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Outrage over Lebanese TV anchor's comments

Story Highlights

• Anchor refers to anti-Syrian parliament member Ahmad Fatfat as "next"
• Fatfat tells Al-Arabiya he is concerned for his safety, plans to sue NBN
• NBN is owned by Nabih Berry, Lebanon's pro-Syrian parliament speaker
• Station says it has fired anchor and colleague, apologized for "mistake"
From Octavia Nasr
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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- A Lebanese television anchor's comments and laughter regarding the assassination of Lebanese anti-Syrian parliamentarian Walid Eido have caused a furor and resulted in her firing.

The NBN anchor, who has not been identified, did not realize her microphone was on.

"So, why did it take them so long to kill him?" the anchor asked a colleague on live television Wednesday, the same day as Eido's death. She begins laughing, and the colleague joins in. (Listen to the exchange over images of the deadly bombing Video)

Then she says, referring to anti-Syrian parliament member Ahmad Fatfat, "Fatfat should be next. I'm counting them down."

"We don't glee in someone else's misfortune," the colleague replies.

"It's not gloating," the anchor replied, "but we've had enough of them."

NBN is owned by Nabih Berry, a pro-Syrian politician who is speaker of Lebanon's parliament.

In a statement, the station said it had fired the anchor and colleague and apologized for "an unintentional mistake." The statement said, "the comments made do not represent the station in any way."

Leading anti-Syrian Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar wrote a story on the incident without naming the station or anchor. But other media picked up the exchange, which eventually made its way to the Web site YouTube.

Fatfat meanwhile told the Al-Arabiya network he is concerned for his life. He said he had hired an attorney and is prepared to sue the station for comments he interpreted as a direct threat.

Al-Arabiya continued to air the exchange Thursday, followed by interviews with officials representing and defending NBN, saying the firing of the anchor should be enough to quell any outrage her comments caused.

Syria has denied any involvement in Eido's killing.

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An image from Lebanese television shows the aftermath of Wednesday's explosion on Beirut's waterfront.



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