‘New York Times’ Congo coverage goes from ‘F’ to ‘D-minus’

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Jeffrey Gettleman’s article in today’s NYT is a modest improvement over his failure yesterday.  He has stopped hero-worshipping the Rwandan-supported M23 armed force that seized the regional capital of Goma, even noting that the group “has a long history of killing civilians.”  

He also finally reported that the Rwandan/M23 attack is triggering a humanitarian disaster that will certainly add to the 5 million death toll in the region, a point he left out of yesterday’s dispatch.  He briefly quotes an official with the relief agency Oxfam who warns that the renewed fighting will spread cholera and other diseases.

On the other hand, he neglects to mention that Rwanda is supporting and quite probably commanding the M23, and that the United States has so far refused to come out and condemn Rwandan involvement.

Easily the most valuable part of the article is the heartbreaking photograph that accompanies it, which shows thousands of Congolese refugees fleeing the fighting. You can make out people in the front ranks of the crowd who are carrying their mattresses on their heads and backs.

Gettleman did not interview any of these people.  Only a single Congolese is quoted in the article: the prime minister, who is presumably in the far-off capital, Kinshasa. Isn’t Gettleman interested in listening to people who are so poor they can’t bear to leave their mattresses behind?

(My own view of the latest tragedy in Congo is here.) 

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