NBC decision to drop Ayman Mohyeldin raises questions over Gaza coverage

The decision to suddenly remove Mohyeldin came shortly after the reporter witnessed the killing of four Palestinian boys by Israeli forces

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Ayman Mohyeldin, a journalist for U.S. channel NBC News who was covering the conflict in Gaza, was recently pulled out from the region, with the network citing “security concerns,” raising concerns of bias regarding NBC's coverage of the ongoing violence.

The news channel’s decision to suddenly remove Mohyeldin from Gaza came shortly after the reporter witnessed the killing of four Palestinian boys by Israeli forces, according to Glenn Greenwald, a journalist who originally worked with fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

However, shortly after being pulled out, NBC sent its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer - “who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic,” Greenwald reported - into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault.

Greenwald suggested the move could have been because the reporter's "powerful" coverage of the conflict had angered the pro-Israeli political establishment.

“Over the last two weeks, Mohyeldin’s reporting has been far more balanced and even-handed than the standard pro-Israel coverage that dominates establishment American press coverage… as a result, neocon and ‘pro-Israel’ websites have repeatedly attacked him as a ‘Hamas spokesman’ and spouting ‘pro-Hamas rants,’” he wrote.

David Zurawik, a TV critic for U.S. newspaper the Baltimore Sun, wrote that despite what he saw as the “lack of journalistic backbone at NBC News management,” he would “wait until NBC News clarifies what those ‘security concerns’ were that allegedly warranted Mohyeldin's removal and the insertion of Engel.”

Scott Whitlock, a news analyst at the U.S.-based conservative-aligned organization Media Research Center, wrote that the channel's decision to withdraw Mohyeldin may have also been related to some “derisive” comments made about Israel on the reporter's Facebook page - which were later deleted - one of them being: “The #US State Department Spokesperson just said that #Hamas is ultimately responsible for #Israel shelling and killing 4 boys who were cousins aged 9-11 because Hamas didn't accept the #ceasefire. Discuss among yourselves.”

Greenwald’s report comes after a similar one from U.S.-based news media blog TV Newser, which reported on Wednesday night that staffers inside the network were angered that Engel had been behind the cameras on a news segment on the killing of four children on a Gaza beach, despite the fact that Mohyeldin had actually been at the incident.

NBC News have not yet responded to a request for comment from Al Arabiya News.

Prior to joining NBC, Mohyeldin’s career included two years in the Gaza Strip, being the only American reporter in the region at that time.

Mohyeldin had also been in based in Baghdad from 2003 to 2006, covering the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion.

In 2011, Time Magazine named Mohyeldin as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

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