Oct
09
2012

What Are Enemies For?: Iran Sham Helps PBS Smear Chavez

chavez-iran

It's no secret that U.S. media outlets don't have much love for left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.  A PBS NewsHour segment (10/5/12) just ahead of the recent election  showed just how far you could go. Correspondent Ray Suarez opened by calling the election "a watershed moment for the world's second-largest oil-producing nation and a critical supplier of crude oil to the U.S"–I guess we know what makes Venezuela important to the United States. Chavez has "openly antagonizing the United States as he's cozied up to the world's most isolated regimes." And Suarez has an example: He's continued to thwart American efforts […]

Aug
01
2012

The Threat–Again–of Left-Wing Latin American Democracy

You can count on U.S. corporate media to express alarm about the threat posed by left-wing governments in Latin America. Sometimes it's military hype (think Soviet MiGs in Nicaragua), but more typically it takes the form of a generalized concern about certain governments' commitment to democratic ideals. But how do you sound the alarm about left-wing threats to democracy when actual elected left-wing leaders are being removed in anti-democratic coups? That's no easy feat, but some reporters are up to the challenge. In the Washington Post on July 22 (under the headline "Latin America's New Authoritarians"), reporter Juan Forero explains […]

Dec
22
2011

New York Times Finds Noam Chomsky Fit to Print

Left-wing activist and author Noam Chomsky is in the New York Times today: The American linguist Noam Chomsky, a prominent source of intellectual inspiration for President Hugo Chavez, made a new appeal on Wednesday for the release of Maria Lourdes Afiuni, a judge arrested two years ago by the secret intelligence police. If you find it a little surprising that Chomsky's views on international affairs would be reported in the Paper of Record, and if you'd be inclined to believe the Times finds his views newsworthy only because Chomsky is criticizing Chavez (which they've done before)… well, you might not […]

Jun
30
2011

Hugo Chavez's Diabolical Conspiracies

The Washington Post's Juan Forero comments today (6/30/11) on how Hugo Chavez's illness means that he's off television: Chavez governs like the host of a reality show, cameras always rolling as he presides over summits, hectors opponents and warns of diabolical American plots to unseat him. Wherever would he get such ridiculous ideas.

Sep
27
2010

WashPost Editorial Page (Sort of) Tells the Truth About Venezuela 'Debate'

Longtime Hugo Chavez critic Jackson Diehl leads his Washington Post column today (9/27/10) Debate in Washington about Hugo Chavez –to the extent that it exists–generally centers on whether the Venezuelan strongman is a genuine threat to the United States or a buffoonish nuisance who is best ignored. This narrow debate over Chavez's rule in Venezuela is something FAIR has documented on the country's top op-ed pages. Of course, Diehl's point is that Chavez is a genuine threat, so anyone who takes the other position–that he's merely an annoying buffoon–is naive.

Jun
08
2010

Mac Margolis and Chavez's Twitter Repression

Seeing this headline at the Newsweek website– "Chavez Twists Twitter Into Tool of Repression"– means you're likely to read the latest dispatch from the magazine's Latin America correspondent Mac Margolis, who has amassed a stunning record of creating panic about the region's leftist leaders. (See "Newsweekâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s Name-Calling Neoliberal," from Extra!'s January 2010 issue.) Margolis argues that when Iranian protesters used Twitter to criticize their government, it was seen as a "tool of revolution and freedom." Not so in Venezuela, though, where Chavez "hasfigured out how to twist this tool into one of repression." "Far from embracing the democratic spirit of […]

Aug
11
2009

U.S. Media's 'Connection' to Honduras Coup

Foreign Policy In Focus analyst Conn Hallinan (8/6/09) has yet another debunking of "the story most U.S. readers are getting about the coup" in Honduras, being "that Zelaya–an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez–was deposed because he tried to change the constitution to keep himself in power." Calling this dominant media narrative "a massive distortion of the facts," Hallinan patiently explains that "all Zelaya was trying to do is to put a non-binding referendum on the ballot calling for a constitutional convention"–which, Hallinan notes, was "a move that trade unions, indigenous groups and social activist organizations had long been lobbying […]

