Sep 24 2009

USA Today, AP Mislead on Honduran Coup

This week, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya returned to Tegucigalpa–though not to office. Unfortunately, press accounts are still misreporting the story behind his ouster, relying on those who supported the coup to supply the explanation for their actions. Some of the most misleading coverage has appeared in the Associated Press dispatches that have run in USA Today. The paper’s September 22 edition ran this from the AP: The legislature ousted Zelaya after he formed an alliance with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and tried to alter the nation’s constitution. Zelaya was arrested on orders of the Supreme Court on charges […]

Sep 01 2009

Rerun in Honduras

Coup pretext recycled from Brazil ’64

The pretext for the Honduran coup d’état is nothing new. In a remarkable replay, bogus charges that the corporate media in the U.S. and Europe have repeated endlessly without attempting to substantiate—that Honduran president Manuel Zelaya sought to amend the country’s constitution to run for another term—are virtually identical to the sham justification for the 1964 coup against Brazilian president João Goulart. The Brazilian coup, depicted at the time as a victory for constitutional democracy, kicked off a series of extreme right-wing military coups against democratically elected governments throughout the Southern Cone of Latin America and beyond. Brazil was turned […]

Mar 01 2009

Due Process Mugged

You’ve seen it everywhere. It made the cover of Newsweek, the front page of the New York Times‘ “Week in Review”, and the CBS, NBC and ABC news: Manual Noriega’s mug shot, looking just like the criminals at the end of each “Dragnet” episode after Sgt. Joe Friday had brought them to justice. But what you didn’t often see is an acknowledgment that the release of such mug shots is highly unusual, and may threaten Noriega’s already slim chances of getting a fair trial. The Miami U.S. Attorney’s office claims to have released it “under pressure from the press,” according […]

Mar 01 2009

I’m Not Rappaport…. I’m Valdez

Extra! usually complains about media outlets relying on the same sources again and again, but KTTV-TV in Los Angeles may have gone too far in the opposite direction. Seeking a source to comment on the failed October 1989 coup against Manuel Noriega, the station called what they thought was the Panamanian consulate. In fact, it was the home of Kurt Rappaport, a 22-year old prankster. Rappaport, pretending to be an anti-Noriega Panamanian diplomat, “Arturo Valdez,” was invited to be interviewed, and showed up at the studio sporting a false moustache. A sound bite from the 10-15 minute “Valdez” interview was […]

Nov 01 2007

Imperial Mythology

Venezuela, Hugo Chávez and U.S. media

When it comes to U.S. press coverage of Venezuela, anything goes if it puts President Hugo Chávez and the movement that brought him to power in a bad light. But among the tangle of misinformation that passes for Venezuela coverage, journalists often tip their hand, telling readers something true: Chávez and the political movement that has gained several electoral victories in Venezuela are a threat to U.S. interests in Latin America. This is the real reason why Venezuela must be treated harshly, even if it means twisting facts: “Chavismo represents a major threat to American interests in the region, which […]

Jan 01 2007

Invading Grenada

Selling the modern era’s first ‘pre-emptive’ war

Grenada warehouse (DoD/Wikimedia)

Urgent Fury, carried out 20 years before Operation Iraqi Freedom, has faded from public and political memory. Yet there is much to be remembered, as there are many cogent parallels between Grenada and Iraq.

Dec 01 2006

Unseparate and Unequal?

[Note: this piece is a sidebar to “The Repeatedly Re-Elected Autocrat.”] “Hugo Chávez is practicing a new style of authoritarianism,” Javier Corrales wrote in Foreign Policy (1-2/06). “Chávez has updated tyranny for today.” While conceding that Venezuela is formally democratic, Corrales went on to list some of the most common accusations against Chávez, emphasizing the supposed lack of separation of powers: “Chávez has achieved absolute control of all state institutions that might check his power…. If democracy requires checks on the power of incumbents, Venezuela doesn’t come close.” This is a common accusation against Chávez; he’s “eliminating all checks on […]

Nov 01 2006

Wrong Numbers

Distorting Venezuela’s record on poverty

One charge that U.S. media have hurled at Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez—that poverty has worsened under his administration—seems tailored to alienate the populist leader from his natural supporters. Isn’t Chávez a leftist? Aren’t his policies pro-poor? progressives may wonder. What about all that oil wealth? Is this really true? No, it’s not. But that doesn’t stop the media from printing misinformation about poverty in Venezuela. It isn’t that opinion writers and editorial editors used false statistics or made errors in their calculations—in most cases, they used the Venezuelan government’s own statistics, as many editorials pointed out. Instead, they used old […]