Media's Valentine to Lovers: That Shiny Rock On Her Finger Is Blood on Your Hands

February 14th, 2007 2:32 PM

Diamonds don't cause conflicts in Africa, bands of armed thugs do. But you wouldn't know that if you followed the media's slant on "conflict diamonds," which, much like stories on gun control, often blame the object instead of the evil person misusing it.

My colleague Julia Seymour dealt with the media's portrayal of the pet liberal issue in today's Balance Sheet newsletter:

The diamond has come to symbolize love, but in the wake of the film, the news media have been holding it up as a symbol of corruption and carnage.

“It came from the heart of the earth … A stone so rare men will do anything to possess it. And all who touch it are left with blood on their hands,” the “Blood Diamond” trailer said.

It didn’t take long for media accounts to echo the movie trailer.

“[T]hat gift under the tree this holiday may have blood on it. We'll go to Africa where wars are fought over and funded by conflict diamonds,” said CNN anchor John Roberts during “This Week at War” on Dec. 17, 2006.

“[D]iamonds kept the guns and the blood flowing,” stated ABC reporter David Wright during Dec. 13, 2006 “Nightline”

CBS’s Katie Couric asked “How can the very symbol of happily ever after be painted by so much human suffering?” before quipping, “All that glitters is not good.”

Released on Dec. 8, 2006, “Blood Diamond” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly. It is set in war-torn Sierra Leone in the 1990s and promotes the idea that diamonds were responsible for the conflict. DiCaprio and Hounsou are both up for Academy Awards for their roles in the film.

From its release, the news media treated the fictional anti-diamond-industry movie as fact, ignoring the agenda set by the film’s director Ed Zwick and regularly consulting activists as experts.

Read more here.

Subscribe to The Balance Sheet, the e-mail newsletter of the MRC's Business & Media Institute, here.