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Foreign Correspondence

CNN’s Nic Robertson Pivots From Kenya Mall Shooting to New Jersey Mall Shooting

A strange twist of events for CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, who covered the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi: on his first day of a month-long reporting rotation in the U.S., he was assigned to cover another mall shooting, at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey. Robertson was live outside the mall last night.

On “New Day” today, he filed a report on the New Jersey mall shooting, right on the heels of Monday’s report on the hunt for the leader of Al-Shabaab, the group behind the Nairobi mall attack.

Watch both reports below:

‘We Are Not Partisan, Nor Are We the Iranian Version of Fox News’

Amanpour-and-Iran-Pres-RouhaniA big week in U.S.-Iranian relations comes to an close with news that the presidents of both nations had their first direct contact in 34 years. Midway through his visit to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani also spent time meeting the American press. Then there was the dust-up about what he did — or didn’t — say to CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency disputed some of CNN’s translation.

CNN gave us their side yesterday. Today the New York Times’, Thomas Erdbrink got an explanation from the Fars point of view. He talked with Mostafa Afzalzadeh, who formerly worked with the agency.

Fars reporters said they were just trying to correct CNN’s mistranslation of the Iranian president during the interview. “Journalists are there to correct mistakes,” said Mostafa Afzalzadeh, who formerly worked for the agency. “If Mrs. Amanpour is ready to say that this was her translator’s fault and not hers, we will gladly publish that on Fars.”

Iran’s hard-liners have no patience with Ms. Amanpour, who is British-Iranian and, in their minds, deeply biased against the country. But Mr. Afzalzadeh denied those feelings had anything to do with the agency’s coverage.

“We are not partisan, nor are we the Iranian version of Fox News,” he said in an interview. “We are just doing our journalistic duty.”

For CNN Correspondent, Nairobi Attack Hits Close To Home

For CNN International correspondent Zain Verjee, the terrorist attack at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya hit very close to home. Literally. Verjee grew up not far from the mall, and still lives nearby, as she shared today.

“This is where we have coffee, this is where I meet my friends, this is where I socialize, this is where diplomats, expats everybody goes to shop,” Verjee said. “Every Saturday morning we go to buy groceries, as hundreds of people did that Saturday morning.”

WATCH:

Every network and cable channel has correspondents in Nairobi, following up on the latest from the hostile mall takeover by terrorists over the weekend. Among them: NBC’s Ron Allen, CBS’ Charlie D’Agata, ABC’s Linsey Davis and Kirit Radia and CNN’s Verjee, Nima Elbagir and Arwa Damon.

Should the U.S. Media Give Equal Time to the Syrian Opposition?

In the last 10 days Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad has been given two hours on U.S. television networks. An hour on PBS (with clips on CBS) last Monday and tonight, an hour on Fox News. Following the FNC interview, the network’s State Department correspondent James Rosen said equal time might be in order for the Syrian opposition. Rosen was a part of the “Special Report” panel analyzing the Assad interview conducted by Dennis Kucinich and Greg Palkot.

“I predict that you may see calls from viewers, from critics, et cetera, for us to give a like amount of air time to the Syrian opposition,” said Rosen. “It may be seen as incumbent on us to make sure that the Syrian opposition is heard. If not an equal measure, in some kind of measure.”

“We will talk to the second floor in New York about that,” said Baier, referring to the executive offices of Fox News.

What do you think? Should the U.S. networks set aside an hour of time for an opposition interview?

As for tonight’s interview, Charles Krauthammer had this assessment: “[Assad] spoke for almost an hour. There wasn’t a true word he said including ‘and’ and ‘but.’”

As we reported earlier, Kucinich, an FNC contributor got the interview, but Fox executives only agreed to do it if a Fox News journalist participated.

Ann Curry Scoops Christiane Amanpour in Interview with Iranian President

NBC’s anchor-at-large Ann Curry is in Tehran at this hour, where she got the first U.S. interview with newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. CNN has already been promoting an interview Christiane Amanpour will get with Rouhani when he travels to New York later this month for the annual gathering at the U.N. Curry’s interview, conducted at the presidential compound a few hours ago, will begin airing tonight on “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.” The conversation touches on the crisis in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, and Rouhani’s recent communication with President Obama.

Jim Sciutto On His Return to Reporting: ‘I Think I’m More Fearless, Because I Know More’

With foreign affairs continuing to dominate headlines in September, these are heady days for reporters who thrive on covering global policy matters. Count among them Jim Sciutto, who returned to TV news last week as CNN’s Chief National Security Correspondent.

“Not a bad day to start, in the middle of a debate about military attacks on Syria,” Sciutto tells TVNewser, reflecting on his first day on air for his new employer.

Sciutto stepped away from television for nearly two years. In late 2011, he left longtime home ABC News to work abroad as chief of staff and senior adviser to U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke.

Beijing was a good fit, Sciutto says, given his longtime fascination with the country. He majored in Chinese history at Yale, and is proficient in Mandarin.

The job was meaningful as well, he explains, because “I’d long had a dream of doing public service, and I’m glad I did it.”  The diplomatic role, he stresses, is distinct from having worked in a political position or having taken a lucrative government-related consulting gig.

