Nov
01
2006

The Myth of the Muzzled Media

Following Hugo Chávez’s September 20 speech at the U.N., which included a mocking reference to George W. Bush as “the devil,” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton told reporters “the real issue” was that Chávez was not “giving the same freedom of speech” to Venezuelans (Daily News, 9/21/06). Editorials condemning Chávez and approvingly citing Bolton’s accusation appeared in several newspapers (e.g., Augusta Chronicle, 9/22/06; Omaha World-Herald, 9/22/06), but one pundit, John McLaughlin of television’s McLaughlin Group (9/22/06), challenged Bolton’s claim, responding on air, “Well, Ambassador Bolton, maybe they already have freedom of speech.” Seconding McLaughlin’s point, columnist Mark Weisbrot, […]

Nov
01
2006

Imperial Projection

Fearing Chávez’s carrot, ignoring Bush’s stick

The horror with which U.S. television personalities and newspaper columnists have responded to the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s skewering of George W. Bush at the United Nations is just the latest in a long series of media portrayals of Chávez as a destabilizing force in the hemisphere. While op-ed pages scarcely mention the Bush administration’s continued interference in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, they regularly proffer unsubstantiated claims of meddling by Chávez, failing to recognize the hypocrisy of their selective indignation. Ironically, the op-ed pages’ accusations of international meddling by the Chávez government are often inconsistent with the […]

Nov
01
2006

Stay Obedient, of Course

Editor's Note

Interviewed about Iraq on the October 22 edition of ABC’s This Week, George W. Bush declared, “Listen, we’ve never been ‘stay the course.’” This was not a slip of the tongue but a White House line, as evidenced by Bush advisor Dan Bartlett’s assertion that “it’s never been a ‘stay the course’ strategy” on CBS’s Early Show the next day. The trouble is that Bush and his spokespeople had constantly insisted that their Iraq strategy was “stay the course.” Just one example, from a December 15, 2003 press conference: “We will stay the course until the job is done. . […]

Nov
01
2006

Corrupt Data

Taking on the claim that Chávez is on the take

Accusing Latin American politicians of corruption is one of the most common ways to discredit them. President Hugo Chávez himself came into office accusing the entire political class in Venezuela of corruption, which made him very popular with many voters, who were tired of seeing their country slipping into poverty despite its enormous oil wealth. It should thus come as no surprise, now that Chávez has been in office for nearly eight years, that Chávez’s opponents at home and abroad should use this charge against him. A recent Newsweek article (7/31/06), for example, stated that Chávez has “fanned the same […]

Nov
01
2006

Letters to the Editor

The Mideast Is Not Pinball I am a great admirer of your organization and publication, but I must comment on your August 2006 Update with regard to the front-page story on Israel [“Mideast Blame Game: Leading Papers Ignore Israeli Contribution to Conflict”]. Bias in reporting the news is always fair game and your criticism is generally on the mark. However, different standards apply to editorials. Your article treats the editorials as if they were news stories. You are entitled to disagree with the conclusions of the editorial writers, in particular their opinion that the recent conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon […]

Nov
01
2006

Gullibility Begins at Home

NYT accepted false reassurances on Ground Zero safety

The collapse of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001 spewed an estimated 1.2 million tons of toxic and caustic dust into the air, enveloping thousands in a billowing cloud containing asbestos, fiberglass, lead and highly alkaline concrete, among other toxins; the dust settled thickly in the area around Ground Zero and seeped into apartments and offices. The fires at Ground Zero burned through December, releasing a constant stream of toxins into the air and into the lungs of thousands of rescue and cleanup workers. Nearly five years later, on September 6, 2006, the New York […]

Nov
01
2006

Myth: Chávez is Anti-American

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to "The Repeatedly Re-Elected Autocrat."] New York Times Latin American reporter Larry Rohter (5/20/05) called Hugo Chávez “stridently anti-American,” one of hundreds of instances of U.S. news reporters branding the Venezuelan president with that epithet. Chávez says it’s not true; he says such reporters are confusing his distaste for the Bush administration with anti-Americanism. “The country is one thing—we have lovely relations with the people,” Chávez told the Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth (9/25/05). “We have many ties between Venezuela and the United States—economic and social,” said Chávez, clarifying his views on the Bush administration: […]

Nov
01
2006

Ground Zero's Undocumented Victims

[Note: This piece is a sidebar to Gullibility Begins at Home.] On January 11, 2002, the New York Daily News reported that immigrants and labor rights groups charged that hundreds of undocumented workers were hired to clean toxic World Trade Center dust out of buildings near Ground Zero with no training in hazardous waste disposal and no warning of the potential health effects. “Most were not given respirators or other safety equipment,” reported the Daily News’ Albor Ruiz and Greg Gittrich, “and some who brought their own said bosses would snatch them away for themselves.” Some were never even paid […]