Aug
09
2009

AP Reports 'Breached Basic Journalistic Principles'

In his latest "Dispatch from the Bolivarian Revolution", blogger Eric Wingerter (BoRev.net, 7/18/09) asks, "Man oh man, how bad does AP reporting have to get before a group of Latin American studies professors from top U.S. universities decides they need to take out a FULL-PAGE AD in the Columbia Journalism Review to respond?" His answer is "Bad bad"–as illustrated in the ad's text: The Associated Press has breached basic journalistic principles with these false reports: [Hugo] Chávez initially suggested the synagogue attack might have been carried out by Jews eager to portray his government as anti-Semitic. â┚¬”AP February 8, 2009 […]

Jul
17
2009

Newsweek's 'Selective Zeal for Democracy'

Newsweek has a rather curious take this week (7/20/09) on the Honduras coup in a short piece headlined "The World Goes Bananas Over Honduras": Poor, hot and fractious, Honduras–the original banana republic–rarely draws a second look from the global community. But on June 28, when President Manuel Zelaya was yanked out of bed by the military and bundled into exile, the world took notice. International leaders unanimously decried the "assault on democracy." The Organization of American States expelled Honduras, the only nation since Cuba to be so disgraced. Venezuela even threatened to send in troops to reinstate Zelaya. But in […]

Jul
09
2009

On 'Disingenuous' Reports of Antisemitic Chavismo

Robin Varghese's 3 Quarks Daily link (6/30/09) to a Boston Review piece purporting that, "over the past four years, Venezuela has witnessed alarming signs of state-directed antisemitism, including a 2005 Christmas declaration by President Hugo Chavez himself," has engendered some homespun media criticism from a commenter logged-in as "Pepito," who argues that "this canard about Chavez and Chavismo being anti-Semitic has been debunked several times in the past, but it comes backs very often." In response to the excerpt's lead example of "15 heavily armed men" who attacked a Caracas synagogue, "held down two guards, robbed the premises, and desecrated […]

May
27
2009

Latin America Pundits Avoid Latin American Opinion

Observing that Latinobarómetro's 2008 report on Latin American public opinion again "went entirely unreported in almost all of the world's major media outlets," with "only small snippets selectively analyzed by writers at the Economist, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Times," Latin American history major Kevin Young's ZNet analysis of the survey (5/27/09) gives some probable reasons: Washington's contempt for the Chávez and Morales governments is readily apparent given frequent Bush administration denunciations and threats directed at the two leaders, U.S. support for violent opposition groups and coup attempts in Venezuela and Bolivia, and its ongoing and well-documented (though still highly […]

May
20
2009

Knocking Down Big Media's Hugo Chavez 'Caricature'

NACLA has Latin America writer Daniel Denvir's review (5/11/09) of a new Bart Jones biography of Hugo Chavez. In it, Denvir's reasons for having "never been a big reader of biographies"–"the product of our most unfortunate and idol-indulging tendencies"–give way to the fact that some leaders' "images become proxies for larger ideological, social and cultural debates–often to the point of caricature." Denvir's contention that "a good biography can take on this echo chamber residuum and tell a more reality-based story" becomes that much more urgent when, "in the case of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, this is a politically necessary task": […]

May
01
2009

Washington Post's War Against Chavez Continues

The Washington Post editorial page regularly slams Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, so it was no surprise to see it do the same on April 30. Their real point, though, was to suggest that Barack Obama's desire to change the tone of the U.S.-Venezuelan relationship wasn't going to work: The administration's strategy–to open up a constructive dialogue with Venezuela and avoid being cast as Mr. Chavez's Yanqui foil–is reasonable; it is also the same strategy as was tried, unsuccessfully, by the previous two administrations. It's hard to imagine that anyone believes that the Bush administration's Venezuela policy amounted to "constructive dialogue." […]