Hilary Clinton’s Congo Outburst and the Media
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Hillary in the Congo|
Mrs. Clinton’s answer on Monday has quickly become the No. 1 sound bite from her trip. Her whole seven-nation Africa tour, which has had quite serious intentions, like combating Congo’s appalling rape epidemic and raising her personal profile within President Obama’s administration, may end up being reduced to this: “Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state, I am. So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband.”
Almost immediately, her showdown with the student became a media phenomenon, with a level of attention on an American in Kinshasa perhaps not seen since the so-called Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in 1974.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides have been notably frustrated that this brief flash of anger, or undiplo-speak, has come to overshadow a trip that took weeks of planning and was intended to strengthen America’s ties to some of its most strategic allies on the continent.
No matter the issues she was talking about — encouraging good governing, ending Africa’s wars, lifting women up from their lowly position in a place like Congo. The interest in this trip, it seemed, was not about the problems facing Africa. It was about her.
As one journalist covering her trip put it: “She is a celebrity. We have a celebrity secretary of state. When you have a celebrity, you get celebrity coverage.”
That’s the reality of modern media. And, like it or not, this is a big story. It’s yet another reason secretaries of state and vice presidents have to be on guard at all times rather than letting fly whatever thought happens to be crossing their minds at the moment.
As to the emerging meme that the media is playing up this sensationalism while ignoring the real story — the horrific plight of women in Africa — it’s nonsense. Of course the latter is much more important. But it’s not news.