CNN’s Jef Koinange Axed

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The American network chose to remain tight lipped about the reason Koinange, 41, lost his job giving no more than a “he is no longer employed at CNN, and we are not commenting beyond that,” statement from CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson who added that “there are several different people who will fill in for the time being.”

Details, however, began to emerge on various blogs attempting to explain Koinange’s undignified exit. His sacking was apparently prompted by an alleged date rape incident. The saga began with a purported March 3 e-mail from a woman to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide.

The woman, identified as Marianne Briner, a Swiss national, authored a book A Shining Star in Darkness (available at amazon.com) on the killing of former Kenyan Foreign Minister in 1990. She has been on the run since testifying in the Kenyan Parliament during the sensational Ouko murder investigation.


Jeff had promised to get Briner’s story aired on CNN in Atlanta and to present the book on Inside Africa (CNN’s 30-minute programme spotlighting Africa). “Soon after, he started to call me and things changed to very private and personal matters,” the single mother of one alleged in the e-mail.

How the fallout began is yet to be fully explained. Obviously though, Jeff might have decided he was tired of his fling which Briner did not take very well. She exacted her revenge in the cruellest way possible. She decided to put an end to his career at the CNN by getting in touch with his bosses about her affair with one of their leading reporters. She opened a blog where she shared with a breathlessly watching and reading world how the romance had began and grown. Sadly for Jeff, the duo had exchanged intimate and graphic e-mails throughout their affair, which she never deleted. “PLEASE don’t be SORRY —- we’re in this together, YOU and ME ….. so let’s not start regretting anything ….” read one line attributed to Koinange.

The e-mails had quite a number of shocking revelations like the allegation that Koinange suffers from the venereal disease Herpes- the probable reason his eight-year-old marriage has yielded no child. Briner also alleges that while in London, Koinange may have had forceful sex with her.

It was less the alleged affair than the detail he gave away about how he went about executing his job for CNN that probably riled Koinange’s bosses. He revealed how he had to bribe Nigerian officials to get juicy stories, the manoeuvres he had to employ to get stories in Darfur, Sudan, (the last of which aired on Anderson Cooper 360° on May 17) where he was supposed to be greatly risking his life.

“CNN and Koinange did not come out looking so good from these revelations, which certainly took a major shine off all international media houses that are always preaching high standards and code of ethics to African media houses,” one blog commented.

Another blog asked what really blinded Jeff. “Was it just the search for an orgasm ………? For someone with that exposure and responsibility, Jeff is just a disappointment …….. and he left CNN with no choice but to sack him,” read the posting.

The Nigerian government must be grinning with delight about Koinange’s recent reversal of fortunes. It reprimanded him earlier this year for his coverage of the rebels in Nigeria’s oil rich Delta Region in which Koinange accompanied masked guerrillas to a camp where they were holding 24 Filipino hostages. The Nigerian government said that the report was “paid for and staged”, a charge CNN (and Koinange) initially denied until Briner’s e-mails started doing the rounds.

Koinange’s journalism pips include covering the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the famine in Niger for which he won an Emmy award, the Iraqi post-war insurgency, reconstruction and historic 2005 elections and the commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. He was also part of CNN’s Peabody award winning team who covered the devastation wreaked on News Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 1995.

Koinange’s successful foray into journalism started after he quit his job as a flight attendant where passengers often applauded the young man’s recitation of in-flight safety announcements at 21. He graduated from New York’s Kingsborough Community College with an Associate’s degree and then moved to New York University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism. Koinange began his news career in 1991 as a desk assistant/off-air reporter for ABC, News in New York followed by two years as a reporter and producer for Medical News Network. He produced for NBC News in 1994, then for Reuters Television from 1995 to 2001, with expanding responsibility for Africa coverage. Koinange also served as their chief producer from 1999 to 2001.

The sad bit to this tale is we may never see his droopy gaze or hear his resonant voice and polished accent on international TV in a while. His plans to someday raise a family in South Africa or in his hometown’, Nairobi may have also come to nought.

Source: Moses Serugo | The Ugandan Monitor