PBS' Gwen Ifill may be taking her controversial tweet on the Iran nuclear agreement in stride, but her employer's ombudsman is not amused.
Ifill's tweet referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu represents a "self-inflicted wound," PBS' Michael Getler wrote in a post published Wednesday on the news group's website.
After news broke this week that the Obama administration had secured enough votes to prevent Congress from scuttling the Iran deal, a White House-sponsored Twitter account, @TheIranDeal, tweeted a celebratory message. "With the #IranDeal, Iran's program is significantly less dangerous," the message read.
The tweet also included a bomb graphic similar to the one used in 2012 at the United Nations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With the #IranDeal, Iran's program is significantly less dangerous. This is what that famous drawing looks like now: pic.twitter.com/ZsOy3Il4S7— The Iran Deal (@TheIranDeal) September 2, 2015
Ifill then retweeted the Iran Deal account with a simple message: "Take that, Bibi."
Social media users were quick to criticize the PBS newswoman, with many accusing her of petty and biased behavior. Ifill maintains that she was merely paraphrasing the Iran Deal account, and that her online remarks have been mischaracterized.
"As you may (or may not) have noticed in my subsequent tweet, I was calling attention to what the State Department was doing today," she said in an email to the Washington Free Beacon. "Since I was retweeting a [State Department Spokeswoman] Marie Harf tweet, perhaps that got lost in translation. You know how retweets work, right?"
The original @TheIranDeal tweet makes no mention of Netanyahu, nor is there anything to indicate that Ifill meant to speak in a voice other than her own. Still, Ifill stressed that her tweet was not a dig at Netanyahu and his attempts to stop the president's Iran deal.
"[I]t was not a shot at Prime Minister Netanyahu, even though it has become apparent that, in certain circles, it was taken as one," she told the Beacon. "I was calling attention to what seemed to me to be criticism directed toward him coming from State."
"I am a little surprised that, based on my actual record of covering these issues, that anyone would take it as anything more," she added. "But I have discovered people who want to, can overinterpret [sic] anything, especially on twitter."
Many have been left unimpressed with her explanation, including Getler, PBS' own ombudsman.
"One would have to lean way over backwards to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was simply shedding light on the administration's view of portions of Netanyahu's arguments," he wrote. "But to personalize it by saying, 'Take that, Bibi' is, in my book, inexcusable for an experienced journalist who is the co-anchor of a nightly news program watched by millions of people over the course of any week."
Ifill moderated the 2004 vice presidential debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. Later, in 2008, she moderated the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
"Ifill is a highly experienced journalist, very quick, alert, knowledgeable, and with an engaging on-air personality. She also has a talented eye for the ironies and political turnabouts in the daily flow of news that contributes to her presence," Getler added.
"But PBS and the NewsHour are bigger than any individual and tweeting does not appear to be a tool, in these cases, that is appropriate for maintaining credibility, which is the bedrock for news organizations," he added.