Octavia Nasr

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Octavia Nasr
اوكتافيا نصر
Born (1966-03-13) March 13, 1966 (age 56)[1]
NationalityUnited States
EducationMA Communication
Occupation(s)Scholar, Yogi, Journalist
Notable creditThe Identity of Yoga: Contemporary Vs. Traditional Yogic Discourse (MA Thesis)

Octavia Nasr (Arabic: اوكتافيا نصر) (born 13 March 1966) is a Lebanese-American Rhetoric scholar and author whose research focuses on Yoga's identity and ethical code and how they apply to journalism and other fields. She is a certified yoga instructor who teaches in the U.S. and India. She was a war correspondent for Lebanon's LBCI in the 1980's. She served in various positions at CNN for twenty years until her departure in 2010 following a controversial Twitter posting related to cleric Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.


Nasr was born and raised in Lebanon in a Christian Maronite family to a Lebanese mother and Palestinian father who was born in Haifa and migrated to Lebanon with his family when he was 8 years old.

Nasr completed her master's degree at Georgia State University in 2022. Her thesis, The Identity of Yoga: Contemporary Vs. Traditional Yogic Discourse[2] investigates yoga's modern postural identity. She links the truncation of yoga's limbs to teacher training curricula as set by the Yoga Alliance in the U.S. She offers a prescriptive curriculum to preserve yoga's traditional identity while building on its modern postural popularity.

She founded Bridges Media Consulting in 2010 after her departure from CNN. In her role as Principal, she helps broadcasters and individuals be more diverse and make the best use of technology and the federated universe.[3][4]

As a certified yoga instructor, she teaches and lectures about yoga in the U.S. and India.[5]

For more than 20 years, Nasr covered major stories involving the Middle East, as an on-air and off-air expert for CNN’s global platforms. Her work at the network started just after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait where she coordinated network coverage of the award-winning Gulf War coverage as part of CNN’s international assignment desk.[6] Nasr won an Overseas Press Club Award in 2002 for CNN's coverage of 9-11 and its aftermath.[7] In 2003, she managed a 15-member Arab desk which coordinated coverage of the Iraq War and was executive producer of CNN's Arab Voices. She received the Edward R. Murrow for Continuing Coverage of the 2006 war in Lebanon.[8]

She is the recipient of the 2006 Excellence in Journalism award from the Lebanese-American Chamber of Commerce and was awarded CNN World Report’s 2003 Achievement Award.

Fadlallah comments controversy[edit]

Following the death of Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah on July 4, 2010, Nasr tweeted, "Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot..."

Nasr fell victim of an astroturfing attack for this perceived show of sympathy and support for Hezbollah amid claims that her stated position was incompatible with her role at CNN as editor of news on the Middle East.[9][10][11]

In response to reactions to her comment, Nasr wrote on July 6 an explanation of what she meant with her tweet.[12]

I used the words "respect" and "sad" because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman's rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of "honor killing." He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam.

Nasr concluded her statement by saying:

Sayyed Fadlallah. 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.[13]

A CNN spokesman responded saying that "CNN regrets any offense her Twitter message caused. It did not meet CNN’s editorial standards."[14] The following day, on July 7, 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."[15]

On the Huffington Post, columnist Magda Abu-Fadil wrote about coordinated online efforts to protest Nasr's comments and push for her dismissal.[16] In a 2012 interview, Nasr noted, "Without an upfront commitment from the employer to stand by and protect employees from astroturfing and negative publicity, my advice to employees is not to use social media on behalf of their employer, period."[17]


Articles and commentaries following Nasr's sacking have been divided. Thomas Friedman was among many who were troubled by the decision, writing in The New York Times that the decision undermined the network's credibility and sent the wrong signal to young people entering journalism. He wrote "I find Nasr's firing troubling." He questioned CNN's reaction by asking, "To begin with, what has gotten into us? One misplaced verb now and within hours you can have a digital lynch mob chasing after you—and your bosses scrambling for cover".[18] Glen Greenwald in Salon.com wrote, "That message spawned an intense fit of protest from Far Right outlets, Thought Crime enforcers, and other neocon precincts, and CNN quickly (and characteristically) capitulated to that pressure by firing her." Greenwald referred to Fadlallah as "one of the Shiite world's most beloved religious figures", highlighting how the world viewed him including many in the west as shown in the Time Magazine's choice of Man of the year 2010 Fond Farewell.[19][20] On the other hand, Mediaite's Dan Abrams asked "Can you imagine what would happen to a U.S. journalist expressing admiration for an Al Qaeda leader who had other, better, attributes?"[21] Others expressed concern over what they viewed as similar incidents, most notably Hearst syndicated columnist Helen Thomas retiring under criticism one month earlier.[22]

Media outlets from around the world protested the firing and faulted CNN for its decision.[23] Stephen Walt of NPR called it "a mistake for CNN."[24] Many wrote in support of Nasr and warned that her firing constituted a new trend in the political climate for journalists and journalism covering politically sensitive issues in general,[25][26] and the Middle East in particular.[27][28] Those who agreed with CNN's decision stated that it had a right to enforce standards of objectivity in its reporting.[29][30] Dr. James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, said, "the very public nature of Nasr’s firing was unwise for a network attempting to build a global audience."[31] Describing Nasr as "often the lone voice of reason" at CNN during Middle East crisis coverage, he warned that her firing sends a message "to Arabs around the world that their viewpoint doesn’t matter."[32]

