Imagine if you will the media reaction that would take place if Fox News employed even for a single day a contributor that offered praise on social media for Adolf Hitler. Now imagine they kept the person on even after seven years of such messages. CNN finally cut Pakistani contributor Adeel Raja loose after his latest such missive went out during the latest Israel-Hamas war:
The Islamabad-based journalist on Sunday tweeted that “the world today needs a Hitler,” and quickly removed the post when it sparked backlash.
He has previously declared his support for the German national football team because of “what Hitler did with Jews.”
“The only reason I am supporting Germany in the finals is – Hitler was a German and he did good with those jews!” Raja posted ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Argentina.
In a separate post around that time, Raja also said: “My support for Germany is due to what Hitler did with Jews!”
After yesterday’s tweet, CNN insisted that he’d never been an “employee,” but declared that they would no longer feature his work. That’s a good move now, but it hardly addresses the question of why Raja’s tweets got ignored for the previous seven years:
Horrifying tweets by CNN freelancer @adeelraja!
“As a freelancer, his reporting contributed to some newsgathering efforts from Islamabad. However, in light of these abhorrent statements, he will not be working with CNN again in any capacity.” pic.twitter.com/CfxQrSKyqY
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) May 17, 2021
And lest it be overlooked, Raja had worked with CNN even before his first anti-Semitic tweets went out:
The freelancer presented himself as a CNN contributor and had a byline on the network’s website as recently as September last year. His first CNN byline is dated January 2, 2014—several months before his anti-Semitic tweets during the Fifa World Cup.
We live in an era where reporters dig up social-media content from American Idol contestants from their preteen years to discredit them as racists. In fact, CNN was one of the media outlets to chase Caleb Kennedy out of the ABC program over a video taken when Kennedy was twelve years old, sitting next to a person with “a Ku Klux Klan-style hood.” At the same time, are we to believe that CNN never bothered to check the social-media output of its own contributor?
If that had been Fox News, CNN and every other national media outlet would have been all over it long before seven years had passed. Heck, they’re all over American Idol, for crying out loud.
As for Raja, he’s not backing away from his Hitler promotion. He claims that this is now a free-speech issue:
— Adeel Raja (@adeelraja) May 17, 2021
This is, of course, nonsense — especially coming from a reporter in Pakistan. No one is applying prior restraint to Raja’s speech, and CNN is a commercial entity rather than a governmental agency. Raja is free to espouse his love of Adolf Hitler, and his employers are then free to determine whether paying him is worth the headache Raja presents as a raging anti-Semite. Free speech does not mean consequence-free, as Raja is now learning the hard way, especially when one works for a global media conglomerate. There is no right to publication, only a right to speak freely … and the right of the market to determine what value to put on the speaker.
Here’s a better question: why is Twitter allowing this blue-check anti-Semite to maintain his account? They banned American blue-checks for much less, especially over the issue of hate speech, and cheering the Holocaust certainly qualifies as such. I’m no fan of Twitter’s speech-code enforcement, but like CNN, Raja points out their shifting standards on such matters.