Ethiopians and Eritreans are decrying CNN’s slander of their nations and peoples, but CNN’s just fulfilling their mission, manufacturing consent for aggression, deprivation, and war, most of all in the Global South.
On Sunday, I attended the San Francisco manifestation of the Ethiopian Eritrean global rally, and joined in a number of call and response chants. Most of all, speakers were chanting, “US OUT OF ETHIOPIA!”, “US OUT OF ERITREA!” and “US OUT OF AFRICA!” into the microphones, and the crowd was responding with the same. Other chants included:
RESPONSE: “FAKE NEWS!”
C: “AL JAZEERA!”
R: “FAKE NEWS!”
R: “FAKE NEWS!”
The New York Times, Reuters, AP, and the Guardian had all earned “Fake News!” chants too, and I wondered whether Donald Trump had any idea how far his “fake news” meme has spread. Indeed, I took a photograph of one protester’s sign that read, “CNN Fake News! Trump Was Right!” And of course Trump was one of those broken clocks that got it right twice a day, even as the liberal media sobbed and screamed about his bad manners.
I met another young Ethiopian American man with a sign reading, “Trump was Right! CNN is Fake News!!!” He said he’d never expected to be creating or carrying such a sign before the massive disinformation campaign against his home country, with CNN way out in the lead.
That campaign was the first weapon fired in Biden’s hybrid warfare against Ethiopians and their elected government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. It now includes harsh sanctions on Eritreans and more promised to Ethiopians come January unless they bend to US will, and neither their majorities nor their leaders show any sign of doing so.
The exception is, of course, the minority Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, more commonly known as the TPLF, a kleptocratic elite who ruled Ethiopia for 27 years with a Marxist-Leninist facade. US political, diplomatic, economic, and military support for the TPLF throughout that time evidenced just how paper-thin that facade was. In exchange for US support, the TPLF offered its army in service to the US agenda on the African continent, most notably when it invaded Somalia and overthrew the Islam Courts, leaving Somalia to struggle with al-Shabaab and US drone bombing ever since.
In 2018, the TPLF were ousted from power, but a year ago, in November 2020, treasonous TPLF troops attacked an Ethiopian federal army base, the Northern Command in Mek'ele, the capital of Tigray Region, starting a civil war.
Sunday’s demonstrators were filled with rage at the TPLF but seemed equally, and understandably, outraged by CNN. The community had raised the money to hire a public relations firm, which had at least managed to get a foot in the door at some of the big corporate and state press, but not at CNN. The firm told them that CNN was so committed to their narrative that there was no point in even trying.
Their narrative is that the TPLF are victims of a genocidal government, even though the massacre of Afar and Amhara civilians by the TPLF has been well-documented.
In the words of Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman in “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” the TPLF and the people of Tigray Region—whom the TPLF accuse the Ethiopian army of massacring—are “worthy victims.” The people of Afar and Amhara Regions are not.
Sad to say, CNN’s award winning foreign correspondent Nima Elbagir, who rivals USAID Chief Samantha Power in shrieking about “Tigray genocide,” has been Democracy Now!’s primary source on the Ethiopian conflict.
CNN! Turn It Off!
When I arrived at Sunday’s rally, the organizers asked me to say a few words impromptu, so I told the crowd that CNN and all these other outlets are doing exactly what they're supposed to do: manufacture consent for corruption, aggression, deprivation, and war, and for crushing any nation or people who dare to challenge US global hegemony, especially in the Global South.
I also suggested that they not burn too much of their energy hating on CNN, and that CNN is dying, as is the rest of cable news because more and more people, especially young people, prefer Web-based media. They loved that, so I told them to consider turning to the Black Agenda Report, the Grayzone, CovertAction, and other independent outlets.
Then I led a few rounds of a variation of their own call and response chant:
A: TURN IT OFF!!!
I said that criticizing CNN is fine, but the ultimate goal is to turn it off, and encourage anyone else they know to turn it off till its advertisers drift away and no one’s left listening.
Ann Garrison is a Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace through her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes Region. Please support her independent journalism on Patreon . She can be reached on Twitter @AnnGarrison and at ann(at)anngarrison(dot)com.