WashPost’s Hot Air on Haiti’s ‘Fresh, Vital Force’

Washington Post editorialist Lee Hockstader wrote a puff profile on Haiti’s thuggish President-elect Michel Martelly (“Haiti’s ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly Turns Presidential,” 4/24/11), whom he depicts as

a fresh, vital force on the political scene, bringing with him energy and a new (mostly untested) crop of advisers, unbeholden to any recent political establishment. Little wonder that in the runoff election, Martelly, who is 50, beat a professorial 70-year-old former first lady 2 to 1.

How can you write about Martelly’s run-off “victory” without noting that both rounds of the election had historically low turnout–not just for Haiti, but for the Western Hemisphere? According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (4/5/11), which follows Haiti closely, Martelly “won only 4.6 percent of the electorate in the first round and 16.7 percent in the second round.” There is indeed “little wonder” that even a candidate with ties to the bloody Duvalier dictatorship who promises to restore the hated Haitian army can get that much support.

Speaking of Duvalier, Hockstader includes the usual spurious equation of the dictator with twice-deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, calling both “divisive former presidents who have recently returned to Haiti from exile and who might face prosecution.” In the most recent election he was allowed to participate in, Aristide got 92 percent of the vote with a 68 percent turnout. So who’s really the “divisive” president?
UPDATE: The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, an intergovernmental organization, calculated the turnout for the 2000 election at 78 percent, which may be a more accurate number.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.