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Christiane Amanpour, the Last Journalist…

My all-too-brief occupation as a working journalist, included covering areas of the Middle East, East Africa, and Central & South America (1969-74).

Christiane Amanpour (54)...

I started in Beirut, Lebanon, easily the most beautiful city in the world, at least that I’ve ever visited. Beirut has well-earned the title of Paris of the Middle East with over 5,000 years of Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Ottoman and French history.

Despite the Lebanese civil war of 1975-90, Syria’s occupation from 1976-2005, and Israel’s occupation from 1978-2000, the city has returned as a cosmopolitan nexus of Arab and Western culture.

I came to know a number of journalists who lived up to the profession. Two of the more notable were John Cooley of the Christian Science Monitor, and Mark (Abdallah) Schleifer of NBC.

As I’ve moved on to other careers, including Criminal Defense Investigations (CDI), federal prison experiences, and forensic psychology (PsyD), I’ve always kept an eye on my first love of news journalism and political commentary.

Real journalists have become a rare breed. The mass media today is almost exclusively monopolized by corporations. Profit and propaganda is their sole goal.  Ratings count, but only within their capital context. “Fair and Balanced News” is simply an inside joke.

Richard Engel and Christiane Amanpour are two current examples of authentic journalists who nevertheless have to serve corporate interests. They’ve made their bones in the field reporting the news, not managing it and “reporting” it as talking heads.

Richard Engel, 38, grew up in NYC and is the son a former Goldman Sach’s financier. At 23, a graduate of Stanford in International Relations in 1996, he packed off to Cairo to live in a working-class neighborhood and immerse himself in the language and culture. Today, fluent in Arabic, he also speaks Spanish and Italian.

When I was working with NBC in Beirut in 1970-71, Engel wasn’t even born yet (1973). In 2006, he became Bureau Chief for NBC in Beirut. Today, he’s chief foreign correspondent for NBC News.

Christiane Amanpour’s (54) accomplishments, as a woman in a traditionally man’s occupation, have been all the more remarkable.  She was born in London in 1958, another year when US Marines were sent into Beirut as peacekeepers.

President Eisenhower, one of the last Republicans to have actually served in the military, soon pulled them out without becoming embroiled in the quasi-religious politics.  Of course, in his final act as president, he also warned the nation of its greatest threat: The military-industrial complex.

Christiane was raised in Tehran in her early years by her airline exec Iranian father and English mother. In addition to British, Christiane speaks fluent Farsi and French. By the time of the Iraq-Iran war in 1980, the family had moved back to England.

Moving to the US, she attended the University of Rhode Island. One of her housemates in East Providence was John F. Kennedy Jr., who was attending Brown.

Oriana Fallaci, 1929-2006...

When I first noted Christiane working as a war correspondent, I was reminded of Oriana Fallaci, an Italian journalist with a heroic history of anti-fascist partisan work in World War II.

Through a number of conflicts including Vietnam, Oriana became a renowned political interviewer and war correspondent. She died in 2006.

Christiane started her career with CNN in 1983 when she graduated from the University of Rhode Island summa cum laude with a Bachelor in Journalism degree. She covered the Iran-Iraq War, then Eastern Europe and the eventual fall of Stalinism.

By the time I started my 25-yr bit in federal prison in 1990, she was moved to CNN’s NYC bureau. She covered the Iraq-Kuwait War and then the Bosnian War.

Her eye-witness and passionate reporting of the massacre in Sarajevo received growing criticism from the corporate media and–given the Muslim nature of the area–the myopic and racist prejudice of right-corporatism.

To her vast credit, Christiane’s response was, “There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving all sides a hearing.”

Today, Angelina Jolie is facing much this same criticism for her docu-drama film efforts of that conflict. We would be best reminded of Benito Mussolini’s definition, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

Ultimately, ALL corporate monopolizations become fascist organizations or cease to exist.

Amanpour’s interviews of noted state and political personalities also became a trademark of her journalism. She received contracts with CBS and 60 Minutes, and ABC’s “This Week.” However, it was inevitable that she would fall afoul of corporate management and its biases.

Richard Engel, 38...

After Jeff Fager replaced Don Hewitt as head of 60 Minutes, one of his first tasks was to end Amanpour’s contract.

Fager, a major player in Israel’s AIPAC lobby, could not long tolerate Amanpour’s mentions of Palestinian human rights and opposition to settler-colonialism.

Former chief exec Don Hewitt did note that if he were still in charge, “she’d still be there.”

Christiane is now leaving ABC’s “This Week” and returning to CNN in her former role as roving correspondent. ABC is replacing her with their corporate lawn jockey, George Stephanopolous.  She’ll continue some specials for ABC as they may decide, but most of her teeth have been pulled.

Returning to her journalism work with CNN, we can can only hope that at least some real reportage will creep back into the news.

Dr. Publico

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