John Oliver added his name and HBO franchise (“Last Week Tonight“) to the group hammering CNN for its Saturday “exclusive” on the alarming appearance of an Islamic State flag at London’s Pride parade. Based on reporting from international assignment editor Lucy Pawle, the network claimed that no one but CNN had taken notice of this “unnerving sight.”
Turns out some clever individual had pocked an Islamic State lookalike flag with images of sex toys.
In his sendup of the situation, Oliver said, “The greatest moment in global pride celebrations actually had nothing to do with gay marriage and everything to do with the idiocy of CNN.” After running through the dynamics of the screw-up, Oliver noted that one day after the embarrassment, “They’ve still not addressed that mistake on air, probably because it would be just too embarrassing to have a professional journalist say, ‘I’m sorry, despite working at CNN, I still don’t know what a [phallic sex toy] looks like.”
Nor will CNN be addressing the matter. When asked whether it would issue a statement or otherwise do any interviews on the flag mess, a CNN spokeswoman e-mailed, “no.”
That’s piling one mistake atop another. Given that we’re talking about a mistake that occurred on a Saturday involving a satirical flag festooned with images of sex toys, it’s tempting to laugh off the whole matter — which is what CNN appears to be doing. Yet the tone of the report from anchor Suzanne Malveaux and Pawle was anything but jocular. Team CNN couldn’t fathom why more people weren’t alarmed by the situation and it ran photos of what CNN would have you believe was an Islamic State supporter. Plenty of material to retract, in other words.