Veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy has become embroiled in a row with pro-Israel activists on social media, following an angry Twitter exchange in the wake of the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which the presenter derided his opponents as the “hasbara team” and used a derogatory term for disabled people.
As media watchdog Honest Reporting noted, the exchange began with Clancy issuing a bizarre defense of the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed published by a Danish newspaper in 2005 and by Charlie Hebdo in 2011, which led to violent protests in both western capitals and throughout the Islamic world. “The cartoons NEVER mocked the Prophet. They mocked how the COWARDS tried to distort his word. Pay attention,” Clancy wrote.
When Oren Kessler of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) responded that Clancy’s claim was “absolutely untrue,” because Charlie Hebdo had been previously targeted for publishing an issue in which the Prophet Muhammed was listed as a “guest editor,” Clancy – whose obsession with Israeli settlement policy is well-known among CNN viewers – responded with the word, “Hasbara?” (“Hasbara,” the Hebrew word for “explaining,” is often invoked by Israel’s opponents to dismiss views with which they disagree, even when, as in this case, the matter at hand has nothing to do with Israel.)
As other Twitter users joined the fray, Clancy went on to accuse both the pro-Israel blog Elder of Ziyon and the openly anti-Semitic “Jews Making News” Twitter feed of being part of an anti-Muslim and pro-Israel PR campaign. As Honest Reporting pointed out, “what does it say about Clancy’s state of mind that he cannot distinguish between a genuine pro-Israel blog site and another that expressly promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories?”
When another Twitter user told Clancy that no pro-Israel voices had articulated the positions he was erroneously ascribing to them, the anchor launched into a tirade. “Get a grip, junior. It’s my Friday night,” he replied. “You and the Hasbara team need to pick on some cripple on the edge of the herd.”
While it is unclear what Clancy’s last sentence was intended to mean, his use of the word “cripple” in insulting fashion didn’t escape the notice of disability rights advocates. Jay Ruderman, the head of the Ruderman Family Foundation, an organization closely involved with disability issues, tweeted: “Cripple is derogatory term @clancycnn: ‘You and the Hasbara team need to pick on some cripple on the edge of the herd.'”
Requests to CNN’s media team for comment were unanswered by press time.