Getting it wrong in Kenya cost CNN big time

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When prior to President Obama’s visit to Nairobi the Kenyan aviation authorities issued a formal NOTAM, a.k.a.

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When prior to President Obama’s visit to Nairobi the Kenyan aviation authorities issued a formal NOTAM, a.k.a. Notice to Air Men, of the airspace and airport closure prior to the arrival of Air Force One and then again prior to the departure of Air Force One, CNN was swift to portray Kenya as a ‘Hotbed of Terror’ and accused Kenyan authorities of engineering a security breach. Little did their editorial staff take into account that NOTAM’s are mandatory notices to airlines and pilots to ensure that airspace closures can and will in fact be observed. The resulting outrage in Kenya subsequently led to the suspension of a major tourism PR deal which was to run on the CNN International for a year but became untenable following the faux pas of CNN.

Strangely, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), however was not accused of the same security breach after issuing their own NOTAM for Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where President Obama will spend his summer vacation with his family nor for Vice President Biden’s vacation location in Charleston and Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Both NOTAM’s were, as required, published and are now in the public domain:

The FAA has issued a VIP NOTAM outlining temporary flight restrictions for Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., (KMVY)through Aug. 23 for President Obama’s vacation.

Another VIP NOTAM has been issued to provide temporary flight restrictions around Charleston, S.C., (KCHS) and Kiawah Island, S.C., during Vice President Biden’s vacation through Aug. 14.

Although the NOTAMs linked above are the most recent VIP NOTAMs provided by the FAA as of midday on Aug. 11, operators should check the FAA’s Graphic TFR page for revisions or updates and to find the full details about the areas affected and all the restrictions and requirements. NBAA’s VIP 91.141 TFR NOTAM Impact Statements page is a resource as well.

The complete lack of mention of these NOTAM’s by CNN, making no allegations about so called security breaches, combined with past major misreporting about Africa in general and East Africa in particular, suggests both incompetence and bias in the highest order, further strengthening the sentiments of Kenyan tourism stakeholders opposed to the PR deal and demanding to move it from suspension level to outright cancellation.

‘Thank you for exposing CNN’s double standards in reporting. Before Obama came to Kenya they came up with some incredible rubbish about our country. Accusing the Kenyan authorities of causing a security breach and calling us a hotbed of terror was insulting, defamatory and I suspect even somewhat racist. The NOTAM’s you mentioned did not get such airtime from the CNN network, a clear pointer to what they did to Kenya. I have also researched a bit and found that no such concerns were raised when NOTAM’s were issued at past Obama visits to other countries. Also was no mention of the NOTAM made which the Ethiopians issued when he flew from Nairobi to Addis Ababa and their airport and airspace was also closed. We should not pay them a cent even and if any deposits were advanced we must get out money back. I am sure when you publish this Kenyans will probably realize just how they have been treated’ ranted a regular senior tourism source when this development was brought to his attention.

If any more reasons were needed for Kenya to justify their decision, this most recent discovery should only add to CNN’s woes if they try to enforce the contracts signed, considering the massive reputation damage their domestic network did to Kenya and the region.

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