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CNN boss apologizes to Uhuru for ‘Hotbed of terror’ gaffe

By PSCU August 13th, 2015 2 min read

CNN has expressed its deep regret after portraying Kenya as a ‘hotbed of terror’ ahead of a visit to Nairobi by President Barack Obama last month.

CNN’s Global Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Tony Maddox, flew to Nairobi from Atlanta to personally deliver the apology to President Uhuru Kenyatta. Maddox admitted that the description of Kenya as a “hotbed of terror” was both ill-fitting and undeserved.

President Kenyatta expressed his deep disappointment at the story not only on behalf of the government, but also because it angered the people of Kenya.

President Kenyatta reiterated that the war on terror was a global threat, not unique to Kenya, and that Kenya’s troops and her people have made great sacrifices and still do, to keep Kenya and the region safe.

President Kenyatta added that CNN’s misrepresentation of Kenya was unfortunate and ill timed, since it came at a critical moment in Kenya’s history, and because it made a mockery of the sacrifices of Kenya’s men and women in uniform.


“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,” the President said.

The CNN report labeling Kenya a “hotbed of terror” came just before US President Obama’s visit. It was received with anger by Kenyans on Twitter, prompting a campaign under the hash tag, #SomeoneTellCNN.

Last month’s report came in the wake of a similar gaffe by CNN before the Kenyan general election of 2013, which also sparked a campaign across Kenyan social media.

Maddox oversees CNN’s global editorial policy, and manages CNN news content globally. In his apology Mr. Maddox said: “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. There is a world at a war with extremists; we know what a hotbed of terror looks like, and Kenya isn’t one,” Maddox added.

President Kenyatta added that while he didn’t expect Kenya to be showered in praise, it remained the duty of a credible press to stick to factual reporting and honest critique.

Kenya’s news media is one of the most vibrant in Africa, and robust constitutional provisions protect the press.