NBC News has been mostly silent since it pulled reporter Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza earlier this week, but criticism of the decision has only gotten louder.
Mohyeldin, the network’s widely respected foreign correspondent, was a first-hand witness to the Israeli attack on Wednesday that killed four young boys who were playing soccer on a beach in Gaza.
On Twitter, Mohyeldin’s powerful descriptions of the tragedy went viral. In one tweet, he recounted that he was “kicking a ball” with the victims moments before the strike.
4 Palestinian kids killed in a single Israeli airstrike. Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them #gaza
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 16, 2014
But Mohyeldin’s Twitter feed has been inactive since Wednesday and, although he provided his eyewitness account that morning on the “Today” show, he was conspicuously absent from that evening’s broadcast of “NBC Nightly News.”
Instead, it was NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel who reported on the Gaza attack from his location in Tel Aviv, a decision that reportedly left some staffers miffed.
The next day, Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept reported that NBC executives cited “security concerns” that had motivated the decision. A source also told the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone that executives were motivated by those concerns.
But speculation — and suspicion — surrounding the decision has been rampant. Journalist Rania Khalek noted Thursday that a pair of Mohyeldin’s social media posts on the State Department blaming Hamas for the Gaza attack were deleted.
The network source, however, told Calderone that the deleted posts were not a factor in the decision.
It was one of two controversies this week surrounding a news outlet’s decision to remove a reporter from coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
CNN correspondent Diana Magnay was re-assigned to Moscow after she referred to a group of Israelis who cheered the bombing of Gaza on Thursday as “scum.”