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MacCallum Grossly Distorts African Orphan Problem

Reported by Judy - October 25, 2006 -

Martha MacCallum apparently doesn't know her way around the internets. If she did, she couldn't possibly have made the gross error that she did Tuesday (October 24, 2006) in discussing Madonna's plans to adopt a child from Africa.

I nearly said that MacCallum made a gross error while "reporting" on Madonna's plans to adopt a child from Africa, but "reporting" is too generous a term journalistically for what MacCallum was doing.

During a discussion with the "A-List" panel, MacCallum said, “There’s 900,000 orphans in Africa. This child, though, is not an orphan. His dad is living in that village.”

Had MacCallum dared to risk her manicure by using the keyboard of her computer, she could have found a search engine (try Google, Martha), typed in "Africa + orphans," and come up with any number of "hits" (FYI, Martha, that's geek talk for a list of articles that have those terms in their content, and in this case the number was 3,470,000), and then clicked on (use that little flat device that has a cord running to your computer, called a "mouse") some of them to read the information they contained about "Africa + orphans."

Had MacCallum found the time in her eight-hour work day to prepare for her one-hour show, she might have learned:

--The number of orphans in Africa is not 900,000 but upwards of 34 million, based on an estimate made in 2001 by the World Bank.
--The term "orphan" in Africa applies to children who have lost either one parent (a single orphan) or both parents (a double orphan). See the World Bank report, or any of the other 3 million Google hits on "Africa + orphans." If MacCallum didn't like the information from the World Bank, she could have chosen a website from several church-affiliated orphan organizations.

But MacCallum was not out to provide information about Africa and orphans. Had she been interested in doing that, she might have mentioned the name of the village where the child was from, instead of referring to it as "that village." She might have asked what the child was doing in an orphanage if his father could afford to take care of him.

After failing to provide accurate information, MacCallum turned to panel guest Walt Frazier, former pro basketball player, who wisely called the Madonna adoption controversy, "Much ado about nothing. I'm more concerned with the deaths that’s going on, the genocide that’s happening right now in Africa that no one is talking about rather than all this attention that Madonna is getting for trying to save one kid in Africa.

In the interests of transitioning to her next panel member, MacCallum agreed, noting "That’s a good point. It’s easy to get sucked into the celebrity story of the moment when there are so many dire situations going on with the children there." Nevertheless, she continued to be sucked into the celebrity story of the moment and went on to David Oblon, billed as a constitutional lawyer.

Oblon, whom Fox News did not describe as an expert on adoptions, said, "I think the best interests of the child is to be raised by his father. This father wants him and is able to do so.”

Whereupon MacCallum might have asked, if the father is able to take care of him, what was the child doing in an orphanage?

Fox News' agenda here is to bash any and all celebrities other than NASCAR drivers, country western singers, or actors who make movies about Jesus and make anti-semitic remarks when they are arrested for drunk driving. Fox News wants to look anti-elitist. It wants to create the impression in its viewers' minds that there is an "elite" in this country that is keeping them down and that elite is not made up of large corporations and right-wing politicians, but liberal actors and singers.