Update: Charlie D’Agata has since issued an apology, which you can watch at the bottom of this article.
CBS foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata is receiving blowback for describing Ukraine as “relatively civilized, relatively European” in comparison to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan on a Friday broadcast.
Reporting from Kyiv, which is currently under siege by the Russian army, D’Agata described what he was witnessing. “Tens of thousands of people have tried to flee the city, there will be many more. People are hiding out in bomb shelters,” he said.
“But this isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades,” he commented. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to chose those words carefully, too – city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”
Clearly, D’Agata did not choose his words carefully enough. His labeling of the warfare in Ukraine as something you “wouldn’t expect” from a “civilized” country like Ukraine prompted swift backlash online.
Imraan Siddiqi, the executive director of Muslim grassroots advocacy and civil rights organization CAIR Washington, expressed his criticism by simply tweeting the clip with the caption “Civilized”.
“Matter of Fact” host and “Real Sports with Brian Gumbel” correspondent Soledad O’Brien also reacted on Twitter.
“‘Relatively civilized, relatively European': when the white dude reporter knows he’s being kinda racist but carries on anyway. Whew,” she wrote. “Can we please diversify news coverage and get rid of this crap. Please.”
“This isn’t even OANN or Fox,” said Qasim Rashid, human rights lawyer and host of “The Qasim Rashid Show.” “This overt white supremacy is on CBS. Absolutely disgusting dehumanization of people of color.”
Journalist Negar Mortazavi pointed out that D’Agatas words were “simultaneously insulting” on multiple fronts: “Simultaneously insulting Ukrainians by calling them “relatively civilized” and insulting Iraqis & Syrians & Afghans by suggesting they are “uncivilized”. @CBSNews”
Many commented on the irony of D’Agata using the phrases “with all due respect” and “I have to choose my words carefully.” As Smithsonian Magazine editor Ted Scheinman put it, “Now I’m wondering what words he actually restrained himself from saying.”
Watch D’Agata’s apology below:
Read more of the reactions to his initial broadcast below: