Chris Gunness

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Chris Gunness

Christopher Robert Paul Gunness (born 1959) is the chief spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Early life[edit]

Gunness was born in 1959 in what was then the Crown Colony of Trinidad, part of the British West Indies. He was educated in England, initially at Ardingly College, before gaining a scholarship in 1979, to Oxford University. He was a contemporary of Ian Hislop at both institutions.[1]

BBC[edit]

He joined the BBC as a graduate trainee in 1982. During his 23-year career in broadcasting, he covered all the following roles: producer, studio manager, reporter, correspondent and anchor.[2]

UNSCO[edit]

In 2005, Gunness left the BBC to join the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), which was created following the signing of the Oslo Accords. He gained public profile as a member of a high level UN mission mandated by the UN to halt the Lebanon war in July 2006.[3]

UNRWA[edit]

In 2007, he was appointed Spokesman and Director of Strategic Communications at UNRWA, a very high-profile spokesperson position within the United Nations system.

2014 Gaza War[edit]

In 2014, during the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he was interviewed extensively.

Meet the Press[edit]

On July 27, 2014, Gunness was interviewed by David Gregory on Meet the Press,[4] where Gregory played a video on the screen showing what appeared to be a rocket being fired from a school in Gaza. Only the viewers could see the video and not Gunness, who was appearing via satellite from Tel Aviv. Gregory asked “the Israeli government has released video tape within the last hour, it was posted on YouTube. NBC News has not independently verified the Israeli’s claim. I realize you cannot see this video, but our audience can. And I'm going to describe it to you, that purports to show rockets being fired from a UN school. Is this accurate?”[5]

Gunness, unable to see the video while being accused of complicity in the firing of rockets replied, “Look, to be fair to me, to bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven't actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that that's really unfair. I mean, if I can see it, I'll happily comment on it. But can I make the point that we have said that all sides have to respect the inviolability of UN compounds. And that's both side. So if it is what you say it is, we would strongly condemn it. And we're a humanitarian organization. We're not an organization with an army. We have moral force. We have the force of international law. And we have the principles of humanitarianism to protect us. But that's it.”[6]

Gregory then abruptly ended the interview, but towards the end of the program, he revisited the topic with a new statement in an attempt to reverse the perception of bias during the interview. He issued an “endnote to an earlier conversation about Gaza, we asked as you will recall, a UN spokesman about this video, which Israel claims, Israel claims showed rockets being fired by Hamas from a UN school in Gaza. This is shot by the Israeli government, and that's their claim. The UN has reviewed it, tells us that they have confirmed in their view the video does not show rockets being fired from a UN administrative school in Gaza.”[6]

Gregory was widely criticized for his interview tactics during the show.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

Al Jazeera Interview[edit]

On July 30, 2014, immediately following a live TV interview from his office in Jerusalem with al Jazeera discussing the killing of children who died from Israeli shelling while sleeping in the relative safety of a UN school in Gaza, Gunness broke down in tears.[16] The video of the UN spokesperson in tears immediately went viral and was written about extensively.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PressReader.com - Connecting People Through News". www.pressreader.com. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  2. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/crossing_continents/2933337.st,
  3. ^ PRESS CONFERENCE BY MIDDLE EAST MISSION | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases
  4. ^ Full Meet the Press interview with UN relief official Chris Gunness, retrieved 2016-12-30 
  5. ^ "Meet the Press Transcript - July 27, 2014 - NBC News". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  6. ^ a b Meet the Press Transcript - July 27, 2014 - NBC News
  7. ^ "Was David Gregory fired for being "pro-Israel"? | Power Line". www.powerlineblog.com. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  8. ^ "David Gregory called out for journalistic blunder by his guest". EgbertoWillies.com. 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2016-12-30. 
  9. ^ UN official busts David Gregory for using Israeli propaganda video: ‘That’s really unfair’
  10. ^ NBC’s Gregory Issues Correction for Showing Unverified Israeli Video | Mediaite
  11. ^ NBC News David Gregory airs unverified video, gets called 'unfair'
  12. ^ David Gregory Issues ‘End Note’ to Clarify Unverified Video From Gaza | TVNewser
  13. ^ David Gregory Backtracks After Being Corrected On Gaza | HuffPost
  14. ^ http://www.salon.com/2014/07/29/david_gregory_is_really_bad_at_his_job/
  15. ^ Why Firing David Gregory Won’t Change ‘Meet the Press’ | The Nation
  16. ^ UNRWA Christopher Gunness breaks down in tears on live TV after attack on UN school in Gaza - YouTube
  17. ^ UN Official Chris Gunness Breaks Down On Air After School Bombing | HuffPost
  18. ^ Video: UN spokesman breaks down talking about Gaza child deaths - Telegraph
  19. ^ UN's Christopher Gunness breaks down over Gaza conflict live on air | Daily Mail Online
  20. ^ Video Of UN Official Chris Gunness Crying On Air Discussing Gaza School Bombing Will Break Your Heart
  21. ^ U.N. Spokesman Breaks Down Crying on TV Discussing Gaza Attacks | Vanity Fair
  22. ^ A U.N. Spokesperson Just Broke Down While Describing The Killing In Gaza On Al Jazeera
  23. ^ United Nations official Chris Gunness breaks down on live Al-Jazeera TV following the bombing of a school in Gaza | Metro News