First, the good news: one of the most brutal dictators in world history is rotting away behind bars.
After months of protests, the three-decade leader of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, was snatched from the seat of power on April 11. More than a million Sudanese took to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, to celebrate the end of a particularly brutal era in Sudanese history.
You may recall al-Bashir’s campaign of rape, slaughter, and torture in the Darfur region of Sudan during the early 2,000s. The atrocities claimed as many as 400,000 lives, leading the International Criminal Court to issue two warrants for his arrest.
Following al-Bashir’s removal from power the country’s security forces and its citizen-led revolution jostled for power, but both parties reached an agreement in July to rule jointly until elections in 2022.
While the people of Sudan have a long and uncertain road ahead, al-Bashir’s overthrow (and subsequent compromise by the country’s military) marks one of the most significant international political developments of the past decade.
Which brings us to the bad news. Unless you’re a head of state, CIA analyst, or ravenous world news junkie, you probably haven’t heard much, if anything, about the Sudanese uprising. The American mainstream media have remained virtually silent on the situation (I learned of the developments during a conversation with a Sudanese Uber driver in Chicago who was surprised I knew the name of his country’s capital, let alone the identity of its now-defunct dictator).
One would think such a narrative an easy sell to an American media establishment that has long claimed to champion the causes of oppressed people everywhere.
After all, there was a media feeding frenzy following the 2009 arrests of a group of trouser-wearing women in a Sudanese nightclub. And it wasn’t so long ago that the media devoted hour upon hour of fawning coverage to the Arab Spring, a string of revolutionary activity that took place across the Middle East during Obama’s Presidency.
Oddly, however, the press’s enthusiasm for human rights in the most oppressed part of the world seems to have up and, well, disappeared. A simple Google search for “Sudan revolution” turns up just a handful of articles from major U.S. outlets in the first few pages. The majority of coverage is international, which isn’t all that surprising; as anyone alive today can attest, Donald Trump has destroyed the American news media.
To be fair, the media haven’t been honest brokers of public discourse for quite some time. But the press’s obsession with toppling Trump has reached unprecedented lows, even exceeding its campaign to protect his predecessor.
“In total from June 2009 to January 20, 2017, Obama averaged around 4.9 percent of the combined daily airtime of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. From June 16, 2015 to present, Trump has averaged 15 percent, three times as much.”
And lest you think these numbers the result of Fox News’ fawning, consider that The Australian Broadcasting Corporation found that on any given day the current President devours more than half of U.S. cable networks’ coverage. The biggest offenders? CNN and MSNBC, which can spend up to two-thirds of their airtime attempting to convince millions of Americans they are mentally ill for not electing a woman who labeled half the country “deplorable.”
Even worse, actual news is rarely, if ever, dispensed in all these hours of resistance navel gazing. The vast majority of this “reporting” is meaningless drivel, a hodgepodge of palace intrigue, conspiracy theories, and outright lies. Who is being served by suggestions, proffered by supposed serious analysts, that Trump could end up killing more people than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao combined, or that his decision to keep the flag lowered to half-staff until August 8 following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton was, knowingly or not, a boon to neo-Nazis who associate the number “8” with the letter “H,” therefore translating August 8 to “Heil Hitler?”
The lunacy is such that even some old-school (and openly liberal) mainstream media icons are crying foul. The New York Times’ Nick Kristof last year bemoaned the “all Trump, all the time” narrative dominating our news cycles, telling CNN’s Trump-obsessed Brian Stelter: “The upshot is that we risk not covering a lot of really important things at home and around the world.” And long-time CNN talk-show host Larry King threw shade at his former network by declaring “It’s all Trump. There are no news.”
The power granted to the press in our Constitution was done so to ensure a check on government power, not facilitate an informational coup by an increasingly unhinged collection of conspiracy theorists who happen to have studios in Manhattan. Our media apparatus has become the equivalent of a psycho ex-boyfriend when it comes to this administration: stalking, degrading, and intimidating the President, as well as his friends and family, out of juvenile jealousy.
Ironically, our modern media apparatus operates a great deal like al-Bashir, lobbing false accusations and destroying lives and reputations for political expediency.
Who knows what other major world events escape our notice? One thing, however, is certain: the more the world knows, the greater chance the Sudanese people have of taking back their country.
Unfortunately for them, as long as Trump is President they will find no ally in the American press.