30 April '12..
When reporter Bob Simon interviewed Ambassador Michael Oren, Simon’s outrage — that the ambassador sought to intervene in the 60 Minutes piece on Christians in the Holy Land — was sharp.
Turns out Simon was more theatrical than we realized. BuzzFeed obtained a copy of a letter Simon sent Oren politely inviting Oren to share his views on the status of Christians in the Holy Land — was courteously acknowledged by the ambassador.
“We didn’t realize it would become so controversial,” Simon said in his introduction to the story, which featured an on-air clash between him and Oren. “I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet,” Simon told the ambassador during the segment.
But Simon’s apparent shock — and high dudgeon — at Oren’s conduct were nowhere to be found in a letter he wrote the ambassador before the taping, and which was provided to BuzzFeed by a political operative not party to the dispute who said he shared it because he thought it illustrated CBS doubletalk.
“Fortunately, we are still in the process of reporting the story, so [CBS News Chairman Jeff] Fager and I want to give you an opportunity to express your views and correct any misrepresentations or omissions which you apparently believe might have occurred,” Simon wrote, in a courteous missive on personalized “60 Minutes” letterhead, dated January 4. “Thank you and best wishes.”
Oren responded to Simon on January 11 with an equally courteous letter, saying he was “indeed concerned” about the planned segment and that he would like to “respond to the allegations raised” once he knew what they were.
All this is fairly common in the dance between reporters and sources. It’s not unusual for reporters to seek difficult interviews with innocuous correspondence. Less common is the theatrical outrage Simon expressed on air, but not in the letter, at Oren’s interest in shaping a story about his country.
Despite Simon’s play for the cameras, the real outrage is this: If not for the Oren’s involvement, not one Israeli voice would’ve been represented in 60 Minutes’ hatchet job.
HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams comments:
Bob Simon’s feigned outrage at Ambassador Oren displays a shocking level of cynicism unbecoming of a supposedly credible media figure. Simon’s report on Christians in the Holy Land was despicable enough. That and the underhand way in which he has manipulated Ambassador Oren’s understandable concerns demonstrates a clear antagonism towards Israel and exposes any pretense that Simon was attempting to produce a fair and balanced report.
At the very least, Bob Simon and CBS should apologize and issue a public statement acknowledging their unbalanced and deceitful behavior.
Take action now and demand an apology! Please send your considered comments to CBS and add your voice to the many thousands who have been outraged by Bob Simon’s unbalanced and unholy attack on Israel.
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