Christiane Amanpour’s History

“In that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth,” she said. “After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”

I have never been a fan of CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. In the early days of her career, I did respect the fact that she reported from some very dangerous places in the world as a war correspondent. Over the years, I realized that her politics were not in lockstep with mine, but I could excuse that. What I found harder to accept was the fact that, like so many of her colleagues in the media, she mixed fact and opinion in her reporting. Of course, that is why she has lasted so long at CNN.

This week, Amanpour has created more controversy with her comparison of President Donald Trump to the forces that carried out the so-called Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass in Germany in 1938 during the Third Reich. It was an obscene comparison, and she has seen fit to apologize, which is to her credit. Would she have apologized had the incident not caused so much outrage, so much so that even the state of Israel protested? I don’t know.

To me, it is not a question of whether Amanpour is anti-Semitic. I have no reason to believe she is. What I find so objectionable is linking Trump to this piece of history. Trump is many things, but I reject the charge that he is anti-Semitic. This is a man whose own daughter has converted to Judaism, the religion of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. This is the president who has been more supportive of Israel than any other president in my lifetime, and this is the president who has put universities in the US on notice that if they don’t put an end to the bullying of Jewish students, they could lose federal funding. If Amanpour wants to trash Trump, I suggest she find a more apt comparison.

Amanpour apparently also needs to brush up on her history, which is supposed to be an important asset for a career journalist. In the television piece, she did comparing Trump to Kristallnacht, she mixed the event up with another incident from the Third Reich, the book-burning that occurred in 1933. On that occasion on the evening of May 10, 1933 university students collected books by German writers the regime looked upon with disfavor (many of whom were Jewish) and burned them in public ceremonies in university towns across Germany as Nazi officials gave speeches.

Five years later, in November 1938, Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat working at the German embassy in Paris, was shot and mortally wounded by Herschel Grynszspan, a young Polish Jew upset that his family had been deported from Germany to Poland. When vom Rath died, the Nazis used the incident as an excuse to launch Kristallnacht, in which Jewish shops and synagogues were burned down across the country and thousands of Jews arrested.

In addition to the above-quoted reference to the “tower of burning books” (which was not Kristallnacht), Amanpour also included a film clip of the book burning, which had occurred 5 years before Kristallnacht.

Both incidents were despicable, but linking either of them to Trump is inaccurate and only shows the deep bias that exists in the American news media. Amanpour compounded her error by mixing up basic facts about the Third Reich that are so basic, any educated person should know the difference.

About the Author
Gary Fouse worked from 1998-2016 as adjunct teacher at University of California at Irvine Ext. teaching English as a second language. Served three years in US Army Military Police at Erlangen, Germany 1966-68. 1970-1973- Criminal Investigator with US Customs 1973-1995 Criminal investigator with Drug Enforcement Administration. Stationed in Los Angeles, Bangkok, Milan, Italy, Pittsburgh and Office of Training, FBI Academy, Quantico, Va. until retirement. Author of Erlangen-An American's History of a German Town-University Press of America 2005. The Story of Papiamentu- A Study in Slavery and Language, University Press of America, 2002. The Languages of the Former Soviet Republics-Their History and Development, University Press of America, 2000.
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