No, that headline isn’t fake news. Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl dedicated his August 20 column to arguing that President Trump has been “in more ways than one, enabling famine” everywhere from Nigeria to Yemen due to the constant media attention he’s drawn towards other topics.
Diehl began by noting how July saw “eight large private U.S. relief organizations formed an unprecedented alliance to call Americans’ attention to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II: 20 million people at imminent risk of famine in four countries, including millions of children the United Nations says are ‘acutely malnourished.’”
He noted that “the two-week campaign didn’t work” and cited the lack of news media coverage as the problem. Instead of actually taking blame, Diehl acted as if the media have been held hostage by the President and forced to ignore this story:
For the most part, the two-week campaign didn’t work. Officials from the groups say they raised about $3.7 million and got more coverage than they would have working separately. But there was no eruption of public interest; news stories about the famine remain few and far between. The reason is fairly obvious: The continuing Trump circus sucks up so much media oxygen that issues that otherwise would be urgent — such as millions of people starving — are asphyxiated.
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Once he finally laid out the situation in countries like Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen in which civil war and terrorism have plagued them, Diehl let it slip that “[t]he worst thing about this situation is not the lack of attention, or even the absence of adequate relief funding.” He also credited Congress with devoting $990 to help these famines.
“That’s where the real responsibility of President Trump lies, too. His pathological need to focus attention on himself has created the vortex into which public discourse on vital issues such as this disappears. But his larger offense has been his love affair with the despotic regimes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are largely responsible for creating — and perpetuating — the food and cholera crises in Yemen,” Diehl complained.
He concluded by not talking about radical Islamic terrorism or something else being to blame, but Trump’s inability to make this a primary focus of his administration and thus the media’s as well (as if he’s forcing the media to cover/not cover stories):
Two weeks ago, the U.N. Security Council finally took action on this problem, unanimously adopting a statement calling on “all parties” to “facilitate access for essential imports of food.” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley issued her own broadside, saying that “we must hold governments and armed groups blocking access accountable.” Unfortunately, as Charny puts it, “that is not actually U.S. policy, if you look objectively at what is going on.” In fact, Trump is, in more ways than one, enabling famine.
As this space has discussed on numerous occasions, the media have their own agendas and are perfectly able to cover/not cover stories without the President’s permission. It’s called agenda setting. Nonetheless, Diehl wants to make it seem like this President has forced them into an unethical position.