Jean-Jacques Cornish

Gonzo journalist became a grumpy old man

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“How The Hell Did This Happen,” by P.J. O’Rourke

It is a sobering realisation having a cult satirist from one’s youth become a grumpy commentator about to notch up the three score plus ten.

P.J. O’Rourke is an obligation like Meryl Streep. Their name appears on the dustcover or marquee and one has no option but to by the ticket or the copy.

Some offerings are better than others. Nevertheless everyone’s a winner.

Trying to make sense of Donald Trump’s election one is initially best advised to read A.C. Grayling.

P.J. O’Rourke doesn’t proffer reasons for this debacle like Grayling does. 

He makes pronouncements. “America is experiencing the most severe outbreak of mass psychosis since the Salem witch trials of 1652”.

His conclusion that the last remaining superpower found its teacher repulsive and turned to the fat bully in the back row is the ceiling closing line.

So bad is Trump that  is this libertarian, Republican reptile endorses Hillary Clinton. He calls her the second worst thing that could happen to America.

“She wrong about everything, but she’s wrong within normal parameters,” he says.

Arch proponent of gonzo journalism, O’Rourke was wont to take to the road to write his 16 books, no fewer than three of which have appeared in the New York Times bestseller list.

This time, he fulminates mostly from his couch.

I find his exhaustive treatment of all the candidates, despite their being administered the coup de grace by the voters, makes the book drag.

However his world weariness and sense of having had a gut’s full resonates.

O’Rourke’s conclusion that 2016 was not an election in the U.S.A. but a rebellion: a “War of incivility”, strikes a chord.

His observation that the outcome was a victory of the have-nothings against the arrogant elitists is not a million miles away from Grayling.    2018-09-22

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.