Record Of The Newspaper
By Stephen Lendman
20 June, 2007
define "yellow journalism" variously as irresponsible and
sensationalist reporting that distorts, exaggerates or misstates the
truth. It's misinformation or agitprop disinformation masquerading as
fact to boost circulation and readership or serve a larger purpose like
lying for state and corporate interests. The dominant US media excel
in it, producing a daily diet of fiction portrayed as real news and
information in their role as our national thought-control police gatekeepers.
In the lead among the print and electronic corporate-controlled media
is the New York Times publishing "All The News That's Fit To Print"
by its standards. Others wanting real journalism won't find it on their
pages allowing only the fake kind. It's because this paper's primary
mission is to be the lead instrument of state propaganda making it the
closest thing we have in the country to an official ministry of information
Singlehandedly, the Times
destroys "The Myth of the Liberal Media" that's also the title
of Edward Herman's 1999 book on "the illiberal media," the
market system, and what passes for democracy in America Michael Parenti
calls "Democracy For the Few," in his book with that title
out earlier this year in its 8th edition.
In his book, Herman writes
about the "propaganda model" he and Noam Chomsky introduced
and developed 11 years earlier in their landmark book titled "Manufacturing
Consent." They explained how the dominant media use this technique
to program the public mind to go along with whatever agenda best serves
wealth and power interests. So imperial wars of aggression are portrayed
as liberating ones, humanitarian intervention, and spreading democracy
to nations without any. Never mind they're really for new markets, resources
like oil, and cheap exploitable labor paid for with public tax dollars
diverted from essential social needs.
In "The Myth of the
Liberal Media," Herman explains the "propaganda model"
focuses on "the inequality of wealth and power" and how those
with most of it can "filter out the news to print, marginalize
dissent (and assure) government and dominant private interests"
control the message and get it to the public. It's done through a set
of "filters" removing what's to be suppressed and "leaving
only the cleansed (acceptable) residue fit to print" or broadcast
electronically. Parenti's "Democracy For the Few" is democracy-US
style the rest of us are stuck with.
Books have been written on
how, going back decades, the New York Times betrayed the public trust
serving elitist interests alone. It plays the lead and most influential
media role disseminating state and corporate propaganda to the nation
and world. In terms of media clout, the Times is unmatched with its
prominent front page being what media critic Norman Solomon calls "the
most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA" -
more accurately, anywhere.
Examples of Times duplicity
are endless showing up every day on its pages. The shameless Judith
Miller saga is just the latest episode of how bad they can get, but
she had her predecessors, and the beat goes on since she left in disgrace.
Through the years, the Times never met a US war of aggression it didn't
love and support. It was never bothered by CIA's functioning as a global
Mafia-style hit squad/training headquarters ousting democratically elected
governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and key officials,
propping up friendly dictators, funding and training secret paramilitary
armies and death squads, and now snatching individuals for "extraordinary
rendition" to torture-prison hellholes, some run by the agency
and all taking orders from it.
CIA, as Chalmers Johnson
notes, is a state within a state functioning as the president's unaccountable
private army with unchecked powers and a near-limitless off-the-books
secret budget we now know tops $44 billion annually. It menaces democratic
rule, threatens the Republic's survival and makes any notion of a free
society impossible as long as this agency exists. Not a problem at New
York Times. It worked closely with CIA since the 1950s allowing some
of its foreign correspondents to be Agency assets or agents. It no doubt
The Times is also unbothered
by social decay at home, an unprecedented wealth disparity, an administration
mocking the rule of law, a de facto one party state with two wings and
a president usurping "unitary executive" powers claiming the
law is what he says it is making him a dictator. It practically reveres
the cesspool of corrupted incestuous ties between government and business,
mocking any notion of democracy of, for, or by the people. That's the
state of the nation's "liberal media" headquartered in the
Times building in New York.
The New York Times
v. Hugo Chavez
This article focuses on one
example of Times duplicity among many other prominent ones equally sinister
and disturbing - its venomous agitprop targeting Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez this writer calls the leading model democratic leader on
the planet even though he's not perfect, nor is anyone else. That's
why after "Islamofascist terrorists" he's practically "enemy
number one" on the Times hit list and Washington's. Besides Venezuela
being oil rich, Chavez is the greatest of all threats the US faces -
a good example that's spreading. His governance shows how real social
democracy works exposing the fake American kind.
That's intolerable to the
masters of the universe and their leading media proponent, the New York
Times. It always plays the lead media role keeping the world safe for
wealth and power. So on June 6, it hauled out former Peruvian president
and first ever indigenous Andean one in the country's history - Alejandro
Toledo (2001 - 2006). His electoral campaign promised a populist vision
for Peruvians, to create new jobs, address dire social needs of the
country's poor, and end years of corruption and hard line rule under
Alberto Fujimori, now a wanted man on charges of corruption and human
Toledo was little better,
failing on all counts pushing the same repressive neoliberal policies
he was elected to end. He was in tow with Washington's agenda of privatizations,
deregulation, IMF/World Bank diktats, debt service, and overall contempt
for the essential social needs of his people. He was also tainted with
corruption, and during his tenure violence was used against protest
demonstrators, criminal suspects in prisons were beaten and tortured,
and dozens of journalists were threatened or attacked for criticizing
local politicians or him.
No problem for the New York
Times that published his June 6 op ed piece titled "Silence = Despotism."
