CNN reporter ignites firestorm overseas
CNN reporter Jeanne Moos sparked outrage in New Zealand and Australia for her coverage of the visit of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge to New Zealand, for mocking the dress and customs of the Maori people who greeted the royals. It is almost inconceivable that a CNN reporter would mock the traditions of Native Americans, blacks, or other domestic minorities (and that editors would air such a report), but take them outside of their zone of PC awareness, and the inherent attitudes disguised at home come shining through.
Jamila Rizvi of the Australian site mamamia.com.au writes:
This weekend, American news network CNN came to the Culturally Insensitive Party and danced everyone else off the floor. Their coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s ongoing tour of New Zealand wasn’t so much ignorant as it was downright offensive. (snip)
The video opens with references to a traditionally dressed Māori warrior as ‘the royal bummer’, which is terrifically funny and witty because of course the warrior’s buttocks was exposed.
But while being bare-bottomed might not be the state of dress the Duchess of Cambridge is used to being greeted in; the exposure of the warrior’s leg and buttocks tattoos is highly cogent.
As The Guardian reports:
The warrior’s taurape (buttocks tattoo) and puhoro (thigh tattoo) emphasises the engine room of the warrior’s body, says Māori tattoo expert Tim Worrall. “The largest muscles, the means by which the warrior remains agile.”
The patterns seen are commonly associated with warriors and, says Worrall, “express his essential vitality”. There’s the motif of the koru, the end of an unfolding fern, representing connection to the natural world.
CNN’s response to this man’s show of strength and power: Play a bizarre part-parrot, part-computerised squawking sound and ask “Is that any way to welcome a future king and queen?”
Well, yes actually, it is.
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were greeted with a traditional Māori welcome called a pōwhiri. The pōwhiri is a ceremony involving singing and dancing that is performed to welcome visitors onto the sacred land outside a Māori meeting house. The gods, the earth and ancestors are acknowledged and new guests and their hosts are joined together as one.
Moos has issued a half-hearted apology, not for what she did, but for people’s reactions to it:
“Duly noted,” she said.
“I do humour and satire, and I am truly sorry if the tone of my story offended anyone.”
Her apology followed the launch of a Change.org petition saying the reporter’s “blatant disregard for, and insensitive commentary concerning, the Maori culture and its customs are inadmissible”.
The leader of the petititon, student Jay Evett, told Radio Australia that he remains unimpressed by the apology.
“Her apology was, to say the least, lacklustre,” Mr Evett said. “She didn’t actually apologise for the content of her report, rather the tone and if people took offence to her tone.”
A video of the report can be seen below:
Hat tip: Peter von Buol