regularly praised the terror attacks that killed Israeli citizens. And as recently as 2008, he said the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust were wildly inflated." She also noted "In 1983, as Fadlallah found his voice as a spiritual leader, Islamic Jihad - soon to morph into Hezbollah - bombed the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 299 American and French peacekeepers."
Nasr concluded her statement by saying that Fadlallah was "revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It's something I deeply regret." A CNN spokesman responded saying that "CNN regrets any offense her Twitter message caused. It did not meet CNN’s editorial standards." The following day, on July 7, CNN fired Nasr. In an internal CNN memo announcing Nasr's departure, CNN International’s senior vice president for newsgathering, Parisa Khosravi, wrote, "We believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward."
Articles and commentaries following Nasr's sacking have been divided. Mediaite's Dan Abrams asked "Can you imagine what would happen to an American journalist expressing admiration for an Al Qaeda leader who had other, better, attributes?" Others expressed concern over what they viewed as similar incidents, most notably Hearst syndicated columnist Helen Thomas retiring under criticism one month earlier.
Those who agreed with CNN's decision stated that it had a right to enforce standards of objectivity in its reporting. Those who supported Nasr felt her firing constituted a new trend in the political climate for journalists and journalism covering politically sensitive issues in general, and the Middle East in particular.
Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote "For people like...Nasr..., an imam like Fadlallah who wants to kill Americans and Israelis but who is unexpectedly nice to women has taken a giant leap forward from the Dark Ages, deserving respect and praise. This attitude is, of course, not only deeply amoral and patronizing nonsense but historically false."
Huffington Post article with title "CNN's Octavia Nasr: Another Victim of America's Thought Police" writes: "Since 9/11 America's redline has conflated terrorism and Israel's security, flattening all difference and particularity. As Stephan Walt and John Mearsheimer pointed out, this has dangerous consequences for both the implementation of policy and the policing of public thought (they were called anti-Semites for this)." While Guardian writes: "Nasr is one of the more high-profile victims of a phenomenon known as "twittercide".", comparing the incident with another controversy surrounding death of Fadlallah, namely a tribute to him which came from the UK ambassador to Beriut. 
Expressing a contrary opinion, Robert Fisk derided CNN and its credibility over the firing, saying "Poor old CNN goes on getting more cowardly by the hour. That's why no one cares about it any more."
Thomas Friedman was also among the many who were troubled by the decision, saying that the decision undermined the network's credibility and sent the wrong signal to young people entering journalism.
See also 
- "CNN drops Middle East editor Octavia Nasr over Twitter comment on Hezbollah cleric". 8 July 2010.
- "CNN senior editor fired for sharing her 'respect' for Hezbollah cleric". Los Angeles Times.[dead link]
- Yaakov Lappin (6 July 2010). "CNN editor sad over ayatollah's death". The Jerusalem Post.
- "Simon Wiesenthal Center Denounces CNN Editor for Mideast Affairs' Remarks". Simon Wiesenthal Center. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- "Apology Demanded Over CNN Fadlallah Comments". American Jewish Committee. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- Octavia Nasr (6 July 2010). "Nasr explains controversial tweet on Lebanese cleric". CNN.
- Brian Stelter (7 July 2010). "CNN Drops Editor After Hezbollah Comments". The New York Times.
- Matea Gold (7 July 2010). "CNN Mideast Affairs editor loses post after tweeting her respect for militant cleric". The Los Angeles Times.
- Bridge, Robert (July 8, 2010). "A Tweet too far: US editor latest victim of Internet Inquisition". Russia Today.
- "Hezbollah denounces sacking of CNN Mideast editor". AFP. July 8, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
- "Hezbollah condemns CNN's editor firing". Tehran, Iran: Press TV. July 9, 2010. Retrieved July 11, 2010.
- Steve Krakauer CNN Was Right; Octavia Nasr Had To Go NPR, 9 July 2010
- Martin Peretz The Firing of Octavia Nasr Is No Tragedy…And No Assault On The Freedom Of The Press Either The New Republic, 23 July 2010
- DePetris, Daniel R. (July 17, 2010). "The Dangerous Future of Journalism in America". Foreign Policy Journal. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- Butterworth, Trevor (July 16, 2010). "When a Tweet becomes a thought crime". CTV News (Canada). Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- David, Ameera (July 16, 2010). "No Freedom of Speech on Middle East?". New America Media. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- Friedman, Thomas L. (July 16, 2010). "Can We Talk?". New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- Boteach, Shmuley Opinion: Why Are So Many Mourning a Terrorist? AolNews, 21 July 2010
- "CNN's Octavia Nasr: Another Victim of America's Thought Police". huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Octavia Nasr fired by CNN over tweet praising late ayatollah". Guardian. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- Fisk, Robert CNN was wrong about Ayatollah Fadlallah The Independent, 10 July 2010
- Friedman, Thomas Can We Talk? The New York Times, 17 July 2010
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