By Makonnen Tesfaye London, UK
August 30, 2012
CNNís Erin Burnett - Crass Stupidity of a Wannabe, Arrogance of a White Supremacist, a Cold War Warrior, or Just Another Wall Street Reactionary, or all of the Above?
“All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality, they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are powerful” Mao Tse Tung.
“You shall not bear false witness against….” Luke 3:14
“The best way of learning to be an independent sovereign state is to be an independent sovereign state.” Kwame Nkrumah.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transformation was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the silence of the good people” Martin Luther King, Jr
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi.
CNN’s journalist, Erin Burnett recent outburst, diatribe and shenanigan against Ethiopia and the late Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi are mind boggling in terms of its crass stupidity, arrogance and cruelty. It smacks of the condescension of a white supremacist and the instinctive behaviour of a rapid reactionary class warrior of a Wall Street corporationist kind.
Ms Burnett parachuted into Ethiopia last month and no sooner had she left the airport when she became too judgemental on all things Ethiopian including its leaders, Ethiopian domestic policies and foreign stance, making sweeping statements that are vindictive, invective and void of truth. It is crass journalism of the worst type.
Feeling slighted for being searched by Customs at Bole Airport (who does she think she is?) no sooner had she left the Airport when she began to vent her venomous diatribe on anything , any one that she saw including a cold war diatribe against Chinese business people she saw at the airport and a cabal of falsehood, misinformation , recycled caricature and lies about the late Prime Minster at a time when the Ethiopian People are grieving the loss of their leader and at a time when 80 million Ethiopians have made it abundantly clear that they saw Meles Zenawi as a political and economic liberator, freedom fighter and a great visionary leader of Ethiopia and Africa. Her arrogance is of epic proportion. My short note is not so much to debate in depth with Ms Burnett for she is not in the business of objective journalism, but primarily to share my thoughts with readers about the mind set and motivation of foreign journalists of her ilk who peddle falsehood and hatred against Ethiopia and its progressive leaders.
Ms Burnett’s false and condescending diatribe against Ethiopia and the late Ethiopian Prime mister is not inherently different from her similar derisory, insulting and caricaturing of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in America as ‘”rebels without a cause “ and “hippie hooligans “ true to her American corporationist instinct and background (She is tied to Wall Street financial oligarchy both professionally and matrimonially). She was bemused by the whole point of the Occupy Wall Street movement! She could not see the point of it all! Doesn’t it say it all?
She even claimed incorrectly that American taxpayers profited from the Wall Street Bail Out. The Office of the Special Inspector General for Tarp has published its latest report to Congress. It said: "After three-and-a-half years, the Tarp continues to be an active and significant part of the Government's response to the financial crisis.
"It is a widely held misconception that Tarp will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for Tarp is a loss of $60bn.Taxpayers are still owed $118.5bn.” So much so for Ms Burnett’s ignorance, corporationist, pro Wall Street bias.
Widely criticized by a segment of the American liberal media for her crass journalism and pro Wall Street bias, Ms Burnett seems to relish her notoriety in particular her bashing of what she considers progressive political agenda and progressive leaders whether in America, or Africa.
The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik wrote on Ms Burnett’s report on the Occupy Wall Street protesters as follows:
“Two of the fundamental attributes of good journalism are curiosity and respect for the people on whom you report. Burnett got an “F” on both those counts with her Occupy Wall Street piece. Not only didn’t she listen hard enough to learn anything from the people in the group, she and her producers positioned the speakers to be seen as objects of derision. That is deplorable.” Zurawik continued and said of Ms Burnett “It seems as if she does not get journalism, and she surely doesn’t get America, at least not the one I live in”. Well, if Ms Burnett does not seem to get America how could she get Ethiopia? If she derides and peddles falsehood about the progressive movement in America how could she understand and objectively and truthfully report on the liberation and development agenda of the down trodden people of Ethiopian? Only a false consciousness of a reactionary Wall Street oligarch and a mind-set of a white supremacist can explain her visceral hatred of Ethiopia and the late Prime Minster of Ethiopia.
Glenn Greenwald at Salon explains Ms Burnett’s pro financial oligarchy bias as follows:
“Needless to say Burnett and Kosik consider themselves to be opinion-free, objective “reporters”. Indeed this is what Burnett said in the Vanity Fair interview when asked if she sympathises too much with the Wall Street plutocrats on whom she purports to report.” Mr Glen Greenwald continued his explanation of Ms Burnett’s Wall Street corporationist journalism as “Large corporations which own media outlets, (such as CNN: my insertion) want to hire people to play the role of journalists on the TV who are slavishly devoted to their culture and their agenda. But it is the point: the pretence that these people are “objective journalists” delivering opinion-free facts is so discredited that they should stop pretending. It is embarrassing already. Few things have exposed their deep, embittered biases as much as their snide defensive reaction to the Wall Street Protest”. So much so for the journalism of Ms Burnett.
So readers what to make of Ms Burnett’s and her ilk (such as the BBC’s Martin Plaut and Noel Mwakugu of this world)? Two things come to mind. Firstly, it is undoubtedly clear that such biased and mediocre foreign journalism hurts Ethiopia in some ways. It seeks to perpetuate the negative perception of Ethiopia in some quarters. It’s deliberately unbalanced reporting glosses over Ethiopia’s achievements and progress. It aims to demean its leaders. It purports to undermine the world’s goodwill for Ethiopia. In part whether consciously or not it is motivated to demoralise and stigmatise Ethiopians and indeed Africans. Above all, underneath it is a neo-colonial war of attrition (of all ilks – neo-liberal, liberal-imperialist and post social-imperialist and their African foot soldiers and surrogates) on the progressive liberation and development agenda of Ethiopia. Seen in this light it is imperative that falsehood is rebutted ceaselessly and vigour sly. But perspective is important. The purveyors of doom and gloom are few and far in between. We must not devote undue energy to the detriment of the big picture - Ethiopia’s progress. The vast majority of observers of the Ethiopian scene are friends and supporters of Ethiopia and its true leaders.
Secondly and much more importantly, in the last analysis what matters most is Ethiopian people’s perception of their own progress and challenges as clearly demonstrated by their unprecedented demonstration of love and respect for the late Prime Minster and their unequivocal determination to follow his legacy for democratisation, economic development and regional peaceful and security. Support and, yes, constructive criticism of global good wishers is important but is not decisive. Paradoxically, through his sudden and untimely death the late Prime Minster of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, has cemented once and for all his legacy of an Ethiopia that is independent, united, equal and diverse, just, democratic, peaceful and progressive. The Ethiopian people have stood up again as always! Let us build on this immense social capital. Being focused and not detracted by cynics and naysayers, let’s continue uniting, democratising and building Ethiopia.