One of the knocks on CNBC has been that it puts an emphasis on its on-air talent’s beauty over true journalistic prowess. Perhaps that perception could change after the network’s effort to cover the Egyptian turmoil with Erin Burnett, host of CNBC’s “Street Signs.”
On Sunday night’s special coverage of the Egyptian crisis, Burnett explained to viewers how she and her crew made their way from New York City to Cairo via Dubai. The most difficult part of the trip, she said, was the journey from the Cairo airport to the city’s NBC bureau.
“Once we did that, we were then met with another hurdle which was the curfew,” Burnett explained. “To actually get somebody that was willing to drive and go around that is a challenging thing. We soon saw why – our journey should have taken 30 to 45 minutes from the airport to where I’m standing right now at our NBC bureau in Cairo. It took more than three hours to get here and we saw some pretty amazing things.”
She described the scene on the streets of Cairo between the airport and the bureau as a chaotic, with many taking protective measures into their own hands.
“It is something when you see your first tank in a situation like this that in what we’re seeing in Egypt we saw that within the mile of the airport with the military and then from then on, gangs of young men, young men, middle-aged men with knives, bats, golf clubs – pretty much anything and they were very careful to say, and by the way their English was great, willing to talk to us,” she continued. “They said, ‘Look, we’re not here looting. We’re protecting our property from looters, our family from looters. We can’t sleep at night because there’s no police, no rule of law and we have to protect our families.’ They had some very interesting things to say to us. One of them said, ‘Egypt is better than this.’ It’s amazing how many spoke English.”
However, Burnett did explain how she and her crew were in danger on two occasions, first having to evacuate their vehicle because of gunfire and having a warning shot fired upon them for going too fast in their car by the Egyptian military.
“We saw 30 groups of men like this, many of them with shot guns that they were throwing around as cavalierly as if you were eating a doughnut while you were hanging out on street. We did hear some gunfire. We had to get out of our car for a while because of that. When we were finally approaching the bureau after so many delays, we actually had a warning shot fired at us from the Egyptian military because we were going too fast in our car. So, that in and of itself was a rather shocking experience and makes you really realize what’s going on in this country right now.”