Top Republican demands national security investigation into whether journalists working for CNN, New York Times and Associated Press embedded with Hamas: Tom Cotton writes to DOJ asking if outlets committed federal crimes
Senator Tom Cotton is demanding an investigation into whether US news media embedded reporters with Hamas during the October 7 attack on Israel.
“These individuals almost certainly had advance knowledge of the attack and even participated by accompanying Hamas terrorists during the attack and filming the heinous acts,” Cotton, R-Ark., wrote in a letter to the Department of Justice. Justice Department (DOJ).
“Providing material support or assistance, including financing, to a terrorist organization such as Hamas is a federal crime. The Department of Justice must immediately investigate these four media outlets.”
The Israeli government made the accusation after watchdog group Honest Reporting raised concerns about four freelance photographers from Gaza whose works have been published by CNN, The New York Times, The Associated Press and Reuters.
Among them is Hassan Eslaiah, a photographer now seen in an image being kissed on the cheek by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.
All four media outlets deny any prior knowledge of the Hamas attack and some claim they cut ties with reporters. The New York Times earlier this week slammed Honest Reporting for its “vague insinuations” defending the hired photographer.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers are demanding more information.
Hassan Eslaiah, an AP/CNN photographer, with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in an undated photo
The new suggestion prompted two Israeli politicians to suggest that the journalists be killed.
HonestReporting, which says it is committed to fighting media misinformation about Israel and Zionism, did not specifically accuse the companies of collaborating with Hamas but suggested that the freelance photographers whose work was used by them could have been aware of the attacks.
“Is it conceivable to assume that ‘journalists’ just happened to show up at the border early in the morning, without prior coordination with the terrorists?” HonestReporting wrote about this website Wednesday. “Or were they part of the plan?”
Yousef Masoud, whose work was used by the New York Times and the AP, archived photos of an Israeli tank captured by Hamas 90 minutes after the attack began.
The Israeli government has demanded an explanation from the media, all of which have denied prior knowledge of the attack.
In response to the criticism, a CNN spokesperson told DailyMail.com: “We had no prior knowledge of the October 7 attacks.
“Hassan Eslaiah, a freelance journalist who worked for us and many other media outlets, was not working for the network on October 7.
“As of today, we have severed all ties with him.”
In an earlier statement, the network said it had found no “reason to doubt the journalistic accuracy” of his work.
The New York Times completely denied the allegations.
It had hired photographer Yousef Masoud, whose photos depict violence in Gaza.
“The accusation that anyone at The New York Times had prior knowledge of the Hamas attacks or accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks is untrue and outrageous. It is reckless to make such accusations, which endangers our journalists on the ground in Israel and Gaza. The Times has reported extensively on the October 7 attacks and the war, with fairness, impartiality and an enduring understanding of the complexities of the conflict.
‘Although Yousef was not working for The Times on the day of the attack, he has done important work for us since. There is no evidence to support Honest Reporting’s insinuations. Our review of his work shows that he did what photojournalists always do during major news events: he documented the tragedy as it unfolded,” the paper said.
The Associated Press in its statement denied having any prior knowledge of the attack and insisted that the first photos it received were taken after it began.
‘The first photos that AP received from a freelancer show that they were taken more than an hour after the attacks started.
“There were no AP personnel at the border at the time of the attacks, nor did any AP personnel cross the border at any time.
Eslaiah posted this video on October 7 showing the looting of an Israeli tank
This October 7 photo taken by Ali Mahmud shows Hamas militants transporting the body of Shani Louk. Her body is not depicted, but is located to the side of the men’s feet
Two photos published by Reuters on October 7 were taken near the Gaza border as Hamas’ invasion began.
Honest Reporting notes that photographers Mohammed Fayq Abu Mostafa and Yasser Qudih “coincidentally arrived at the border just in time for the Hamas infiltration.”
Responding to reporters, a Reuters spokesperson said the agency obtained photos on October 7 from photographers with whom it previously had no relationship.
‘The photos published by Reuters were taken two hours after Hamas fired rockets across southern Israel and more than 45 minutes after Israel said armed men had crossed the border. Reuters journalists were not on site at the locations referenced in the HonestReporting article,” the statement said.
‘Have the photojournalists who freelance for other media, such as CNN and The New York Times, informed these media? Judging from the images of the lynching, kidnapping and storming of an Israeli kibbutz, it appears that the line has been crossed not only physically, but also journalistically,” the HonestReporting article said.
In his video front of the attack, Eslaiah appears to be wearing his own clothing and is not recognizable as a member of the media.
Palestinians walk away from the Kibbutz of Kfar Azza, Israel, near the Gaza Strip fence on October 7 in a photo by Eslaiah
The photo taken by Eslaiah was published by the Associated Press on the day the Hamas attack began
One of the other photojournalists mentioned in the report is Yousef Masoud, who has been photographing Hamas fighters in Gaza for years. This photo, taken in December 2022, shows militants posing with weapons
In 2021, it was widely reported that the Associated Press was using the same office space as Hamas in Gaza.
Eslaiah was previously pictured in a loving embrace with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in an undated photo.
Honest Reporting was founded by veteran Israeli journalist Gil Hoffman. The motto is: ‘The public deserves to know.’
“If international news agencies decide to pay for material captured under such problematic circumstances, their standards may be called into question and their audiences deserve to know,” reads part of their report on Eslaiah.
“And if their people on the ground were to actively or passively work with Hamas to take control, they would be called upon to redefine the line between journalism and barbarism.”