Italian journalist Michele Monni was fired this week for dishonesty: specifically for claiming that he was working for the Italian ANSA news agency when he was really working for the terror organization Hezbollah.
Last month HonestReporting wrote about the incident:
Monni was among the various reporters working on documentaries in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. (That was the conflict triggered by Hezbollah’s kidnapping of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser).
As part of his documentary, Monni interviewed ex-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, ex-defense minister Amir Peretz and two former soldiers about their memories of the abduction and subsequent 2006 conflict.
After Monni conducted these seemingly ordinary interviews, something strange happened. As broken by Ynet, Monni’s work was aired, not by Italian television, but by al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese TV station aligned with Hezbollah.
Al-Mayadeen is known in the Arab world as part of the “axis of opposition” media, which includes Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station. This Shiite media axis staunchly supports Bashar Assad and Iran, and also prides itself on countering Al-Jazeera’s Sunni-leaning agenda.
None of the Israelis would have agreed to be interviewed by Monni had they known they would be appearing in a Hezbollah mouthpiece’s “documentary.” Asked how his work wound up in al-Mayadeen’s hands, Monni gave contradictory explanations (more on that below).
(Al-Mayadeen’s full documentary is on YouTube. The overall narration is in Arabic; interviews with Israelis, and sections featuring news footage of Americans, are in Hebrew and English, respectively.)
What happened next?
Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) launched a formal investigation into this matter, including whether Italian journalist Monni and the ANSA News Agency colluded with Hezbollah or engaged in fraud and misrepresentation. In addition to saying that he was working for ANSA, Monni also said that he was working for Al Jazeera. Yet both news agencies denied to the GPO that they were involved in any way.
Finally, this week the Italian ANSA news agency apologized to Israel and terminated Michele Monni’s contract for his dishonest conduct in this affair.
ANSA released the following statement,
ANSA never gave freelance journalist Michele Monni any assignment to interview any of the people interviewed for the piece on the events from 2006. Monni never told ANSA that he was doing these interviews. Moreover, ANSA has never published any interviews conducted by Monni regarding those events.
HonestReporting’s Managing Editor Simon Plosker adds:
ANSA’s termination of Michele Monni’s contract is the only acceptable outcome in this case. Monni not only carried out a shocking deception but collaborated openly with a terrorist organization. No reputable media outlet should even consider hiring him in future.