Alex Perry, Time Magazine’s Africa bureau chief, wrote a highly offensive and inaccurate piece essentially calling for the recolonization of the Congo by China. Perry wrote of the former Belgian colony:
Independent Congo gave the world Mobutu Sese Seko, who for 32 years
impoverished his people while traveling the world in a chartered
Concorde….His death in 1997 ushered in a civil war that killed 5.4 million people
and unleashed a hurricane of rape on tens of thousands more. Today AIDS
and malaria are epidemics.
This gross simplification of Congolese history was promptly rebutted by FAIR’s Julie Hollar, who pointed out that:
Independent Congo didn’t give the world Mobutu; that gift belongs to the
U.S. and Belgium, who supported
the overthrow and assassination of democratically-elected Patrice
Lumumba and helped prop up the horror that was Mobutu for decades
Perry did not take kindly to Hollar’s critique and launched into a giant tirade against her and everyone else on the commenting board. Just check out the following gem from Mr Perry, a man so clearly obsessed with his image as a war-hardened ‘real reporter’ that he has to mention it at every given opportunity:
As for this lame idea that I, and the “mainstream media”,
are part of some giant conspiracy to lie, cover up, dissemble etc. in
the name of, I imagine, the “military industrial complex” or perhaps the
CIA, what do you think happens here? Do you think I have a controller
with a husky voice who directs my coverage by meeting me in badly lit
subterranean car parks? Grow up. People who do my job die sometimes.
I’ve known three myself. Do you really think we’d take those risk to
tell lies? Your cheap and half-arsed conspiracies are insulting and
infantile. I challenge any one of you–just one–to actually go and do
some reporting in Congo, and then come back to me. Until then, your
comments are pretty worthless.
After several more back and forths, Perry then gets into it with the whole FAIR team and all its readers declaring that:
Your corporation [FAIR] exists prime facie to insult the mainstream press.
It’s whole foundation is bias.
You want more? I can do this all day, and you guys need to learn.
Perry is then called out by a clearly knowledgeable reader for his failure to give an accurate oversight of Congolese history, stating the following devastating points that render Perry’s article completely void:
1. Independent Congo did not give the world Mobutu. The US did.
2. Mobutu did not impoverished the Congo alone… Check out the
Congressional Budget Office report on Cobalt in 1981
3. There is no civil war in the Congo but a war of aggression by two of
US and UK allies, Rwanda and Uganda. Mobutu’s death in 1997 did not
bring about conflict. Congo was invaded by Rwanda and Uganda before his
death in 1996.
4. If you are going to quote IRC number, you should state that 5.4
million died in the Congo from 1998 to May 2007 according to the IRC. If
we both know that the war of aggression on the Congolese people started
in 1996, and still continue `till today, your moral intellect will let
you know we have passed the number 6 million.
Perry then goes completely mental, telling the unfortunate reader that his spelling is poor and doesn’t know anything, then fails to give any actual counters to his points. Clearly exasperated and thoroughly embarrassed, Perry leaves the chat with the following riposte:
And to you all – for this will be my last post – is this it? Really? Do
you actually spend your lives like this: wrapped in ignorance and
whining prejudice, surrendering to poor logic, dumb conspiracy and
defensive pomposity, and spelling like 4-year-olds? This isn’t a press
watchdog. This is a collection of… well, you know what I think.
While Perry should be given credit for actually going to the places he reports on (although I do think many of the bloggers he despises so badly would do the same if they had the opportunity), his lack of historical understanding is simply shocking. Perry has yet to respond to ANY of the facts that clearly counter his version of history and has instead decided to hurl insults and wave his manhood around on a commenting board. It’s a pretty sad spectacle and Perry should be ashamed of himself.
Thankfully, the writers and readers over at FAIR are an educated and civil bunch (despite Perry’s loud protests that they aren’t) and have done a marvelous job of undressing Perry and exposing the bias that courses through his writing and reporting.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.