By B. Cohen
The Twitter account of veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy has been shut down, following an angry exchange the presenter held with a group of pro-Israel activists in the wake of the terrorist massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, during which he derided his opponents as the “hasbara team” and used a derogatory term for disabled people.
As The Algemeiner reported last week, 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.)
Clancy further muddied the waters with a follow-up tweet in which he told another user, “Get a grip, junior. It’s my Friday night. You and the Hasbara team need to pick on some cripple on the edge of the herd.”
Clancy’s tweets, including his use of an offensive term to describe people with disabilities, resulted in a flood of complaints to CNN. Jay Ruderman, the head of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community, informed Clancy on Twitter that the word “cripple” is derogatory. The anchor’s response was to block both Ruderman’s personal account and the account of the Ruderman Foundation.
The Foundation subsequently issued a press release in which Jay Ruderman deemed Clancy’s “cripple” remark “appalling,” and questioned how “in this day and age a senior anchor at CNN, a world leader in the media, would use a word such as ‘cripple’, which is a derogatory term for people with disabilities.”
As of Thursday morning, Clancy’s account, which had over 50,000 followers, was no longer visible on Twitter. Neither CNN nor Clancy have explained publicly why the account was apparently deleted.
Jay Ruderman told The Algemeiner that he didn’t think closing down the account was “the right response,” arguing that “social media allows us to have an open dialogue, it’s an important tool that should be used.”
“An organization held in the esteem that CNN is held in should use this as a teaching moment,” Ruderman said, pointing out that when an unnamed White House adviser recently insulted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by describing him as “Aspergery,” Obama Administration officials quickly reached out with an apology for the “unfortunate misuse of language.”
“People are allowed to make mistakes,” Ruderman said. “The best thing is to own up to those mistakes and learn from them.”