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  1. #1
    breaking out of my cocoon SearchingforPeace's Avatar
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    Default Live-Aid and the Terrible Truth

    Spin magazine republished its piece from 30 years ago investigating what happened to the money from Live Aid last year and I just saw it today.

    Live Aid and the Terrible Truth

    I knew a little of this, but found the entire thing fascinating.

    The new introduction is quoted, the article is very detailed and interesting.


    One night at dinner in late 1985, a friend talked about Ethiopia being in a civil war. Neither I nor anyone else at the table had heard that. It hadn’t been covered in the American press. This was just six months after the Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London had directly and indirectly raised over $100 million dollars for famine relief in the African nation. The next day I asked my sister Nina, an assistant at SPIN then, to research this, because if the country was at war, it would surely be difficult to move aid around and get it to people who needed it.

    In those days we didn’t have the Internet, so research was done by going to the library and trawling through endless spools of microfiche — film of newspaper pages from around the world. That evening she came into my office ashen faced — she had discovered it was clear, and very well evidenced, that this famine, the awful depictions of which had pulled on the world’s heartstrings, was man made, by government planes deliberately napalming rebel farms.

    Every year Ethiopia experiences some degree of drought, the worst ones bringing famine. But the country historically dealt with this. Some years were worse than others. In 1984 the famine that inspired first Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and then Live Aid, was very bad and people were dying of starvation. But the cause was less nature than cynical genocide. A fact apparently so easy to discover that an editorial assistant barely out of college did so in a matter of hours at the library.

    I asked Bob Keating, a superb young investigative reporter who had just started working with us, to look into this for a story. The assignment was simple — all this money had been raised, where was it going, was it actually doing good?

    He discovered it was not doing good, but, horrifically, unimaginably, the exact opposite. The Ethiopian dictator, Mengistu, until then deadlocked in the war, was using the money the west gave him to buy sophisticated weapons from the Russians, and was now able to efficiently and viciously crush the opposition. Ethiopia, then the third poorest country in the world, suddenly had the largest, best equipped army on the African continent.

    By this time we had all seen the pictures and TV footage of Bob Geldof, the figurehead of Live Aid, bear hugging and playfully punching Mengistu in the arm as he literally handed over the funding for this slaughter. It was on TV now alright, but as an endless, relentless reel of heroic Bob Geldof highlights. He drenched himself in the adulation and no one begrudged him it, until our investigation exposed the holocaust that Live Aid’s collected donations had help perpetrate on the Eritrean independence fighters.

    Most damningly, Keating reported that Geldof was warned, repeatedly, from the outset by several relief agencies in the field about Mengistu, who was dismantling tribes, mercilessly conducting resettlement marches on which 100,000 people died, and butchering helpless people. According to Medicins Sans Frontiers, who begged Geldof to not release the money until there was a reliable infrastructure to get it to victims, he simply ignored them, instead famously saying: “I’ll shake hands with the Devil on my left and on my right to get to the people we are meant to help.”

    In the course of preparing our story, we tried to interview Geldof, who in the beginning, perhaps expecting more of the same media worship, was apparently willing to talk, but as soon as he and Live Aid realized what we knew and were going to ask him about, he declined. For more than a month we kept calling and faxing requests for his comments. As we were nearing our deadline, we Fedex’ed him written questions and two cassettes, every day for two weeks. Two cassettes because I urged him to record his answers on two machines, send us one cassette and keep the other as a record, so there could be no dispute about quoting him out of context.

    He never replied, and our report, in July 1986, shocked the world. That is not an overstatement. It comprehensively exposed the fraudulent use of the charitable money by unmistakably the world’s most brutal dictator, and the naive, hubris-drenched, unwitting complicity of Live Aid and Geldof.

    After the story broke, Geldof lied, claiming we published it to punish him because he wouldn’t grant us an interview. That sounded as ridiculous as it was, and, more crucially, was a pretty thin rebuttal for the serious issues revealed in the article.

