During a YouTube binge a few months ago, my brother and I came across a Saturday Night Live cold open — a parody of a CNN interview. In the sketch, the news anchor is discussing Donald Trump with “Trump Defender” Scottie Nell Hughes. Hughes is the ultimate Trump apologist — she has an answer ready for anything, each of which is more absurd than the last. Presented with a live video of “Trump” punching someone at a rally, Scottie says it’s “obviously” because the man being assaulted had a bee on his face. Later, she goes on to extol the virtues of Trump’s trade policy, saying that he will “make American grapes again.” And though she is faced again and again with increasingly ridiculous shenanigans to defend, Hughes says resolutely, “You can’t break me, Kate. I’m crazy, and crazy don’t break.”
I thought of this parody of Scottie Nell Hughes last week as I watched British MEP Daniel Hannan thoroughly embarrass CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour during a discussion over the recent Brexit vote. During the interview, Amanpour accuses Hannan of backtracking from a position she is unable to identify, while he systematically destroys every misguided point she tries to make. Her forced laughter and pleading looks to off-screen producers only add to the experience — the video is painful. Appropriately, conservative media outlets mocked Amanpour mercilessly — to the extent that she felt it was necessary to defend herself on CNN’s website, in a piece titled “Brexit: Truth, Myth, and Media ‘Neutrality.’”
But while the Hannan interview may be setting off the alarms on observers’ craziness detectors for the first time, a look backward shows that Amanpour has been playing the same tired tune since she first entered the media scene.
Amanpour began her career at CNN during the late 1980s and early ’90s, carving out her niche by reporting on conflicts such as the Gulf and Bosnian wars. She was sold as a straight-shooting, tough-as-nails reporter able to communicate the facts from dangerous conflict zones. But like much of what CNN tries to sell, this proved to be inaccurate: In the wake of an emotional statement about Bosnian Muslims during the height of the war, Amanpour was criticized for abandoning the facts in favor of editorializing, something she hasn’t denied. “There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral, you are an accomplice.”
Which shows that the Hannan-Brexit interview debacle is only the latest example of Amanpour’s aversion to journalistic standards. Throughout her 30-year career, she has created a vibrant mosaic of absurdity, with each tile representing a time she has eschewed neutrality for hackery. It is one thing to be woefully unprepared for what you obviously hoped to be a “gotcha!” interview, but quite another to ask Tony Blair if he feels responsible for the San Bernardino shooting because of the British intervention in Iraq. And one month later, in a desperate attempt to claw up to the moral high ground where leftists think they reign supreme, Amanpour left both her sensibility and dictionary behind when she called the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo “activists.” She also regularly embraces the typical, tired liberal clichés: cries of racism, xenophobia, and extremism are her go-to strategies whenever she is confronted with a person, idea, or piece of news she doesn’t particularly like. Republicans are waging a “war on Muslims.” The Israeli government is full of “racists.” Brexit is a triumph of “white identity” and “xenophobia.”
I would call Hillary Clinton for tech support before I would rely on Amanpour for an objective view of the world.
But even among leftist hacks, Amanpour is a special case: It’s almost as if she’s trying to mock herself — a Trump-is-a-Clinton-plant conspiracy theory, if you will, but in the mainstream media. She referred to devout Christianity as “totalitarian” in her August 23, 2007, CNN profile “Christian Warriors.” But in 2008, she fawned over the “progress” achieved by Fidel Castro, and in 2013 she wished Zimbawean dictator Robert Mugabe a happy birthday. If a higher-profile (read: important) person had such a rich historical cache of commentary, they would have already been driven out of town by the gleeful jabs of late-night hosts across every network. (remember our good friend Brian Williams?) But not Amanpour: Her irrelevance is her cover, allowing her to skate under the radar and tape xenophobe signs to the back of each and every Brexiteer she can ambush with a camera.
I would cast my presidential election vote based on a “Which Candidate Are You?” BuzzFeed quiz, ask for Trump’s recommendation on skin-care products, and call Hillary Clinton for tech support before I would rely on Amanpour for an objective view of the world. For years, the mainstream media have reassured viewers of reporters’ objectivity. Lefties everywhere deny the existence of liberal media bias while swiping away Salon push notifications on their iPhones. But at least talking heads such as Chris Matthews — who has made no pretense about what sends a thrill up his leg — are more open about the leftward slant of their opinions. Amanpour — who has made the laughable claim to CBS’s Lesley Stahl that “no one knows” her biases — pretends to channel the spirit of Woodward and Bernstein. In fact, she is merely spreading propaganda as quickly as she can read a teleprompter (or fumble through notes).
#related#At a July 25, 2008, press conference with Barack Obama shown live on CNN, Amanpour asked French president Nicolas Sarkozy if he regretted criticizing black protesters in France, given that Obama was running to be America’s first African-American president. Someone willing to pose such a question should not be given the once-sacred charge of delivering news to the people.
The Hannan video was only the culmination of Amanpour’s shameful coverage of Brexit, the entirety of which was an offense to reason. Christiane Amanpour’s inability to see the contradiction between her imagined identity as a integrity-driven straight-news reporter and her obvious hackery makes her into a walking parody, a far funnier one than any that SNL could dream up.
— Andrew Badinelli is an intern at National Review.