Worldwide AIDs Progress: No Credit to Bush, No Matter What

E-mailer and frequent NB commenter Gary Hall sent me a link to a July 30 LA Times article about how worldwide AIDS deaths are down 10%.

In discussing the improvement, it's hysterical in one sense, but very sad in another, to watch how reporter Thomas H. Maugh II studiously avoided using the word "abstinence" (the A-word), which does not appear even once in his entire piece.

Just to be sure no reader could possibly leave the article thinking that the current administration has contributed to an overall improvement, Maugh pointed to the increased prevalance of AIDS in the US African-American community, and gave antagonistic spokespersons free rein to criticize an alleged lack of urgency without a countervailing response.

First, here's a sample of Maugh's A-word avoidance (noted in bold):

Condom use and prevention efforts increased in many countries and adolescent sexual intercourse declined in some of the most heavily affected regions, the report says.

"In a surprisingly short period of time, there has been a tripling of prevention efforts in some countries," said Dr. Paul De Lay, director of evaluation for UNAIDS.

..... Condom use among people with multiple sexual partners is increasing, and young people are waiting longer to have sexual intercourse, the report says. In seven of the countries most affected by the pandemic -- all in Africa -- the percentage of young people having sex before the age of 15 has dropped from 35% to 14%.

I wrote back in April that Bush Administration anti-AIDS efforts in Africa were achieving remarkable progress, that few were acknowledging it, and that even fewer were inclined to give the administration even a tiny amount of credit, let alone admit that relatively inexpensive abstinence education has been a major factor in improvements on that continent.

My take then on journalists' refusal to properly credit Bush certainly holds true with Maugh's reporting:

Now I get it: George Bush isn’t getting much praise because he has violated a central tenet of Old Media concerning sexually transmitted diseases: Condoms uber alles. Journalists’ seemingly innate hostility towards anything that might be labeled a faith-based initiative doesn’t help either.

Maugh didn't even bother to give out the name of the President's initiative, PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), even though it is almost certainly the single largest source of worldwide anti-AIDS funding.

The LA Times writer then falsely, and in my opinion cruelly, turned the worldwide improvement into a domestic indictment, even quoting a tax scofflaw who presumably still owes Uncle Sam millions:

But those gains abroad come at the expense of African Americans, according to another report issued Tuesday by the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles.

..... Only four countries outside sub-Saharan Africa have a higher prevalence of HIV infection than the estimated 2% among blacks in the U.S., he added. Blacks account for 1 of 8 Americans but 1 of 2 HIV infections in the country.

"U.S. policymakers seem to be much more interested in the epidemic in Botswana than the epidemic in Louisiana," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, chief executive of the National Action Network. "This is an unnecessary and deadly choice. Both need urgent attention."

C'mon, Mr. Maugh (and those quoted). Does anyone with a brain seriously believe that there's a shortage of education about AIDS in this country (unlike the others) -- in homes, in schools, in churches, on TV, or in the rest of the media? With all of that, whose fault is it if people won't do what's necessary to avoid contracting HIV and AIDS?

Maugh's work is of a piece with what appears to be a disgraceful Old Media determination that George W. Bush not receive any credit of any kind for any accomplishment during his administration. If it happens, don't report it. If someone else reports it, minimize its importance. If that's not enough, don't give any credit, and be sure to point to supposed "failures" elsewhere, even if you have to pull them out of your posterior.

I am beyond sick and tired of it. This is one of many areas where historians will have their work cut out for them setting the record straight. Contemporaneous Old Media reports certainly haven't.

Cross-posted at

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