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March 1, 2014

MSNBC puts Czechoslovakia back on map

Czech Republic remains a mystery to news networks, social media

There is nothing like a crisis in Europe to show how little the American news media knows about even the basics of Europe. Cable news channel MSNBC has aired a map of Eastern Europe showing Czechoslovakia sharing a border with troubled Ukraine. Czechoslovakia hasn’t existed since 1993. The error was pointed out on social media site Twitter by user Alberto Riva (@Albertoriva), a journalist who lives in Brooklyn.

This is not the first time that the Czech Republic has been the subject of map trouble. Cable news outlet CNN for years showed a map with Switzerland taking up the geographic space of the Czech Republic and also declined to respond to e-mails for comments or corrections. But bloggers were not shy. “Poor old Prague used to be a nice city, before CNN dropped Bern on it,” someone posting under the name Solomon said.

CNN eventually fixed its map to put the Czech Republic in the right spot, but made one of the bordering countries Iraq, obliterating Germany from Europe.  Rival Fox News also had mixed up Iraq and Egypt, which is perhaps a little less embarassing.

The Czech Republic was also in the news after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 when Twitter users began to conflate Chechnya and the Czech Republic. “As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect,” Czech Ambassador to the United States Petr Gandalovič said in a statement.“The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities — the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.”

Film star Sharon Stone went to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2005 to introduce the film Broken Flowers.In her long speech she made several references to the recent war we had all been through and praised the Czech strength and resilience. She was glad to say that he country was finally at peace, and then then she struck a pose like the Statue of Liberty, holding up her hand in a peace sign. Since the last war in the area had been World War II, it seemed she was also referring to then-recent fighting in Chechnya.

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