Ben Affleck, an actor who himself admitted that he was “not a Congo expert” was given star treatment on Sunday’s This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos. Earlier this week, the liberal actor testified before Congress on the war-torn nation of Congo, and the folks at ABC couldn’t have been happier to obtain an exclusive interview with him.
Host George Stephanopoulos cheered how “Ben Affleck scored some bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill this week...The Oscar winner’s traveled there nine times for his Eastern Congo initiative. And as he told Martha Raddatz, that mission has changed his life.”
Raddatz, who was just announced as the new co-host of This Week, beamed at how “of all the celebrity stars who use their celebrity to focus cameras on a favorite cause, Ben Affleck, who dedicated himself to the war-torn Eastern Congo, is one of the most well-respected.”
ABC then played clips of two U.S. Senators heaping praise on Affleck before Raddatz continued with the fawning interview:
But Affleck doesn't just talk about it, he has been there nine times with his organization, Eastern Congo Initiative… What would you say to Americans about why they should care about this?... I think I heard something on your website, that your life didn't have much meaning until you did this.
After pointing out that Congo has made significant progress in recent years, the ABC reporter hyped how “Affleck and Feingold say that the U.S. should press the young Congolese government to do more, like hold fair elections and fix the police.” It must be nice for the liberal actor to get such good free press on a subject he even admits to not be an expert on.
The promotional interview ended with Raddatz excitedly asking Affleck what his Oscars plans will be, giving the ABC host opportunity to hype Affleck’s wife’s newest movie: “His wife, Jennifer Garner, in the Oscar-nominated movie "Dallas Buyers Club."
See relevant transcript below.
This Week w/ George Stephanopoulos
March 2, 2014
10:50 a.m. Eastern
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Ben Affleck scored some bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill this week when he joined the U.S. Special Envoy to Congo Russ Feingold in a bid to leverage his star power for the aid to that war ravaged country. The Oscar winner’s traveled there nine times for his Eastern Congo initiative. And as he told Martha Raddatz, that mission has changed his life.
MARTHA RADDATZ: Of all the celebrity stars who use their celebrity to focus cameras on a favorite cause, Ben Affleck, who's dedicated himself to the war torn Eastern Congo is one of the most well-respected.
JOHN MCCAIN: You are eminently qualified to give us the benefit of your experience and knowledge.
ED MARKEY: We admire your acting, but we admire your activism even more.
BEN AFFLECK: I am, to state the obvious, not a Congo expert. I'm an American working to do my part for a country and a people I believe in and care deeply about.
RADDATZ: The numbers from Congo are mind-boggling. 5 million dead since 1998. Almost 3 million still displaced from their homes last year.
AFFLECK: Targeted investment and promising Congolese-driven solutions can and will drive economic growth and will create jobs.
RADDATZ: But Affleck doesn't just talk about it, he has been there nine times with his organization, Eastern Congo Initiative.
AFFLECK: It's not that people don't care about Africa or about terrible crises like this, it's just like you don't to want hear about it. It's so vile the way it’s presented. It's so difficult. And you can't take it in. How many millions of people. I can't even understand that. It really struck me. Why is this child's life worth any less than my own children? Why is this woman’s life worth any less than my own wife?
RADDATZ: What would you say to Americans about why they should care about this?
AFFLECK: This is who we are as Americans. We believe in helping others who are down, who are suffering, who are being exploited. Those are our values and we are weary because we have been involved in several conflicts overseas, that have maybe sapped some of our will and we have become perhaps a bit disillusioned with engaging overseas. But I don't think that we should give up on our core values.
RUSS FEINGOLD: It's really a model for the way the United States needs to approach this. He's given it sustained attention. And that's my motto for what the United States is trying to do here.
RADDATZ: I think I heard something on your website, that your life didn't have much meaning until you did this.
AFFLECK: Before you engage in some issue, people sit down and say this is what you're doing? You’re just being a celebrity you’re not giving back in the world? I thought I haven't done anything substantial, aside from my work that I can look back on and say I contributed to society in a way that was commensurate with the blessings that I have.
RADDATZ: There is rare good news out of the Congo after more than a decade of fighting; a major rebel group surrendered last November. And a special all-Africa-led U.N. Peace keeping team has had success reducing the violence. Still, Affleck and Feingold say that the U.S. should press the young Congolese government to do more, like hold fair elections and fix the police.
FEINGOLD: Without those things, yes, it becomes very fragile, and we can lose the progress we’ve made.
AFFLECK: It’s t’s not about spending money. It's not going to cost our government a lot of money. It’s getting the attention of the secretary and the president and the senate and the house to say this is a priority for us. That in and of itself cans kind of move mountains.
RADDATZ: Affleck will continue his work, but with a pause for tonight's Oscar ceremony. Let me ask you one question that you weren’t asked on capitol hill? What are you doing for the Oscars?
AFFLECK: My wife's presenting, I am not. But I'll probably sneak along with her. And then we'll have a date night and go to a few of the parties and have a good time.
RADDATZ: His wife, Jennifer Garner, in the Oscar-nominated movie "Dallas Buyers Club."
AFFLECK: Dallas Buyers Club. My heart is with my wife’s movie, which she's so great in it.
RADDATZ: Your prediction, senator?
FEINGOLD: I'll be watching it on television.
AFFLECK: Senator you should come with me.
FEINGOLD: Now you're talking.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Of course it will be tough for Affleck to top last year, when his film Argo won best picture.