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."[33] In contrast, Time Person of the Year 2010 recognized Fadlallah and listed him under "Fond Farewells."[34] Author Thanassis Cambanis, who interviewed Fadlallah for his book A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah's Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel, explained that "by the time of his death (of natural causes), Fadlallah had broken with Hizballah and the toxic legacy of his early edicts."[35] The author goes on to explain that Fadlallah "criticized Iran's clerical rule, supported women's rights and insisted on dialogue with the West."[36] Cambanis concluded that "his passing marks a step backward for reform in the combustible world of Islamist militancy."[37]

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 Stephen 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)."[38] While The 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 Beirut.[39]

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."[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Octavia Nasr Facebook account". Facebook. March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Nasr, Octavia (December 14, 2022). "The Identity of Yoga: Contemporary Vs. Traditional Yogic Discourse". Communication Theses.
  3. ^ "https://twitter.com/bridgesmediac". Twitter. Retrieved January 8, 2023. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Octavia Nasr (@OctaviaNasr@mastodon.social)". Mastodon. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  5. ^ "Octavia Nasr - Teacher Profile | Yoga Alliance". www.yogaalliance.org. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  6. ^ "CNN Programs - Anchors/Reporters - Octavia Nasr". www.cnn.com. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  7. ^ "CNN Programs - Anchors/Reporters - Octavia Nasr". CNN. July 21, 2010. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved June 11, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ "CNN Programs - Anchors/Reporters - Octavia Nasr". www.cnn.com. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  9. ^ Yaakov Lappin (July 6, 2010). "CNN editor sad over ayatollah's death". The Jerusalem Post.
  10. ^ "Simon Wiesenthal Center Denounces CNN Editor for Mideast Affairs' Remarks". Simon Wiesenthal Center. July 6, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  11. ^ "Apology Demanded Over CNN Fadlallah Comments". American Jewish Committee. July 6, 2010. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  12. ^ Hart, Peter (July 8, 2010). "What Gets You Fired From CNN". FAIR. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  13. ^ Octavia Nasr (July 6, 2010). "Nasr explains controversial tweet on Lebanese cleric". CNN.
  14. ^ Brian Stelter (July 7, 2010). "CNN Drops Editor After Hezbollah Comments". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Matea Gold (July 7, 2010). "CNN Mideast Affairs editor loses post after tweeting her respect for militant cleric". The Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ "Undaunted, Octavia Nasr Tweets to New Heights". The Huffington Post. July 5, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  17. ^ "Fired over a tweet, Octavia Nasr says journalists need protection from social media flame wars". ijnet.org. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  18. ^ Friedman, Thomas Can We Talk? The New York Times, 17 July 2010
  19. ^ Greenwald, Glenn (July 8, 2010). "Octavia Nasr's firing and what The Liberal Media allows". Salon. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  20. ^ "Ayatollah Fadlalah - Person of the Year 2010 - TIME". web.archive.org. December 19, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  21. ^ "Dan Abrams Takes On Tom Friedman Over Octavia Nasr's Firing". July 19, 2010.
  22. ^ "Hezbollah denounces sacking of CNN Mideast editor". AFP. July 8, 2010. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  23. ^ Hagey, Keach. "CNN's firing of Nasr protested". POLITICO. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  24. ^ "Foreign Policy: Twitter Firing Was a Mistake for CNN". www.hks.harvard.edu. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  25. ^ DePetris, Daniel R. (July 17, 2010). "The Dangerous Future of Journalism in America". Foreign Policy Journal. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  26. ^ Butterworth, Trevor (July 16, 2010). "When a Tweet becomes a thought crime". CTV News. Canada. Archived from the original on July 19, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  27. ^ David, Ameera (July 16, 2010). "No Freedom of Speech on Middle East?". New America Media. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  28. ^ Friedman, Thomas L. (July 16, 2010). "Can We Talk?". New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  29. ^ Steve Krakauer CNN Was Right; Octavia Nasr Had To Go NPR, 9 July 2010
  30. ^ 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
  31. ^ Hagey, Keach. "CNN's firing of Nasr protested". POLITICO. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  32. ^ Hagey, Keach. "CNN's firing of Nasr protested". POLITICO. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  33. ^ Boteach, Shmuley Opinion: Why Are So Many Mourning a Terrorist? AolNews, 21 July 2010
  34. ^ "Ayatollah Fadlalah - Person of the Year 2010 - TIME". web.archive.org. December 19, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  35. ^ "Ayatollah Fadlalah - Person of the Year 2010 - TIME". web.archive.org. December 19, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  36. ^ "Ayatollah Fadlalah - Person of the Year 2010 - TIME". web.archive.org. December 19, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  37. ^ "Ayatollah Fadlalah - Person of the Year 2010 - TIME". web.archive.org. December 19, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  38. ^ Barzegar, Abbas (July 9, 2010). "CNN's Octavia Nasr: Another Victim of America's Thought Police". huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  39. ^ Walker, Peter (July 8, 2010). "Octavia Nasr fired by CNN over tweet praising late ayatollah". Guardian. London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  40. ^ Fisk, Robert CNN was wrong about Ayatollah Fadlallah The Independent, 10 July 2010

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