10 Truths from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour

Words by Alex Rayner

02 July 2020

The award-winning British-Iranian journalist and CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour CBE is one of the most inspirational women on the planet. A veteran journalist, Amanpour has been on the frontline for over three decades, covering global atrocities such as the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the Syrian crisis and the war in Bosnia, which served to throw the world spotlight on horrific acts of genocide.

Amanpour, who also regularly interviews prominent world leaders, including Tony Blair, Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Dalai Lama, recently sat down with British journalist Chloe Fox at Heckfield Place, for a conversation on ‘Truthful, not Neutral’ and why in the era of fake news, and Trump, we must fight back. Here are 10 of her most inspiring, truthful take-aways.

MY CAREER WAS INSPIRED… by the Iranian revolution. “I’d watch this thing happen, look at the news, listen to the radio, and be fascinated by the way the stories were told.”

BOSNIA WAS MY FORMATIVE JOURNALISTIC EXPERIENCE…. “I started to get criticised because I was taking a side. And yeah, I was: I was taking the side of the victims.”

I WAS SCHOOLED IN THE HORRORS OF THE HOLOCAUST… “I’d grown up hearing ‘never again’, and never again was happening in front of my eyes in the Balkans and Europe”.

PRESIDENT CLINTON WAS GREAT BUT… “He has a short temper. Having the US president shouting at you on global television is not a good look.” Amanpour recalls lambasting Clinton for his equivocation over the war in the Balkans during a 1996 CNN debate.

CNN PIONEERED TV NEWS… “The BBC had the World Service radio, but no one had world service television, until Ted Turner - he was a pioneer.”

FAKE NEWS…. “is news that critics don’t want to hear, not because of its inaccuracy, but because it is politically inconvenient.’

AS FOR TRUMP… “Leaders like Trump stand to gain by spreading the notion of fake news as it weakens criticism of him, which for us at CNN is an existential crisis. We traffic new facts; we can’t be told we’re fake.”

WE ALL HAVE A DUTY… “Objectivity does not mean a false moral equivalence. If you’re neutral when faced with great crimes against humanity, you’re an accomplice.”

TRUTH IS NOT UNDER ATTACK… “It’s democracy. In the last 18 months, we’ve really had to focus on the pillars of civil society. The assault on fair reporting has been accompanied by a parallel attack on other democratic institutions.”
WE MUST FIGHT BACK… “If we don’t, you end up with this awful reality where there is no truth. Without accurate, engaged news reporting, we could face a world of grey indifference.”

Watch the entire interview here

Christiane Amanpour was interviewed at the elegant country hotel and retreat Heckfield Place in Hampshire, UK, as part of its programme of cultural talks and events, The Assembly. For more information on the programme’s schedule, and how to make the most of your stay at Heckfield Place as a Quintessentially member, please contact your Lifestyle Manager.

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