Ali Bongo, the new, very corrupt Life President of Gabon (as we know a favorite destination of Newsweek’s editors and Jay Z) was in Washington D.C. last week to meet the leader of the free world, Barack Obama. Bongo is quite corrupt, the country is run like a police state and has been led by a Bongo for 44 out of the 50 years of independence. (His father, Omar, had been president for 42 years when he died in 2009.) For the record, Obama, in between smiles, “pressured” Bongo on human rights. But we can assume they definitely discussed Gabon’s generous oil supply to the United States.
The US media hardly took notice of his visit.
There were mild exceptions. ABC News’ “Nightline” did a piece which was decent by American standards. However, they could not help the sensationalism: the reporter spent too much time on Bongo’s ex-wife looking for homes in Los Angeles and Bongo’s relations with comedian Chris Tucker (he regularly holidays in Gabon). Bongo, who does not grant interviews to Western journalists (except those coming from France) thus suffered some negative publicity from the “Nightline” piece.
But few cared about or saw the piece. Who still watches Nightline?
That is until Eric Bolling, a host on Fox Business Channel decided to use Bongo’s visit to race bait President Obama.*
Last Friday, Bolling, introducing a panel discussion on his show, said that Obama was hosting “hoodlums” in the “hizzy” by inviting Bongo to the White House–so soon after rapper Common came to recite poetry in the East Room. Fox News had smeared Common as a cop killer. Bolling also referred to the White House as “the big crib” and photoshopped a flashing gold tooth onto an image of Bongo.
(As for the segment itself, Bolling and his guests (watch it here), spent there time agreeing how necessary it is for the US to maintain relations with unsavory regimes were.
Media Matters, who monitors right-wing media, and blogs called Bolling out. And rightly so. Unfortunately, everyone stopped talking about Bongo who must consider this a PR victory of sorts. Bongo must love America.
* Bolling, btw, has a history of racist innuendo when it comes to Obama: when Obama drank a Guinness on a recent trip to Ireland, Bolling said he was “chugging 40s;” earlier he claimed Obama’s long form birth certificate (which birthers demanded Obama produce) was a photocopy. And this was Bolling, in April this year, discussing Obama’s budget proposal: “How does increasing taxes count as spending cuts in your world, Mr. Obama? Maybe in Kenya, but certainly not here.”