Our attention has been drawn to a November 26, 2020 tweet by CNN purportedly clarifying an October 23 tweet issued by the media organisation. The initial tweet read in part: “At least 38 people were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters.”
For CNN to come out more than a month later to issue a “clarification” claiming that the original tweet “did not make it clear that the death toll was for protests across the country” is grossly disingenuous and disappointing, and further evidence of our argument that CNN has been less than ethical and professional in covering and reporting the ENDSARS protests in Nigeria.
For a supposedly respectable news organisation like CNN to think such a terse and unapologetic “clarification” is enough, is frankly disturbing.
It is also not in keeping with CNN’s standard practice when it makes editorial and reportorial errors in the course of its work. In August 2019, CNN tendered an unreserved apology for an “erroneous” headline on its website by its Hong Kong Bureau regarding the protests in Hong Kong.
Prior to that, in June 2017, CNN was compelled to retract and apologize a story on its website that falsely reported regarding a former US Presidential aide. CNN also went ahead, following that widely reported embarrassment, to implement new guidelines on its coverage of Russia.
There is no doubt that, following the false tweet on October 23 by CNN, there was a deterioration of the security situation in Nigeria. The country was pushed deeper into anarchy, carnage and lawlessness, forcing one to wonder whether the global news giant has a vested interest in precipitating the destabilization of Nigeria with its unverified, irresponsible and sensational reporting of events.
Following its poor reporting on the protests in Nigeria, CNN should at the very least offer a full and unreserved apology for, and retraction of, the misleading reporting encapsulated in the October 23, 2020 tweet. A mere clarification will not suffice.
We would also like to recommend that CNN go ahead to institute stricter journalistic guidelines regarding its coverage of the ENDSARS protests in Nigeria. For example, these new guidelines should endeavour to embed in CNN’s subsequent reporting an acknowledgement of the fact that 37 Nigerian police officers and 6 soldiers were murdered by mobs of violent protesters across the country during and in the immediate aftermath of the ENDSARS protests.
CNN’s deliberate omission of these incontestable facts, combined with its insistence on stubbornly amplifying a host of unverified and indefensible narratives, truly give cause for concern to all who understand the significance of the narrative-shaping role of credible journalism in the 21st century. This role is one that must always be fulfilled with the utmost sense of respect for truth, fairness and objectivity, and CNN and its journalism cannot afford to be an exception in any guise.
Rotimi Ogunwuyi Esq
27th Nov. 2020.