Sunday, 19 April 2009

Jessie Duarte goes bananas as she savages a Times journalist

Ill-mannered ANC spin-doctor Jessie Duarte has set a new personal best when it comes to hostility, paranoia and sheer nastiness. When Sunday Times reporter Philani Nombembe phoned her with innocent questions about how the ANC is using the Internet to communicate with voters, she reacted like a maddened wasp, aiming vicious stings at the reporter, the Sunday Times, the 'third force', the media in general and - surprise - white people.

The conversation starts off innocuously enough, with the journalist asking about online communication. Duarte tells him about ANC blogs.

'Does the ANC president also get to answer... ' the reporter begins.

'Yes, he's got his own blog,' answers Duarte, and gives details. Then, a second later, she adds, 'But yes, he does read it, he does, he does.'

A venomous pause. Then she snaps, 'You know, he can actually read, contrary to your opinion.'

Reporter: Ok. Er, okay, does....

Duarte: How can you ask me a question like that, you know, 'Does the ANC president actually read?' [The reporter asked no such thing.] Good God! Can you guys just get a life now?

Reporter: No, I understand what you say...

Duarte: No, you must get a life! Your newspaper must get a life. You're terribly classist, and if you were not black, I would say you were a racist... but well, I suppose you could be a racist, even if you were black like me. But you've got a very bad attitude... your newspaper has. But seriously speaking now, this man, whether you like it or not, is going to be the next president of the country, and actually we're not so concerned what the Times thinks. We know where you come from, and we know where you're going to.

Then she calms down and offers a few insights about Facebook and blogging. Then:

Reporter: But I hope you understand where I'm coming from...

Duarte: No, listen, I know who you work for. Look, you guys, there's no soap that will wash a Times journalist in my eyes.

Reporter: That's very unfortunate.

Duarte: No, it's not unfortunate, it's reality. I think that if you are a South African who wants to see transformation then you've got to join in the fight for it, not become part of the, um, er, third force. But you all sound exactly the same, so there's no point.

She wishes him a good day, and he asks if he can call her again.

Duarte: Yes you can, except if you insult my president, I'll just cut the phone down on you. I mean, how do I know you can read? You are probably one of those people who might be able to be a whizzkid on the Internet, but maybe you can't read at all, you know. So I don't ask you questions like that.

Reporter: [muffled protests]

Duarte: I mean, the fact that you're a journalist doesn't make you a genius. [Guffaw]. You're just a journalist.


It's not as if I need another reason not to vote for the ANC in Wednesday's election, but this conversation signs, seals and delivers my resolve never, ever to vote for this party again.

This person is the official spokesperson for the party that's going to govern our country, and this is how she responds to the polite enquiries of a newspaper journalist?

Why have a spokesperson at all? Why doesn't the ANC just refer all media queries to a random toddler at a local crèche? In fact, you'd get more logic, decorum and sense out of a hungry, tired two-year-old who's just been bludgeoned with a wooden block than you could ever get out of Ms Duarte.

There are dark clouds buzzing over the future of the media in this country.

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Anonymous said...

Amazingly enough, on the Times website there are comments to the effect that the newspaper is at fault for assigning a reporter who stammers slightly to speak to Duarte.

Miriam Mannak said...

Great post! *Applauds*! Being a journalist myself, I have become more fearsome with regards to this country's future with regards to the media.