Diana Buttu had a tough time on CNN yesterday. When the former PLO advisor tried to avoid answering pointed questions about Hamas rocket fire, the interviewer did not give up. “OK. I’m glad you got out your talking points there,” CNN’s Jake Tapper said, before asking about the violence a second time. “Let’s get back to my question. Why is Hamas launching missiles into population centers of Israel? And are any other Palestinians trying to stop them from doing so?”
The hardball interview style might be best suited for discussions with Buttu, who has a history of egregious on-air fabrications. For example, in 2008 and 2009, a time when rockets fired by Palestinians carried between 20 and 40 pounds of explosives, Buttu absurdly insisted during interviews on CNN and Fox News that rockets fired from Gaza “do not have explosive heads.”
At a 2012 conference at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Buttu again asserted that the rockets “don’t have an explosive head.” And she didn’t stop there. “There weren’t any grad rockets fired in 2008 and 2009,” she said. (Dozens were fired.) And she didn’t stop there. “The period of 1996 to 2000 were actually the years that were the most secure years in Israel’s history,” she said. (Dozens of Israelis were murdered by Palestinian suicide bombers.) This was hardly the first time she brazenly repeated this (and other) outrageously false claims. When challenged at the 2012 conference about the murders during those years, she stated that “All of the people you are talking about were settlers.” (Again, false.).
Given Buttu’s long history of brazen contempt for the truth, news organizations should think twice before interviewing her and other propagandists like her, whose disregard for the facts has been well documented. But if journalists insist on interviewing Buttu anyway, they should absolutely be prepared to challenge her lies.