Last Monday, senior CNN anchor-woman Christiane Amanpour issued an apology on her show, following worldwide condemnation of her comments comparing President Donald Trump’s presidency with the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom. This outrage did not just come from Republicans or Conservatives, but also many liberal Jewish and non-Jewish groups, mostly based in America and Israel, but some in Europe and throughout the world.
It all began with her introduction to CNN’s flagship foreign affairs program on Thursday 12 November, in which Amanpour opened with, “This week 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened,” she said in the monologue.
“It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity, and in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth. “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.”
Amanpour wrote the script whilst video of book burnings were being shown on the screen, before she began speaking. As the chief international television host with almost 40 years of experience, she should have known better than to take great pains to erase the word, Jews, while speaking three times about Nazi attacks and genocide.
At best, she exploited and trivialized the Holocaust to make her analogy. At worst, as Tim Kaine put it in 2017, she engaged in a form of Holocaust denial.
Christiane Amanpour is an Iranian British national who studied in the United States. She married James Rubin in 1998 who is Jewish, and who served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the Bill Clinton administration, so Amanpour should have known better.
By the way, she and Rubin have since divorced, but the question remains, what was she thinking, especially as she knows the Holocaust is such a sensitive subject.
We are living in a time of rising anti-Semitism, shocking ignorance about the Holocaust, and so many deniers of what actually happened. Christiane Amanpour has a worldwide global audience on CNN, PBS and social media, and what she says matters.
She could have given an account of the events of that period on 9-10 November, 1938 in Germany and Austria. But instead, Amanpour used the Kristallnacht anniversary, to score political points.
Amanpour’s hatred towards Donald Trump and everything he stands for, weaponised Kristallnacht, which on that night, was an attack on Jews, a word she could not utter in her introduction.
On that night, dozens of Jewish people were killed, around 30,000 were arrested and sent to Buchenwald, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and thousands of Jewish businesses, shops and synagogues were smashed, looted and burnt to the ground.
Kristallnacht was NOT an attack on “fact, knowledge, history and truth” as she said in her introduction. It signaled the start of the impending Nazi genocide against the Jewish people, and Christiane Amanpour knew that.
But she preferred to deliberately compare Trump’s last four years in office with genocide, an affront to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
I recognise she apologised last Monday night with the words, “I regret any pain my statement may have caused. “My point was to say how democracy can potentially slip away and how we must always zealously guard our democratic values.”
But to juxtapose Adolf Hitler and all his evils, with President Donald Trump is painful, and an offense to the memory of the Nazi era and the systematic annihilation of six million Jewish men, women and children.
Call me cynical, but I suspect her apology was based on the tens of thousands of tweets she received, along with pressure from Jewish organisations in America and Israel, including members of the Knesset.
I would also lay a bet that the news network, CNN took this up with her.
And you wonder why people don’t believe the news any longer.