Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a seven-state visit in Africa. These are exactly the types of visits that the news media pays as little attention to as possible. At least unless something happens to catch their attention. Something silly, insignificant and utterly beside the point, but makes for a great soundbite.
Because the soundbite is supreme. It rules the news cycle.
Here it is:
Haw-haw! Oh, that Hillary! Why won’t she cut poor ol’ Bill a break?
But did anybody notice the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged 17 million in assistance to combat the plague of rape going on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and was visibly moved by the story of one woman whom had been gang-raped when she was eight months pregnant?
GOMA, Congo — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came face to face with the consequences of the brutality in eastern Congo on Tuesday afternoon when she met a Congolese woman who had been gang-raped while she was eight months pregnant.
The fetus died, Clinton said, the woman was gravely injured and since there was no hospital nearby, villagers stuffed the woman’s wound with grass to keep her from bleeding to death.
“I’ve been in a lot of very difficult and terrible settings,” Clinton said later. “And I was just overwhelmed by what I saw.”
“It is almost impossible to describe the level of suffering,” she said. Eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, she added, “is just horrific.”
Did the substance of Clinton’s trip to the Congo get the same sort of notice as the superficial coverage of her terse exchange with the student?
Not so much.
Women are victims of sexual violence and brutalized daily in the Congo, “the rape capital of the world” the United Nations calls it and the Secretary of State’s dramatic face-to-face meeting is overshadowed by a silly question that was probably lost in translation.
Who gives a rip about a bunch of African women being brutalized and victims of horrific sexual violence when Hillary verbally lays the smackdown on some poor kid who admitted he was nervous when he asked his question.
Black women are raped in the Congo? BOR-ING! What does she think about Bill showing her up with his little field trip to North Korea? That’s what’s really important. Stories about a bunch of Black women being raped by Black men? Ho-hum.
At least that’s the way it seems. It’s no wonder people hate the news media so much. They’re too busy trying to make them giggle when they should be trying to help them think.
Then again, my days in Journalism 101 were quite some time ago. Maybe I’m the one who doesn’t understand how the news works anymore.
Maybe people these days would rather be amused like the Fox News anchor by a stupid story that will be forgotten tomorrow than be disturbed by an epidemic of rape. For a real bad time, put the words, “Congo, rape” in a search engine and click. Just be prepared to have your eyes opened and your stomach turned.
But don’t worry. The news media is here to take your mind off the depressing stuff and amuse you some more. Just sit back and let them entertain you.