Coverage of the turmoil in Ukraine got tense last night on CNN, as Christiane Amanpour berated host Wolf Blitzer at the end of a segment for informing viewers of what the Russian take on the new Ukrainian government is.
Amanpour warned Blitzer, in the name of the network, to be “really careful” about providing Russian narrative as fact – which Blitzer, apparently, wasn’t doing.
That information was the claim that the majority of the anti-Russia right wing movement in Ukraine was anti-Semitic. It has been a common claim of pro-Putin activists and the stance that NYU Professor Stephen Cohen took on the program opposite Amanpour that night, but Amanpour appeared to misunderstand Blitzer as agreeing with Cohen.
After a lengthy discussion in which Cohen denied that Putin was a “thug” or “is trying to recreate the Soviet Union,” Amanpour appeared exhausted of Cohen’s passionate support of Putin. Cohen went as far as to call Putin “the most consequential leader of the early twenty-first century” and claim that the “extremism” in the Ukrainian situation resulted from a “small but resolute” group of “crazy fascists” who had installed an “illegitimate” government.
Amanpour appeared peeved for most of the segment, denying to Cohen that there was any evidence that the Ukrainian revolution was based entirely around a small cabal of fascists. Amanpour insisted that “the state Russian media is very bad” on the fascist accusations at the moment and that, while the protection of ethnic minorities in Ukraine was pivotal, there was no evidence they were under threat to the extent that Russian agitators are alleging.
Toward the end of the conversation, Amanpour suddenly shifted her outrage from Cohen to Blitzer. Blitzer ended the segment by noting that Amanpour was correct to note that Russian state officials were being very rigid in promoting the same talking points, citing the argument before the Security Council by Russia’s representative this week in which he claimed that the new Ukrainian government was led by “ultrafascists” and “anti-Semites.” Amanpour then proceeded to scold him for agreeing with Russia.
“You know, youve got to be really careful putting that across as a fact,” she replied to a baffled Blitzer, asking, “Are you saying that the entire pro-European Ukrainian [sic] are anti-Semites?” Blitzer replied matter-of-factly that he was “just pointing out that a Russian official today was saying that,” but that did not appear enough for Amanpour, who appeared outraged on behalf of the network. She never quite seemed to understand that Blitzer was not only providing factual information but doing so in a way that corroborated Amanpour’s point.
The bizarre segment concludes with Amanpour calling for more responsible journalism “as a network” and making the implication that CNN must remain objective on the issue, despite Amanpour’s extensive track record of subjectivity on very sensitive human rights topics, from promoting the agenda of Cuban dictator Raúl Castro’s daughter to wishing Zimbabwe’s lifelong strongman dictator Robert Mugabe a happy birthday.
Watch the strange exchange via CNN below: