Two press conferences, interruptions of regular programming, scores of discussions, interviews and punditries, professional journalists behaving like tabloid reporters, unlimited coverage spanning weeks for a scandal involving Twitter pictures of a Congressman's penis. "Coverage of the saga occupied 17 percent of the news hole between June 6 and June 12," according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Never have we seen the mainstream media spend that much time covering the kidnapping and selling of American children and women as sex slaves. To be blunt, sex trafficking also involves a man's penis and how much he's willing to pay, and to what extinct he's willing to go in order to satisfy his sexual perversions. Once a little girl is sold into sex slavery, a man uses his penis to force her into submission, to break her little spirit, rob her of her innocence, and crush her dreams and hopes. Scandalous, but since it does not involve a politician's penis, the scandal goes unreported or under-reported.
The media is selective about penis coverage. A politician sending pictures of his penis to women on Twitter is a more sensational story (, and by their coverage...more important), than an international criminal cartel that supplies children to perverted men in the U.S. and around the world. If the news media spent just a tenth of the time they spend on a politician's sex scandal tracking down men in America who are buying children for sex slaves, it could lead to the capture of some of these girls.
"Sex trafficking is truly the 21st century's version of slavery. One of the differences from 19th-century slavery is that many of these modern slaves will die of AIDS by their late 20s," writes the New York Times' Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof in "The Evil Behind the Smiles."
According to a 2001 U.S. research group Protection Project report, "an estimated two million women and children are sold into the sex trade every year." That is a staggering number. "Up to 120,000 women are smuggled into western Europe, mainly from central and eastern Europe, and forced into prostitution. More than 15,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year, many of them young girls from Mexico. As many as 10,000 children aged between six and 14 are virtually enslaved in brothels in Sri Lanka. Some 20,000 women and children from Burma have been forced into prostitution in Thailand."
Think about the agony, heartbreak, and pain these families go through, and the fear and sense of helplessness and hopelessness these girls experience. It breaks your heart to know this is happening right under our noses, and all we get from our news media is a story here and there but nothing equal to the level of coverage devoted in the last month to sex scandals. Well sex trafficking is a sex scandal of mammoth proportion.
Kristof has been figuratively screaming at the top of his lungs to draw attention to this story. He, along with human rights activists, are voices in the wilderness of non-sensational news coverage. To be fair, there are news organizations that devote a segment on trafficking after Kristof or another newspaper journalist writes about it. However, their voices deserve more coverage than a porn star entangled in a sex scandal about Congressman Anthony Weiner's wiener. Are pictures of his wiener more important than images of children and women forced into prostitution?
"No woman or girl should ever have to live in fear or face persecution for being born female," said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in a statement to then Senator Hillary Clinton during her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State. Boxer urged Clinton to take on the issue of human trafficking in her new role, and she has stepped up the U.S. efforts to combat this vile criminal element.
In the last month, the mainstream media has primarily focused on Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child, John Ensign's affair with his staffer's wife, John Edward's love child, and Anthony Weiner's wiener. If the subject of human/sex trafficking was kept in the headlines, it is no doubt that it could put pressure on law enforcement and the State Department to pursue the matter more vigorously, and that's not to insinuate that they're not doing their job. However, we all know what happens if the news media takes on a subject they care passionately about (, like a sex scandal,), the matter is moved up on the priority list just to get it out of the headlines.
Nick Kristof travels the world for the New York Times reporting on human trafficking. He gets a few minutes on MSNBC to discuss his investigations, but not a whole lot of traction elsewhere. During the height of the so-called "Weinergate", while everyone else was tweeting about Congressman Weiner's wiener, Nick was overseas tweeting about sex trafficking.
The only plausible reason why cable and network news shy away from regularly covering an important issue like human trafficking is that they are not willing to devote the financial resources to investigate it. They produce the news on the cheap. They dispatch a couple of reporters to Capitol Hill and the White House to uncover the most melodramatic, scandalous story they can find, and the rest of what they report comes from the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and bloggers.
They leave investigative reporting to experienced newspaper journalists and weekly news programs with high journalistic standards like "60-Minutes." Therefore, it is probably unrealistic to think they are likely to change their ways. That is, not until this crime touches a high-profiled public figure. The media has to do better, and we have to demand better from them.
Some of us will immediately click on a link to read about a man's sexual improprieties; but we delay, ponder, or ignore clicking a link that asks people to sign a petition demanding equal coverage of the selling of human beings into slavery. By not taking action grants them permission to keep doing what they are doing.
America, let us do our part to support those activists and journalists who are out there in the trenches, traveling the world, trying to bring attention to this criminal cartel. We cannot sit idly by and not take a stand to protect our children. Maybe writing a blog or signing a petition is not going to shame the media into shining a brighter light on this particular sex scandal, but neither is not doing anything.
Click here to sign my petition to demand that the news media devote equal time to the coverage of human/sex trafficking as they do to covering the sex scandals of unscrupulous politicians.
E pluribus Unum…out of many, one.