    At first our story was met with a terrific backlash. We were vilified by a disbelieving media, who felt we sensationalized the situation in Ethiopia to sell magazines. Our music industry advertisers pulled their ads. We went on the offensive and I personally did hundreds upon hundreds of interviews, with anyone who would talk to me. Every interview concluded with my saying, “You’re a news organization, look into it yourself!” Many did, and then more, and slowly the tide turned as they began to realize we were right. Live Aid had, through its missteps, exacerbated the already terrible humanitarian crisis.

    Eventually, the Wall Street Journal ran an Op-Ed exonerating our reporting and commending us for being brave to uncover the real story, unpopular though it was.

    This week, SPIN is republishing the stories that we ran then over a several-month period, starting with the first article today, which is the 30th Anniversary of the concerts in 1985, and continuing with our follow-up investigation published in September ’86, and the publication in the August ’86 issue of a statement Geldof distributed to the media (but not to us), which we then rebuffed, point by point.

    Once again, 29 years later from the original publication of these articles, we have asked Bob Geldof to respond.


    — Bob Guccione Jr., founder of SPIN, July 13, 2015
    Quote Originally Posted by Archilochus
    The fox knows many things--the hedgehog one big one.
    And I am not a hedgehog......

    -------------------

    Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers" not "blessed are the conflict avoiders.....

    9w8 6w5 4w5 sx/so

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    “Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

  2. #2
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Didn't he (Bob Geldof) get knighted on top of it all? And I'm sure he won't be responding this time either.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

  3. #3
    breaking out of my cocoon SearchingforPeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    Didn't he (Bob Geldof) get knighted on top of it all? And I'm sure he won't be responding this time either.
    But it made a lot of people feel good about themselves, lol....

    I did find it an interesting window into pre-internet journalism.... today we have too much information on our hand, yet the media is empty in so many ways. Then they had too little information, but actually could do real investigative journalism.....
    Quote Originally Posted by Archilochus
    The fox knows many things--the hedgehog one big one.
    And I am not a hedgehog......

    -------------------

    Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers" not "blessed are the conflict avoiders.....

    9w8 6w5 4w5 sx/so

    ----------------------

    “Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

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    I don't know all of the facts behind this but to address @SearchingforPeace's observation on journalism in the internet age, I'd add that what have today is the equivalent of a mountain of op ed pieces with very little in the way of hard investigative journalism; discerning what is real investigative journalism from vanity opinion pieces is a chore many people are unwilling or unable to do

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    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anaximander View Post
    I don't know all of the facts behind this but to address @SearchingforPeace's observation on journalism in the internet age, I'd add that what have today is the equivalent of a mountain of op ed pieces with very little in the way of hard investigative journalism; discerning what is real investigative journalism from vanity opinion pieces is a chore many people are unwilling or unable to do
    I'd say that there is a lot of what amounts to plagiarism too or the regurgitating of the same story with little in the way of a change over again and again, the reason being that running a successful blog or facebook newsfeed has become a way to make and easy living through passive income, its not real reportage but its how people are getting their news now, and I'm no sanctimonious exception in this respect I'd have to say, maybe I go and research it more afterwards but I read about it first from Business Insider or Unilad or something like that.
    Likes asynartetic liked this post

  6. #6
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SearchingforPeace View Post
    But it made a lot of people feel good about themselves, lol....
    I tend to look upon it as being more to do with desperation, Bob himself and a lot of others wanted to do something now, they didnt want to accept any of the realpolitik of the situation and I'm pretty sure that a lot of them did go on record afterward saying that they new it was spent on bribes and the like to attempt to get food through.

    Its a bit like that hokey stories in films like Eddie Murphy's guru movie, not sure of the title, but the guy goes on TV and tells the old story about the guy running up and down the beach throwing starfish back, a cynic says to them why bother, you cant save them all, what difference does it make and the guy carries on saying it makes a difference to "this one" and "this one" and "this one".

    Was it Roosevelt who said something about you shouldnt find an excuse to do nothing because you can only do something instead of everything? I'm not sure of the exact quote.

    There's a good book out on Kindness too, which looks at it as a modern day taboo, its treated as a dangerous think you've got to police in yourself and elect politicians to police in society, otherwise everyone will turn into tramps on the take with hands out and do nothing else with their time. On Kindness by Adam Philips. Check it out. There's nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself now and again.

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