Dana Rohrabacher’s Honduran Adventure

Today’s New York Times (12/20/10) brings the latest from the WikiLeaks cables, an interesting piece about how Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) went to Honduras after the coup to praise the new government and hopefully arrange business deals for his friends.

Unfortunately the Times bungles the story of the coup itself:

Honduras had grabbed international headlines starting in June 2009, when its president at the time, Manuel Zelaya, was detained and then sent into exile, based on a fear by other elected officials there that he was scheming to remain in office despite a one-term limit in Honduras’ Constitution.

Mr. Rohrabacher, challenging the stand taken by some Obama administration officials, ridiculed suggestions that Mr. Zelaya’s removal was a coup d’├ętat, and used his visit to Honduras to praise government leaders there who played roles in removing Mr. Zelaya, including members of the Supreme Court and the president of the Honduran Congress, Juan Orlando Hernandez.

This is pretty typical–presenting the coup from the point of view of coup defenders and promoters, who had “a fear” that Zelaya was “scheming” to extend his term.

If the Times was really interested in what WikiLeaks tells us about Honduras, they could report–as Robert Naiman did here–that U.S. officials in the country had determined soon after the coup that the arguments being made to defend its legitimacy were without merit.

Back to the Times article, which allowed Rohrabacher to portray himself as a guy standing up for freedom and democracy, as he is wont to do:

Mr. Rohrabacher, who was a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as the United States financed “freedom fighters” in Central America to challenge a perceived communist threat, has long cast himself as a defender of democratic causes in the region. The turn of events in Honduras offered him a chance to return to that role.

“He warned at the danger of allowing ‘caudillos’ or strongmen, like Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to assume control,” the State Department summary of his visit said, recalling his remarks to the new leaders in Honduras.

So a guy who worked for Reagan is positioning himself as a defender of democratic freedom in Latin America–by supporting a coup against an elected president. Are readers supposed to be laughing at Rohrabacher’s hypocrisy, or at the Times for presenting this drivel without challenging it?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.