Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC correspondent who was playing with a group of Palestinian kids moments before an Israeli attack killed four of them on a Gaza beach yesterday, has been pulled from the region. According to a report by Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept, the network demanded Mohyeldin leave immediately, citing “security concerns,” although it also sent a different correspondent, Richard Engel, to Gaza.
While Mohyeldin has experience covering conflict in Israel — NBC poached him from Al Jazeera for his Middle East coverage — Engel’s accompanying producer has never covered Gaza from the ground and, according to the Intercept, does not speak Arabic.
Following Mohyeldin’s moving firsthand coverage from the beach, which some have seen as anti-Israel, the troubling implications here are obvious.
Mohyeldin, who is Egyptian-American, reported on Wednesday’s civilian tragedy both on-air and on social media with chilling details (“Minutes before they were killed by our hotel, I was kicking a ball with them”), photographs, and footage of the victims’ grieving families.
The network pushed his exclusive access hard, but by the time Nightly News rolled around, Mohyeldin had been swapped for Engel, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent. TV Newser reported last night, “the decision to have Engel report the story for Nightly instead of Mohyeldin angered some NBC News staffers.”
Others have noted that Mohyeldin deleted posts he’d made to Twitter and Facebook critical of the U.S. State Department’s reaction to the attack:
It’s also entirely possible that the network felt Mohyeldin’s objectivity had been compromised after witnessing such tragic violence up close. Or, fearing post-traumatic stress, felt he needed, emotionally, to be extricated from the war zone. But if that’s the case, NBC should say it, rather than broadly claiming “security concerns.”
The network has not responded to a request for comment.