A senior reporter at CBS has recently sparked outrage after he suggested that Ukraine is more “civilised” than countries in the Middle East such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
On Friday, Charlie D’Agata, who was reporting from the capital city of Kyiv, said that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades.
“This is a relatively civilised, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city, where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”
Immediately, the clip went viral across all social media platforms, with many users claiming the comments made were nothing short of “disgraceful.”
Others, including Novara Media co-founder Aaron Bastani, referred to the clip as “extraordinary.”
“Hopefully when more pressing issues are resolved, and Russia’s aggression is neutralised, we can begin to ask why war, death and suffering is considered normal for some human beings and not others,” he wrote.
After seeing the backlash, D’Agata addressed his “poor choice of words” during another segment from the Ukrainian capital, which was later posted to Twitter by the official CBS News account.
“I spoke in a way I regret, and for that I’m sorry,” he said, adding that he was trying to convey that Ukraine hasn’t seen “this scale of war” in recent years, unlike other countries.
“You should never compare conflicts anyway, each one is unique… I used a poor choice of words and I apologise for any offence I may have caused.”
However, social media users weren’t ready to accept his apology just yet.
“If anyone of us ever uttered anything like this at our job sites we would probably be fired … How can reporters on renown news channels get away with this !? .. @CBSNews Is this apology enough! Shame on you!! #BoycottCBSNews,” wrote one user.
“Have you not fired your racist fascist reporter yet? Or he is too “civilized” and “europian” to be fired? At least he is white and non-Iraqi, right?” Added another.
This wasn’t the only instance of casual racism we’ve seen throughout the reporting of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Journalists (and let’s be honest here, it’s been primarily white/European journalists) have taken it upon themselves to blatantly expose their biased narratives, narratives we already knew plagued the media, but the blatant weaponising of it during this particular event has been overwhelming.
During a segment on BBC News, another correspondent, David Sakvarelidze, added more evidence to the idea that only white people deserve sympathy in the face of adversity saying: “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.”
Yes, those were the exact words that came out of his mouth.
It’s giving me undercover Hitler vibes.
And let’s not forget about Al Jazeera English either, because we don’t do biased reviews here at MVSLIM.
During their coverage on the channel, a presenter said: “What is compelling about these people is how they’re dressed; these are prosperous, middle class people who obviously are not refugees,” while showing clips of Ukrainians fleeing their country.
Their PR outlet later administered an apology on Twitter, writing: “An @AJEnglish presenter made unfair comparisons between Ukrainians fleeing the war and refugees from the MENA region. The presenter’s comments were insensitive and irresponsible. We apologize to our audiences worldwide and the breach of professionalism is being dealt with.”
I’m going to speak from personal experience here, because I’ve been working in the media for a little while now and let me tell you, the narrative never changes. We still get bulls*** like this on a regular. And don’t try and tell me it might have been a ‘blunder’ or an accidental ‘slip-of-the-tongue’ because if there’s anyone that knows what they’re doing with their words, it’s a journalist.
It’s common knowledge that terms like ‘civilised’ are extremely politically loaded and reporters that tell you they’re not aware of that, need to be fired immediately. Historically, the term has been used to convey the idea that non-white societies are filled with savages and this excuse later became the catalyst for major events like colonisation and slavery, two tools used to maim and destroy Brown and Black communities. So no, this was not just a “poor choice of words.” This was, yet again, a harmful re-emphasis that some lives are more valuable than others – in this case it just so happens to be Ukrainian lives against Afghanis, Yeminis, Palestinians, Iraqis and so on.
It’s disgusting and needs to be condemned globally.
The news comes after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to dominate the world.
Last Thursday, President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in order to demilitarise their neighbouring country. Just shortly after Russian troops stormed the Crimea border, reports of explosions on the outskirts of the cities of Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, as well as the capital city of Kyiv have confirmed the news we were all hoping would not come true.
There have been multiple deaths as the war rages on, with some outlets predicting the official stats are around the 600 mark.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are affected by this tragedy.
This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.