Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hillary's Hair, oh and some rape epidemic

I first saw the story about Hillary Clinton "snapping" at a college student's question in Kinshasa, Congo on the Today Show, and was uber-annoyed with NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell's commentary, at one point saying, "She was exhausted and clearly, some would say, having a had hair day (chuckle)." She then goes on to mention that Clinton was supposed to be dealing with "really serious stuff" in Congo, such as "women who are being used as weapons of war," but had been fielding questions about her husband and his secret mission in North Korea. Thanks, Andrea, for shedding light on the important issues - after, of course, getting a crack in about the secretary of state's hairdo. Sigh.

I became even more annoyed, however, when I found the story on MSNBC's Web site. Here's the lead:
"Hillary Clinton has a message for the world: It's not all about Bill.

The secretary of state bristled Monday when — as she heard it — a Congolese university student asked what her husband thought about an international financial matter."
As she heard it?? Watch the video. Or scroll down - way down - to the 11th paragraph of the article, where the State Department's translation of the student's question is quoted:
"Thank you. Mrs. Clinton, we’ve all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country. The interference is from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton and what does Mr. Mutombo think on this situation? Thank you very much."
Later the student told Clinton he had meant to ask what President Obama thought, not President Clinton. So maybe the student misspoke, or maybe the translator screwed up, but one thing should be clear: Hillary may have lost her cool, but she did not misunderstand - she did not, as the MSNBC article implies, twist the question in her mind in some kind of "Marsha Marsha Marsha!" moment.

But of course using this blip as a lead-in to a saucy story about the Clintons' marital problems sells more ads than a story about real issues, like the one the Today Show somewhat alluded to. A (sincere) thanks to Jezebel.com, which lead me to this Washington Post article about how a U.S.-backed Congolese military operation meant to save women from abusive rebels has exacerbated Congo's rape epidemic:
"An already staggering epidemic of rape has become markedly worse since the January deployment of tens of thousands of poorly trained, poorly paid Congolese soldiers, with people in front-line villages such as this one saying the soldiers are not so much hunting rebels as hunting women."

Almost as important to cover as Hillary's ego, and hair. Almost.


Stephanie Faris said...

Yeah, as always, the press are honing in on silly things and leaving out the real problems in the world...but we have to ask ourselves...is the press to blame? Aren't they just giving the public what it wants?

Amy said...

Good question... I do think the press that takes itself seriously is to blame. (Although the Today Show doesn't exactly focus on hard news...). If you want to be snarky you should work for Comedy Central of write a blog. If you consider yourself a "journalist," I think you have a responsibility to educate your audience in a way that is both factual and interesting/entertaining.

Caroline said...

You're not trying to suggest that sexism still exists are you??? Come on Amy, women got the right to vote decades ago, and feminism died when women achieved equality in the 70's.... right??? What? Rape continues to be a common tactic of war??? Female politicians are judged by their appearance rather than their politics??? Nonsense!!!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin