Progressive African American journalist fired for pro-Palestine stance

Briahna Joy Gray

Briahna Joy Gray, progressive African American news commentator and lawyer, was unexpectedly fired from her position as co-host on The Hill show “Rising” on June 6.  

Gray served as National Press Secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign and has long been a vocal critic of the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation and ongoing genocide in Gaza. The premise of “Rising” is to have two opposing viewpoints. Gray has a strong track record of being on the correct side of social movements, and for criticizing capitalism and U.S. imperialism more than most bourgeois media pundits.

On June 6, Gray wrote on the X social media platform: “It finally happened. The Hill has fired me. There should be no doubt that @RisingTheHill has a clear pattern of suppressing speech — particularly when it’s critical of the state of Israel.”  

Gray’s post also reflected how the Nexstar Media Group Inc. bosses who own The Hill sent her message without any fair warning, informing her of the termination.

Since the October 7 al-Aqsa Flood, Gray has consistently defended Palestinians and has courageously helped debunk imperialist and Zionist lies about the uprising that day. For instance, anti-imperialist journalist Max Blumenthal and others have helped expose the lack of credibility among those who have made false allegations about Hamas during the al-Aqsa Flood. 

As an example, one of the leading organizations to make claims about what happened on October 7 is ZAKA, an emergency response organization that has a reputation of being untrustworthy and spreading fake information since its inception in the 1990s. 

In 2002, a correspondent with the Israeli Army Radio stated: “ZAKA sends everything: what happened, what they think happened, and what didn’t happen as well. We verify everything, but they fulfill our need to know as quickly as possible…in the past, they sent numerous pieces of news that turned out to be lies.” (mondoweiss.net, Dec. 30).  

Gray, unlike most other journalists in the corporate media, has been willing to call out deliberate lies such as those from ZAKA.

Countering anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism

The Hill’s firing of Gray was in retaliation for an interaction between her and Yarden Gonen, whose sister was allegedly taken hostage during the al-Aqsa Flood. Throughout the interview, Gray calmly and cordially disagreed with Gonen, who was espousing Islamophobic and anti-Arab bigotry, as well as repeating the debunked narratives about Hamas and October 7. 

Gonen went so far as to argue that Arabs and Palestinians residing in the U.S. “pose a threat” and Gray assertively pushed back. Gray followed up by stating: “I hope that Netanyahu agrees, and Israel agrees to the ceasefire deal that could bring all the hostages home, including your sister, home. I am sure the viewers watching are praying for her safety.”  

In a pompous manner, Gonen inappropriately responded, “I really hope that you specifically will believe women when they say they got hurt,” as a jab at Gray. (The Hill/Rising, June 5). The asinine statement from Gomen visibly annoyed Gray, who was accused by her employer of “rolling her eyes.” Gray kept her cool and responded by simply saying: “Okay, thanks for joining. Stick around.”

Gray’s firing led to support from other progressive journalists on social media, such as Krystal Ball, who wrote: “Yet another person fired for daring to support Palestinian humanity. I have no doubt Briahna will continue to find great success outside of corporate media but these attempts to silence pro-Palestine voices are meant to intimidate those who don’t have Brie’s fortitude and ability to withstand the attacks.” (DailyMail.com, June 7)

Pro-Zionist bigots, on the other hand, were celebratory over Gray’s termination. U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) disgracefully wrote: “I have as much sympathy for Briahna Joy Gray as she has for the hostages. None.” (DailyMail.com, June 7) 

Matthew Nouriel, the pro-Israeli Iranian dissident, wrote, “Briahna Joy Gray encapsulates everything wrong with the American left — a lack of knowledge coupled with over confidence.” (DailyMail.com, June 7)  

Nouriel claims to be an “advocate” of LGBTQIA+ liberation, but he has remained silent regarding the current right-wing Israeli government’s violent hostility towards queer Palestinians and Israelis since coming to power in November 2022.

Other commentators fired from corporate press

Briahna Joy Gray is not the first media commentator to be fired for exposing the truth about Palestine. In her June 6 announcement on X (formerly Twitter), Gray also referenced the termination of her former colleague Katie Halper, who was fired from The Hill in October 2022. Halper is Jewish, and, like Gray, she was known for often countering pro-Zionist perspectives with facts about Palestine on “Rising.”

Halper delivered op-ed monologues known as “Radars.” In one segment, Halper defended Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib — the only Palestinian representative in the U.S. Congress — who was under vicious attack from other U.S. politicians and spokespeople. In that same segment, Halper also correctly labeled Israel’s policies as “apartheid.” (Daily Beast, Oct. 4). Halper’s commentary was too much for the same pro-Zionist Nexstar Media Inc. bosses who fired Gray two years later.

In 2018, CNN fired one of its top contributors, Marc Lamont Hill, the day after he gave a speech about Palestine at the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Hill, an African American professor at Temple University at the time, stated in his U.N. speech, “We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.” (NBC, Nov. 30, 2018). 

There is a double standard in the way the bourgeois media treats commentators who are nationally oppressed versus those from privileged backgrounds. CNN arbitrarily fired Hill, even though the outlet claims to be “liberal” in their outlook of political issues. 

CNN also spent several years peddling lies and imperialist propaganda about Russia, and they never fired any of the pundits for making baseless claims and unsubstantiated anti-Russia statements.

The Hill hired Gray and Halper to offer opposing viewpoints with their co-hosts. The point of “Rising” is supposedly to provide a balance of political perspectives. The producers, however, have not terminated anyone for espousing right-wing or pro-imperialist opinions.  

The firing of Briahna Joy Gray is a racist, sexist and pro-Zionist attack that must be condemned!  

 

Otis Grotewohl

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Otis Grotewohl

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