Covering Africa Through Celebrities, Exhibit Eleventy Million

NBC reporter Ann Curry’s fawning interview with actor Ben Affleck (NBC Nightly News, 5/19/10), about his celebrity activist work in the Congo, is downright embarrassing:

CURRY: Why do you pick the place that people think is actually one of the worst places in terms of the number of atrocities, in terms of the level of suffering, one of the worst places on Earth?

AFFLECK: I really do see tremendous hopefulness. I’m really moved by the power of folks to find solutions to their own problems. The Congolese sense of kind of strength and self-sufficiency and resilience.

CURRY: And he’s seen it in four trips since 2007.

AFFLECK: They’re rebuilding the engine.

CURRY: Realizing local organizations can make the difference, hat in hand…

AFFLECK: I went to a lot of other folks who were experts and who knew a lot more than I did, and I said, “Can you help me?”

CURRY: …convincing major philanthropists to fund his multimillion-dollar Eastern Congo Initiative so he can make efforts like Christine’s.

AFFLECK: How long was the fighting with the…

CURRY: He’s a policy activist in the making.

AFFLECK: There’s almost no sort of law, judicial authority. You need to build some kind of a political constituency before policymakers take action.

CURRY: Boy, you come with a lot of passion. Boy! I’m like–I’m against the wall here.


CURRY: If there was a wall back here–I mean, no, no. Don’t apologize. You’re so passionate about this.

Really, why would you pick One of the Worst Places on Earth as the focus of your activism? The Nightly News certainly isn’t too interested in paying attention to such a place, as their story on Affleck marks the fifth segment they’ve devoted to the Congo in as many years. Two of those stories, by the way, were about gorillas. Sadly, this is par for the course for the Congo.

The video, which captures the moment even better than the transcript, is here.

About Julie Hollar

Managing Editor of Extra! Magazine
Julie Hollar is the managing editor of FAIR's magazine, Extra!. Her work received an award from Project Censored in 2005, and she has been interviewed by such media outlets as the Los Angeles Times, Agence France-Presse and the San Francisco Chronicle. A graduate of Rice University, she has written for the Texas Observer and coordinated communications and activism at the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas. Hollar also co-directed the 2006 documentary Boy I Am and was previously active in the Paper Tiger Television collective.