As part of our summer fundraiser special series, during our Live Q&A a Facebook Live viewer asked Paul Jay why he started The Real News.
PAUL JAY: I made this film, Return to Kandahar, in 2002. I went to Afghanistan, out of this North American bubble. There’s one moment—and in some ways I hadn’t really connected these two things until right now—when we’re in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. It’s our last day, we’re leaving. And we’re outside this mosque, this gorgeous blue mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif. And there’s this older beggar, and a young beggar. The young beggar comes too close to the older beggar’s territory, and [the older beggar] takes his crutch, and he splits the little kid’s head open. He’s maybe 12 years old. Like really, the skull’s open. And nobody does anything.
So we run over to him, get the kid, try to cover up his head with the blood gushing out, drive him to the hospital. And we get to the hospital, and the doctor starts putting a bandage around his head. And through the translator I said, aren’t you going to stitch it up? He looks at me and he says, we don’t have suture. You don’t have suture? No, we don’t have suture. I said, what do people do? He says, well, if people can afford it they go to the pharmacy and buy suture, and they bring it down and then we do it. I said OK, wait, wait.
So we run to the pharmacy, we get the suture, and he does it. And the kid would have died, for sure. Because the infection would have—there’s no way. Because there’re also no antibiotics. So the kid would have been dead. Anyhow, the story goes on.
But I returned from Afghanistan and see the utter destruction of this place. The story of, so many stories like this little kid. And I can see what The Real News maybe could be. And I got to decide, do I want to make my film and do what I really want to do? Or do The Real News? Which I don’t want to do, but I can see it. And if it works, it could be really meaningful. So I mean, I’ve learned one thing in my life, that if I don’t do the most meaningful thing I can do that I see, I ain’t happy, even though the alternative looks like it would be more fun. Even kind of more personally fulfilling. So we did it, I did it because I had to do it. I could see it. And once you see it you got to do it.