International news channel, Cables News Network (CNN) on Thursday apologized to Kenya over a report describing the country as a ‘hotbed of terror’, a report that was published in July ahead of US president Barrack Obama’s trip to Nairobi.
The report suggested the possibility of a terrorist attack during Obama’s visit, and infuriated Kenyans who went to social media and launched an onslaught on the channel through hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN.
The government, through the Kenya Tourism Board, went further to withdraw a multi-million shilling advertising of the country’s tourism products, from the news network, angry that CNN had misrepresented the country’s status.
Tony Maddox, CNN’s global Executive Vice President and Managing Director, who oversees CNN’s global editorial policy, had to fly all the way from Atlanta to Nairobi to personally apologize to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyans.
In a meeting held at state house, Maddox regretted the ‘hotbed of terror’ report and said its publishing was an oversight that was neither intentional nor ill-intended.
“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. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt to portray Kenya negatively, it is regrettable and we shouldn’t have done it,” said Maddox.
“There is a world at a war with extremists; we know what a hotbed of terror looks like, and Kenya isn’t one.”
President Kenyatta asked CNN to be more responsible in future, saying he accepted criticism so long as it was factual, objective and fair.
“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. 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,” Kenyatta said.
“I reiterated that the war on terror was a global threat, not exclusive to Kenya, and that Kenya’s troops and her people have made great sacrifices and still do, to keep Kenya and the region safe,” the president said.