Posted by: sean | June 5, 2005

CNN and genocide

From time to time there are really important stories that for one reason or another don’t get the media attention that they ought to. Recently, the secret Downing Street memo’s near lack of coverage in the America press comes to mind. However, while that story certainly deserves to be covered, there is another story that has had very little coverage in the states.

Thomas Lang at CJR Daily has written a good little piece about CNN’s 25th anniversary, in which he talks about their coverage of Rwanda in 1994 and their current coverage (or lack thereof) of the genocide taking place in Darfur, Sudan.

Lang is right. With the exception of Kristof from the New York Times, no one seems to be interested in this story. Lang quotes a survey from the International Crisis Group and Zogby International, which states:

Some 84% of respondents said the U.S. should not tolerate an extremist
government committing such attacks, and should use its military assets, short of
inserting U.S. combat troops on the ground to protect civilians, to help bring
them to a halt. There would appear to be much greater public backing for America
to play a leadership role in stemming this catastrophe than has been the
conventional wisdom in Washington. This includes 81% who supported tough
sanctions on Sudanese leaders who control the militias, 80% who backed
establishing a no-fly zone over Darfur, and 91% who said the U.S. should
cooperate with the International Criminal Court to help bring to justice those
accused of crimes against humanity.

These numbers speak well for Americans. They show that it’s possible to overlook racism and apathy in order to muster the popular push for the “political will” that we were told made Washington decide to abandon 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus to their bloody fate at the hands of machete wielding murderers. I find it particularly interesting that 91% of those polled were in favor of backing the ICC in order to bring the Sudanese génocidaires to justice, since the US stance has so far been the complete opposite.

What is needed, it seems, is more coverage – especially on television – so that the American public and their representatives are forced to see the killings in Darfur while they’re trying to eat their Sunday night supper. Lang thinks that CNN et al. should get their priorities straight and that there’s no excuse for not covering this disaster. I couldn’t agree more.


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