Accuracy in Media

Take a beautiful actress and a U.N. adviser and what do you get? “The Diary of Angelina Jolie & Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa.” MTV, usually known for rock videos and raunchy TV reality shows, aired this on September 14, as the U.N. World Summit began in New York and socialist Third World nations were preparing to shake down the U.S. for billions of more foreign aid dollars. Toeing the U.N. line is considered good journalism.

Jolie, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador who makes more than $15 million a film, began by commenting, “extreme poverty means not having enough food to feed your family.” But Jolie didn’t hold herself responsible for this problem. Instead, it was the fault of “rich nations [which] have seen fit to look away from extreme poverty,” she claimed. And the richest nation in the world? She didn’t have to name the U.S. as the main culprit because everybody knew it.

To the rescue came Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, “the world’s leading expert on extreme poverty,” she said.

He’s paid quite well for that. The U.N. tells us that Sachs makes $75,000 a year as a special adviser to the U.N. Secretary General. That’s in addition to his work at the Earth Institute of Columbia University and consultant to various foreign governments.

Jolie suggested using mosquito nets to protect people from the mosquitoes which carry malaria. But she should have urged the return of DDT to kill the mosquitoes. That would save millions of lives. Another idea was to use fertilizers to grow more crops. That’s a good idea, too. But the use of fertilizer and mosquito nets is not what the U.N. World Summit was all about. That gathering was designed to force the U.S. through global taxes and other measures to cough up an additional $845 billion in foreign aid.

“I’m certain the stories in this special will inspire viewers the same way these experiences have inspired me, and I’m hopeful that increased awareness of the issues in Africa will bring about a new wave of progress and activism among young people everywhere,” Jolie said in a statement.

Unfortunately, the MTV special only raised awareness in a superficial way, in order to convey the impression that the U.N. was doing something worthwhile.

What MTV should do is air a special featuring George Ayittey of The American University, who has written many books, including Africa Unchained, on how to lift Africa out of poverty. “Africa is poor because Africa is not free,” he says. Foreign aid, he says, makes matter worse.

He recently appeared on the Bill Moyers public TV show Wide Angle. Moyers, a liberal, seemed genuinely impressed by Ayittey’s approach. It is worth noting that Ayittey comes from Kenya, which Jolie and Sachs visited for a couple of days to film their MTV special.

The MTV special came at a time when the U.N. was suffering a major meltdown in its image.

A September NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that two-thirds of the public lacked confidence in the world organization.

Specifically, 44 percent had “not very much confidence” in the U.N. and 21 percent had “no confidence” at all. That adds up to 65 percent. 

Nevertheless, the document produced by the U.N.’s World Summit and endorsed by President Bush proposes a dramatic expansion in U.N. power, authority and resources. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton was accused by the media before the summit of seeking hundreds of changes in the document. But very few of them were adopted.

In the end, under pressure from the media and the radical non-governmental organizations, the U.S. buckled. Bolton did not prove to be the savior that conservatives had hoped for. Sachs is laughing all the way to the bank. Poverty pays.

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