CNN, stung by the suspension of a multi-million advertising contract by the government of Kenya, apologised for portraying Kenya as a ‘hotbed of terror’ ahead of US President Obama’s visit to Nairobi in July.
CNN Global Executive Vice President and MD Tony Maddox flew to Nairobi from Atlanta to personally deliver the apology to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday.
The official apology is seen as a way appeasing Kenyans and the government ahead of the October 10 20th CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards, which will be held in Nairobi. There were fears at the CNN head offices that Kenya might hit back by blocking the event. Also, it would have ironical for CNN itself to hold an event in a country it referred to as a terror hub.
Mr Maddox, who is in charge of CNN’s global editorial policy and manages CNN news content worldwide, admitted that the description of the country was ill-fitting and undeserved.
“We acknowledge there is a widespread feeling that the report annoyed many, which is why we pulled down the report as soon as we noticed,” he said.
WE’RE SORRY, MR PRESIDENT: CNN Global Executive Vice President and MD Tony Maddox when he delivered official apology to President Uhuru yesterday.
“It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to portray Kenya negatively. It is regrettable and we shouldn’t have done it. There is a world at a war with extremists; we know what a hotbed of terror looks like, and Kenya isn’t one.”
Uhuru expressed his deep disappointment at the story on behalf of the government, saying it angered the people of Kenya. He also shared his views on the remark via Twitter hash tag #UhuruTellsCNN.
The president said CNN’s misrepresentation of Kenya was unfortunate and ill-timed, since it came at a critical moment in history, and made a mockery of soldier’s sacrifices.
“In one stroke, CNN’s description of Kenya as a ‘hotbed of terror’ undermined the sacrifices made by our Kenyan troops, and the value of hundreds of lives lost, and relegated them to nothing,” he said. “That’s why Kenyans, as expressed by those on Twitter, were so angry. Kenya is nothing like the countries that have real war. There was no reason to portray Kenya in that way.”
Uhuru reiterated that the war on terror is a global threat that is not exclusive to Kenya. Uhuru noted that while he didn’t expect Kenya to be showered in praise, it remained the duty of a credible press to stick to factual reporting and honest critique.
The CNN report was received with anger by Kenyans on Twitter, prompting a campaign under the hash tag, #SomeoneTellCNN. A previous remark by CNN before the 2013 general election also sparked a counter campaign across social media.
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