By Richard Murphy
Cable Network News, CNN’s caption for a five minutes flick it produced on the Tuesday October 20, 2020 incident at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, Nigeria read like the title of a fiction and that is exactly what it is. The title is thus more amenable to being forgiven than the actual content of the video, which is a mishmash of footages that is intended to play on the emotion and milk a reaction of condemnation from unsuspecting audiences.
Lekki Toll Gate became symbolic for the still contentious incident in which people protesting against police brutality under the #EndSARS brand were thrown into panic as a result of gunshots, which resulted in pandemonium. Lagos State Government set up a judicial panel of inquiry that is still hard at work trying to unravel what transpired in Lekki. It could be that the CNN video is an attempt to sway the findings of this panel, but it did a bad job of it.
To appreciate the deviousness of this international broadcaster one needs to get some background information that gives an idea of the extent to which it can be trusted. CNN’s only claim to relevance is that the President of its home country, Donald Trump, regularly throws shade at it. The logic by which the TV obtains relevance is thus that “if Donald Trump hates it then it should be liked even when it is grossly unprofessional”.
CNN is that station that created the stereotype of Africa as the continent of horror, persistently depicting the continent as a place of squalor, malnutrition, dictatorships and everything negative. The only exceptions, of course, are the few countries that are able to bribe CNN by way of tourism advertisement that keeps such patronizing countries in the network’s good books for as long as their subscription to that service subsists. Once the payment lapses then CNN begins to see the “ugly side” of that nation. The exception of course is when the war machine or war entrepreneurs have decided that it is time to sell weapons and arms in a particular country – CNN always go for the highest bidder and the war machine pays big. So, it is well known that CNN has unilaterally, with a little support from its aping associates, plunge entire regions into crisis.
We are talking here about an international network that has fallen on hard times and it knows it. In the days when its identity as a warmonger was little known, it had misled its viewers with the hype of breaking news. It was revered as a credible source. But now? The only thing that is broken is CNN itself. It is broken to the extent that it can run three minutes of content consisting mainly of panning over one still picture with other transition effects while its automatons called anchors drone on while relaying information that they barely comprehend not to talk of being able to substantiate.
The active content on its services consists mostly of interest addled talking heads whose only role in life is to defend the interests of blocs that thrive only by making life bitter and unbearable for the 99% of the earth’s population. These are the “experts” CNN bring to its horror show to reel in the already gullible people who are yet to realize that they are being fed a diet of propaganda on steroid.
It is to CNN’s credit however that it somehow realized to the detriment of its audience that by adding a generous dose of curated social media posts to its offering, it is able to create that misleading sense of making its media space democratic. What it does in reality is to create a spiral of silence whereby those aligned with its curated posts – the ones that tallies with the CNN agenda – are emboldened to make more of such vile posts while those who hold contrary views are forced to retreat into silence.
This is precisely what this Criminal Nuisance Network did with the Lekki Toll Gate incident. It created a collage of barely cohesive elements, including embellishment with graphics, to tell a story that is a lie. It miraculously found footages of soldiers leaving their base in Bonny Camp, did a Hollywood cut to their convoy arriving at Lekki Toll Gate, used those graphics to show the soldiers were firing into the air and suddenly realized it preferred them to be shooting into the crowd, and the story goes on.
It is interesting to note how CNN likes to insult African countries. It showed close up of corpses, something it will not try in the western countries where it has operations. The close up of the corpses was not meant to only shock, it is also meant to mislead. By using close-up shots, the picture loses context, what is there to prove that the casualty was in Lekki? The interviews and angry utterances were professionally transitioned to deliver the special effect that the television network wanted. That is good for blockbusters but hardly the stuff that any decent organization should include in its broadcast. CNN gets away with it.
DJ Switch, hardly the right subject to give soundbite in a serious news item had plenty talk time on the CNN flick. This raises question of how much editorial due diligence went into that work. The right checks would have revealed that DJ Switch was representative of the LGBTQ pressure, which implies CNN was deliberately out to question Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act through the backdoor. It should have also been obvious that she doubled as an operative of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a group that has been outlawed as a terrorist organization, one whose leader, Nnmadi Kanu actively coordinated the looting, arson and murder of policemen in the days after the Lekki incident. Again, that is another group to which CNN is beholden simply to rile Nigeria.
It is willing to lie to achieve this purpose and lying is not alien to CNN. History recorded how in September of 2002 it discovered Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein had a cached of Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). Nations went to war, killed Saddam, ruined Iraq and destabilized the entire Middle East and North Africa only to discover there was never one gram of truth in the claim about CNN’s celebrated WMD. It got away because no one was watching, no one tracked back to demand why they were lied to.
That leaves CNN in the business of telling lies and passing them off as special reports. So, in October 2020, it found Lekki massacre, which it is still searching for corpses to prove. This is against Nigeria and Nigerians must exact something to remind CNN that it cannot trample here.
If CNN does not desire peace in Nigeria, as it has demonstrated, then it should not earn revenue from this country. Citizens can begin sending this message by notifying the businesses that run adverts on CNN of their intent to boycott the offending products and services. Banks, Telecom companies and other Nigerian businesses that patronize CNN should be made to take the brunt of this affront so that they can stop funding an entity that is resolute on plunging our nation into crisis.
Murphy is a security expert and columnist writing from Calabar, Nigeria.