You’re Right David
You are right, I haven’t presented the evidence of my speculation. And I apologize for that. My evidence is thin, to say the least. I have continued to keep researching for more evidence and will present is as I find it. These are my theories and my beliefs about the pass Hugo Chavez is getting by the left-leaning media, as a watcher and reader for over 25 years, and a media member for 10 of them.
I think it is fair to say, given previous coverage of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez by Democracy Now and FAIR, that they are at least tacitly supporting of Hugo Chavez and his government in Venezuela. Whether it is anything more than a “Well, he’s our guy so he gets a free pass” (a la Donald Rumsfeld) I don’t know.
(More after the jump)
I do know that when Chavez took control to “rule by decree” in 2000 and 2007 (powers that GW Bush would love to have here, even if he’s tried using signing statements to get there), there was no coverage on Democracy Now. (I have searched the archives to check my assertion. On a search of month-by-month article listings, there were no articles pertaining to “rule by decree” in regards to Hugo Chavez. Although there were news briefs about the May Day takeover of the oil fields, which is a definite flexing of Chavez’s muscle. If I find more I’ll update this blog.)
I also know that when the Pacifica Foundation, connected to the radio broadcast group that broadcasts Democracy Now, shut the show down over a fight of control and money, FAIR had extensive comment on that (interestingly, via press releases).
Now that a government they are favorable to is shutting down a critical media organization, FAIR is attacking the media organization instead of the government stifling dissent. (just an interesting juxtaposition)
I have read FAIR’s latest piece where they reassert their view of the TV stations as co-conspirators. They use two quotes by leaders of the coup attempt thanking RCTV (and another station that received a renewed license) for their support. One of those quotes was that the coup members had a “deadly weapon: the media.”
Reporting constitutes a deadly weapon? Did RCTV give monetary support or logistical support to the coup? I don’t know. Neither, apparently, does FAIR. Their complaints with RCTV are based on these quotes that they were linked with the coup attempt.
I disagree with their assessment. RCTV did encourage protests against the government (which is more than the MSM did here in the buildup to the Iraq war), they did host opposition groups, they did take out ads against the Chavez government. They did not support Chavez and his government, along with other media outlets. Which, under the tenets of a free society, they have the right to do.
I would also point out that in the days before the coup, Chavez did authorize the police forces to shoot on protesters (from an article in The Nation about the coup, when comparing it to the coup perpetrated on Salavador Allende in Chile. “Allende never turned police and armed supporters against peaceful protesters as Chávez did, provoking a shootout that injured scores and killed more than a dozen.”)
One of the media’s biggest sins just before the coup: they reported on those anti-Chavez protesters being shot, side by side with a Chavez speech.
Since the 2002 coup attempt, no charges have ever been filed. No one has been tried for treason. It can’t be that hard for Chavez to get a conviction, because he stacked the Supreme Court with his allies. Again, much of this is theory. But no one has ever answered me about this. Where were the charges? Any trial by jury? Did Chavez prefer to use the media as a scapegoat to perpetuate a class fear of the “media elites” and use them for his re-election?
How can I be that cynical of Chavez? I’ve lived in the US under 7 years of GW Bush. ‘Nuff said. 😉
(and speaking of coups, do I really need to point out that in 1992, Chavez tried to engineer his own coup attempt in Venezuela? A coup attempt that led to his rise to the Presidency six years later?)
But you raise an interesting point in your final paragraph. A point that I think reinforces my idea that RCTV should not be shut down. We need pluralism in the media. A lot of it!
The mainstream media is corporately owned, and it gives us one, or two, sides to the argument. We need as many media voices out there as possible. That’s why it’s important to watch FOX News (as much as my fiancee hates it) in addition to Democracy Now, and while reading the ABQ Journal and the NY Times and listen to NPR and Air America and reading blogs from left, right and center and listening to podcasts (like Left, Right and Center. Highly recommended!). They all get me worked up enough to throw something at them, but they each have a different point of view.
A point of view that needs to be weighed and compared with others to try and find “the truth.” Interestingly, you’ve touched on what my Masters’ thesis will be: how the media business transformed to “objectivity” not as a way to reach the truth, but as a marketing ploy to put their opposition out of business. (sorry, tangent)
Now compare that to what Chavez is doing in Venezuela. In addition to shutting down RCTV, he has threatened another opposition TV station in addition to wanting to sue CNN International for what they acknowledged as a mistake in their broadcast.
He said that RCTV was “a threat to the country.” He’s wrong. No less than Thomas Jefferson, more of an authority on Democracy than Chavez could ever hope to be, said that he would prefer a free press without a government, than a government without a free press. Mr. Chavez seems to prefer the opposite.
I’m not the only one saying that Chavez is threatening freedom of the press in Venezuela. Look at the other organizations that have spoken out against his move:
- Reporters Without Borders
- Freedom House (which downgraded Venezuela’s press freedoms to “Not Free” as a result of this)
- the Organization of American States
- Human Rights Watch (who went so far as to compare Chavez to Alberto Fujimori, located about halfway down the story)
- the Inter American Press Association
- the Committee to Protect Journalists
- the International Press Institute (which called Chavez’s actions a violation of Article 19 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
And on the other side you have:
- FAIR’s article about RCTV and “spin”
- A whole lot of silence about press freedoms from news outlets that should be leading the charge to secure them.
Amy Goodman has stood up to presidents, despots, dictators and death squads. She reported on the Santa Cruz Massacre in East Timor because she was there and was almost killed by the Indonesian soldiers. Her Drilling and Killing expose on Chevron and the Niger Delta is award winning, even if she refused the award in protest to the media being to cozy with powerful people.
She wrote, in The Exception to the Rulers, “That is one of the media’s most serious responsibilities, to open up the discussion.”
And now Hugo Chavez is threatening to shut the discussion down.