Anderson Cooper's Big Fat Africa Lies

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[International: Africa Slandered]

We can’t begrudge Anderson Cooper his pedigreed background; being born to the scion family of the Vanderbilts of the railroad tycoon, nor his meteoric rise in the world of broadcast journalism.  Nor should we begrudge him his recently $4 million a year contract with the CNN.  With all the encomiums written about him, you would think that Anderson Cooper is the poster child of journalistic integrity.  But I and millions of Africans disagree.

But what we definitely begrudge, and vehemently protest against, is Anderson Cooper using Africa to further his unbridled ambition, by lying about the origin of HIV/AIDS. On the 16th of June, Mr. Cooper’s program, “Anderson 360” broadcast the second in a series of “Planets in Peril.”

In the program, with CNN’s chief medical reporter, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper had traveled to four countries in Africa, and got some unsuspecting Africans who weren’t aware of the diabolical nature of his mission, to pose with animals, chimps, to infer how Africans live and interact with these animals as well as eat the carcasses of the animals, thereby infected with whatever diseases the animals carry.  Cooper jumped to the conclusion that, from these interactions, HIV/AIDS originated in Africa.  Of course, this theory (not scientifically backed by facts) has been totally discredited by many scientists.

First of all, Africans have been living in Africa and interacting and eating the carcasses of animals before, during and after the slave trade.  In the years from 1664, when the white man started plucking Africans to the new land, to 1982 when five gay men in San Francisco were discovered to have the HIV/AIDS virus, the AIDS virus were not known to exist in any part of Africa. 

Because of Anderson Cooper’s stark naked lies and utter jingoistic journalism, Africans are screaming "murder" at Cooper and his affiliated network, CNN.  Especially given his own admission that he was a compulsive liar, even with trivial things like what he had for lunch, you can then see why Africans would want people to know who Anderson Cooper is. 

He might have skyrocketed himself to fame by using his family’s money to go to Burma and start sending news from that area, thereby establishing himself in the eyes of network news divisions as an credible journalist, but Africans see him as a conniving duplicitous individual that’s out to harm a continent he hardly knows anything about. 

We thoroughly sympathize with the major loss of his senior brother by suicide, but we don’t believe that’s an excuse of targeting and branding Africa as the origin of HIV/AIDS, without providing the counter-parts of those who have disproved his assertions. 

Africans are vowing not to let irresponsible and unbridled ambitious seeking journalists like Anderson Cooper use Africa as their ladder to success and fortune. The first to lob a salvo at the nonsensical embellishments of Cooper’s hubris was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Cajetan Ihewulezi of St. Louis, who, writing in the intellectually famed Toyin Folala’s African listserv, USA Africa Dialogue Series, started by correcting Anderson Cooper’s ignorance about Africa, thus:  “Mr. Cooper sees the continent of Africa as a village or as small as a state in the US. He does not know that Africa is made up of fifty three countries to be precise and is bigger than the United States of America. Mr. Cooper’s journalism about Africa entails going to some collaborating African countries like Congo, Cameroon, South Africa, and Kenya and paying poor people up front with fat amount of dollars to pose before monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas. He takes them to jungles and takes pictures of human beings playing with animals to show the world that Africans live in jungles and side by side with wild Animals and that their houses are made up of leaves and tree branches.”


Continued Fr. Ihewulezi, “Mr. Cooper should be called to order or else he will one day try to prove to the world that Hitler was an African and had planned the Holocaust in one country of Africa----It is only when we start telling ourselves the truth about this disease that we can find its cure. It is not acceptable for one American journalist to talk as if he has found the answer to a planet (Earth) that is plagued by diseases in one continent called AFRICA. This insult on Africa from Anderson Cooper as a person and from CNN as an institution must stop. We can no longer sit down and watch CNN and its fame seeking journalists keep sponsoring programs that harass and dehumanize Africans. Enough should be enough!”

Assistant Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, Moses Ebe Ochonu, was repulsed by the racist nature of the advertised preview of the program, “which offensively advertised the racist myth that Africans proximity to gorillas birthed HIV/AIDS. I thought HIV/AIDS started here in the US of A (in the San Francisco area), as a so-called gay disease? To make it appetizing and credible to his Western audience, Mr. Cooper threw in Ebola and the oddly-named Marbug virus as diseases that Africans also brought into the human population from proximate primates.”

“I am not surprised to learn that the program was as racist as the preview advertised,” he wrote. “I used to like Mr. Cooper’s reporting, until he became a journalistic equivalent of Indiana Jones, searching for 'jungles' in Africa and reporting repeatedly and nauseatingly on the 'mysteries and dangers' lurking in them. Nowadays, AC360 focuses on the sleaziest of stories and non-stories. Cooper’s racial insensitivity and appetite for the negative has reached an intolerable height.”

While some suggested writing to CNN to make the network aware of Africans’ displeasure, Rev. Fr. Tony Agbali disagreed, saying it wouldn’t achieve much.  Instead, he believes, “The Western media would not stop at this onslaught against us, until we invest and have our own global network.”


He gave the example of the Middle East where the Western media was doing the same thing, “until Al Jezeera emerged and now drowned their negativity, matching and countering it force for force.  Anderson and CNN are bigots----Writing CNN, hmmm, is a good idea, but what would this solve for a network that has increasingly become bloatedly xenophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-other, and callously deformed in its self-serving arrogance.  I mean, apart from Larry King, all those bunch of bigoted CNN loud mouthed, adrenalin surging, senile masquerades knowing dancing for their own appraising hate entertainments do not in any bit interest me.”

Many suggestions were offered as to how to protest CNN’s airing of Anderson Cooper’s trashy broadcast about Africa, with most agreeing that CNN must be contacted and Africa’s anger made known to the network, which one declared was losing audiences fast due to its untruths.  One even shamelessly suggested that Africans cough up and pool their hard-earned dollars to advertise our protest in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. 


What’s wrong with our people, this colonialist mentality?  It reminds me of when the New York Times wrote a very critical strident editorial about Nigeria, and Nigeria "retaliated" by taking out a full page in the New York Times, costing about $120,000.  Or even the mother in the village who, when the daughter complained of being raped, marched the young woman back to the young man and asked her to rape him back.  Yet there are many African media, in print, in broadcast, and online.  Imagine.

For a change, Africans’ indignation at being used by irresponsible journalists like Anderson Cooper are becoming palpable and being challenged with the same viciousness as those making it.  HIV/AIDS did not originate in Africa, period; any eighth student could easily find this out.  Unfortunately, Mr. Anderson Cooper lied to the ignorance of Americans.  It is up to us to change the nature of the discourse.


Onyeani is Publisher of The African Sun Times

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