On Sudan, it’s MTV v. the White House

On Sunday, NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof called it “a national embarrassment that MTV is more outspoken about genocide than our president.” Could this outrageous claim really be true? Here’s the tale of the tape:

MTV Acknowledges Darfur Atrocities Actually Constitute Genocide, White House Backtracks

White House: During his trip to Sudan last week, Undersecretary of State Robert Zoellick “backed away from the Bush administration’s assertion that the mass killings and village burning amounted to genocide.”

MTV: “Find out how you can take action and help stop the genocide in Sudan.” — Promo for MTV’s Darfur action website.

MTV Encouraging Others to Help Stop the Atrocities in Darfur, White House Tepid

White House: President Bush “has refused to confront Sudan forcefully or raise the issue himself before the world. Incredibly, Mr. Bush managed to get through recent meetings with Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and the entire NATO leadership without any public mention of Darfur.” (Nicholas Kristof, 4/17/05)

MTV: A short list: in recent weeks, college network MTVu has run regular documentaries, PSAs, and news featurettes on Sudan, “broadcast 24-hours of commercial-free programming…entirely devoted to the Sudan crisis and student response” on the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, and sponsored three student correspondents on a week-long trip to Darfur as well as Sudan events at local campuses.

MTV Supports Bipartisan Legislation to Stop the Killing, White House Still Thinking About It

White House: President Bush “hasn’t even taken a position on the Darfur Accountability Act and other bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback to put pressure on Sudan.” (Nicholas Kristof, 4/17/05)

MTV: “Support the Darfur Accountability Act of 2005. Help ensure that the perpetrators of gross human rights violations against the Sudanese people in Darfur are brought to justice.” — MTV call to action.

The Verdict: Kristof is right. This is a national freakin’ embarassment.