TVNewser confirmed the dismissal of CNN Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange last week. CNN has been mum on the subject, but the undulating controversy gives us a little window into CNN corporate policy. According to Marianne Briner, the woman reportedly involved with Koinange:
“I have been told by a close friend of [Anderson] Cooper that CNN is monitoring all correspondence of their personalities and when they went into his email-exchange to arrange for the meeting with these Nigerian rebels, they also came across his correspondence with me (more than 1.000 emails cannot be overseen). CNN does not allow private correspondence via their [official] computers and all emails Jeff had sent to me and I to him went via firstname.lastname@example.org — the official channel of CNN. Jeff should have known that this could one day create a problem. But obviously he did not regard this [as] serious.”
Koinange, for his part, did seem aware, writing to Briner, “… I have been ‘reprimanded’ by CNN from emailing anything other than the ‘basics’ ….. it’s causing them great concern…..”
Oh, and then there’s the whole “Did he or didn’t he pay the Nigerian rebels who helped him get a story?” issue. On the February 18 broadcast, during which Koinange reported the story about 24 Filipino sailors held hostage, he said:
We literally just rented a boat in the port of Wari in southern Nigeria and just were in the — in the swamp for about an hour-and-a-half. And before we knew it, we were surrounded by masked men shooting at us, demanding who we were. After we identified ourselves, they took us on deep into the swamps to one of their hideouts and literally paraded these 24 Filipino hostages right in front of us.
In an email to CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton, however, Briner quoted Koinange:
Of course I had to pay certain people to get the story — but everything was done in agreement with CNN and in accordance with their usual standards — but you do not get such a story without bribing — you know how the world and especially in Nigeria functions — you have to have financial resources — but at the end it was worth it — CNN has its story and I have my ‘fame’ ……)