Still, Sciutto’s journalism homecoming prompted a difference-of-opinion debate on Twitter just last night.

“Turns out, it was a waste of US taxpayer $$ to move @jimsciuttoCNN to China to work for Obama. He didn’t stay long & now ‘reports’ for CNN,” tweeted media critic and Fox News contributor Richard Grenell.

Sciutto responded with a tweet of his own, inviting Grenell to “watch my reporting” and that ”my record stands.”

In an interview earlier this week, Sciutto told TVNewser he wouldn’t think twice about tough coverage of the administration’s handling of foreign policy. “I think I’m more fearless because I know more. I got a real education in so many of the national security issues, and foreign policy issues. It makes your questions smarter, and your stories smarter.”

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Al Jazeera Kicked Out Of Egypt, Was Spied On By NSA

It has not been a good week for Al Jazeera, the Qatar-backed international TV news organization.

German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that the NSA spied on internal Al Jazeera communications, according to documents obtained by Edward Snowden. Al Jazeera would be the first news organization that the NSA has been confirmed to be spying on.

Meanwhile, a handful of Al Jazeera journalists that were detained last week were freed by Egyptian authorities… but they were promptly deported from the country. The AP reports that correspondent Wayne Hay, camera operator Adil Bradlow and producer Russ Finn were deported for “working in Egypt without a permit or license to use satellite transmitters.”

Hay, a freelance journalist based in Thailand, is traveling back to his native New Zealand to rest.

Also an Egyptian court ordered that Al Jazeera’s Egyptian affiliate, along with three other channels, should be shut down for posing “a threat to national security.”

Pres. Obama: ‘I Have Decided the U.S. Should Take Military Action,’ But Will Seek Congressional Authorization First

In the Rose Garden this afternoon, President Obama said he has decided the United States “should take military action” against Syria, but he said he will wait for an authorization from the out-of-session Congress first.

The Saturday statement, during the long Labor Day holiday sent the news networks into high gear. Wolf Blitzer anchored coverage on CNN, Bret Baier was in for Fox News, Alex Witt anchored on MSNBC and  Richelle Carey anchored on Al Jazeera America. All had their White House and Pentagon correspondents as well as military analysts dialed in for coverage which began before 1pm. CNBC and FBN also carried the statement. The president’s remarks were supposed to have begun at 1:15. He was delayed about 35 minutes.

On the broadcast networks, George Stephanopoulos anchored on ABC along with Terry Moran and Martha Raddatz. On CBS, Jim Axelrod anchored with Major Garrett at the White House and Elizabeth Palmer in Damascus. She is one of the few Western TV journalists in Syria right now. NBC aired two reports during coverage of the English Premiere League. The first anchored by David Gregory at 1:27 previewed with reports form Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and Richard Engel. Gregory broke in again when the president spoke, then quickly returned to soccer following the statement.

CNN reports that Syrian State Television also carried the President’s remarks live.

One member of the press shouted a question as the president departed: “Will you forgo a strike if congress disapproves?” There was no answer.

ABC, CBS, NBC Break In with Pres. Obama Comments on Syria

With cameras clicking and flashbulbs popping, and with the leaders of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia on either side of him, Pres. Obama spoke about the situation in Syria. Obama’s remarks were recorded by the pool and fed out around 2:45pmET. They followed Secy. of State John Kerry‘s remarks earlier with results from an unclassified U.S. investigation into a chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. The president:

“We are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world, understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban. Again, I repeat, we’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots on the ground approach.”

Scott Pelley anchored a special report on CBS along with Pentagon correspondent David MartinDavid Muir anchored on ABC along with Martha Raddatz. And on NBC Lester Holt along with Andrea Mitchell reported on the President’s remarks. Christiane Amanpour who splits time on CNN and ABC, was part of the special report on CNN.

Network Correspondents Converge On Syria And Surrounding Countries

All eyes are turning to Syria, as escalated rhetoric suggests that a U.S. attack could be imminent. Unlike Iraq, which saw correspondents reporting while embedded with U.S. troops or from the balcony of their hotels, it is not nearly as clear whether U.S. networks will have the same presence in Syria.

It seems as though the situation is fluid for pretty much every network, so things will likely change before any potential U.S. action. That said, some outlets have people in place inside Syria, while others are working on it. Interestingly, two U.S. networks (NBC and ABC) are relying on UK correspondents for reports out of Damascus.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer arrived recently in Damascus (see photo to above), and is expected to be there for some time. She reported for the “CBS Evening News” and “CBS This Morning.” NBC News’ Richard Engel reported from Syria earlier this week, and is currently on the Turkey/Syria border. ITN’s Bill Neely is in Damascus (NBC and ITN share some content and correspondents), and has been reporting there for NBC, and Ayman Mohyeldin is reporting from Beirut. ABC News has chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran and Middle East correspondent Alexander Marquardt reporting from Beruit, Lebanon, Muhammad Lila from Antakaya, Turkey, Matt Gutman from the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Molly Hunter from Jerusalem and the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen contributing to ABC News coverage from Damascus.

On cable news:

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