In it, he said "Political democracy will take root in Latin America
only when it is accompanied by economic and social democracy (under)
political systems....free and fair for all." As Peru's president,
he thwarted efforts to do what he now says he champions. Toledo continued
saying "our citizens" must be heard, and if free speech is
silenced in one country, "silence could spread to other nations"
pointing his hypocritical finger squarely at Hugo Chavez.
Venezuelans, he says, "are
in the streets (today) confronting repressions. Courageous students
raise the flags of freedom, refusing to mortgage their future by remaining
silent." He quickly gets to the point citing Hugo Chavez's refusal
to renew RCTV's Channel 2 VHF license saying "This is about more
than one TV station. President Chavez has become a destabilizing figure
throughout the hemisphere because he feels he can silence anyone with
opposing thoughts (by) silencing them through repression or government
decrees." He then called on other Latin American leaders to confront
"authoritarianism" and "stand up for continent-wide solidarity"
citing his own presidency and how "it never occurred to (him) to
silence (critical) media outlets (or) nationalize them."
Toledo's tainted record as
president belies his shameless pieties on the Times op ed page. He did
more than try silencing critics. He stayed mute when they were attacked
or when two or more of them were killed. The New York Times knows his
record even though it suppressed the worst of it while he was in office.
Yet it gave him prominent space to denounce Hugo Chavez's social democracy
and legal right not to renew the operating license of a TV channel for
its repeated illegal seditious acts. RCTV was a serial abuser of its
right to use the public airwaves. It was then guilty of supporting and
being complicit with efforts to foment insurrection to overthrow Venezuela's
democratically elected government.
Toledo ignored this saying,
as Peru's president, he was "always....respectful of opinions"
differing from his own. He would "never agree with those who prefer
silence instead of dissonant voices. Those....who embrace liberty and
democracy must stand ready to work in solidarity with the Venezuelan
people." He failed to say which ones he meant, surely not the 70%
or more backing Chavez. And by failing to denounce RCTV's lawlessness,
he showed he condoned it. He also forgot his successor as president,
Alan Garcia, lawlessly silenced two Peruvian TV stations and three radio
stations, apparently for supporting a lawful strike Garcia opposes.
The New York Times has an
ugly record bashing Hugo Chavez since he was elected with a mandate
to make participatory social democracy the cornerstone of his presidency.
That's anathema to Washington and its chief media ally, the New York
Times. Since 1999 when he took office, it hammered Chavez with accusations
of opposing the US-sponsored Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) without
explaining it would sell out to big capital at the expense of his people
Following his election in
December, 1998, Times Latin American reporter Larry Roher wrote: (Latin
American) presidents and party leaders are looking over their shoulders
(worried about the) specter....the region's ruling elite thought they
had safely interred: that of the populist demagogue, the authoritarian
man on horseback known as the caudillo (strongman)."
The Times later denounced
him for using petrodollars for foreign aid to neighbors, equating promoting
solidarity, cooperation and respecting other nations' sovereignty with
subversion and buying influence. It criticized his raising royalties
and taxes on foreign investors, never explaining it was to end their
longtime preferential treatment making them pay their fair share as
they should. It bashed him for wanting his own people to benefit most
from their own resources, not predatory oil and other foreign investors
the way it was before Chavez took office. No longer, and that can't
be tolerated in Washington or on the pages of the New York Times.
When state oil company PDVSA
became majority shareholder with foreign investors May 1 with a minimum
60% ownership in four Orinoco River basin oil projects, the Times savaged
Chavez. It condemned his "revolutionary flourish (and his) ambitious
(plan to) wrest control of several major oil projects from American
and European companies (with a) showdown (ahead for these) coveted energy
resources...." Unmentioned was these resources belong to the Venezuelan
people. The Times also accuses Chavez of allowing "politics and
ideology" to drive US-Venezuelan confrontation "to limit American
influence around the world, starting in Venezuela's oil fields."
It calls him "divisive,
a ruinous demagogue, provocative (and) the next Fidel Castro."
It savored the 2002 aborted two day coup ousting him calling it a "resignation"
and that Venezuela "no longer (would be) threatened by a would-be
dictator." It reported he "stepped down (and was replaced
by (a) respected business leader" (Pedro Carmona - president of
Fedecamaras, the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce).
Unmentioned was that Carmona
was hand-picked in Washington and by Venezuelan oligarchs to do their
bidding at the expense of the people. He proved his bona fides by suspending
the democratically elected members of the National Assembly and crushing
Bolivarian Revolutionary Constitutional reforms, quickly restored once
Chavez was reinstated in office. Carmona fled to Colombia seeking political
asylum from where Venezuela's Supreme Court now wants him extradited
on charges of civil rebellion. Unmentioned also was that the Times had
to dismiss one of its Venezuelan reporters, Francisco Toro, in January,
2003 when Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) revealed he was
an anti-Chavista activist masquerading as an objective journalist.
Back to the present, the
Times claims Chavez is moving to consolidate his dictatorial powers
by shuttering RCTV's Channel 2 and silencing his critics. It portrays
him as a Latin American strongman waging class warfare with socialist
rhetoric. It asks how long Venezuelans will put up with the destruction
of their democratic freedoms? It points to "evidence Mr. Chavez's
definition of the enemy has been enlarged to include news media outlets....critical
of his government....extending his control beyond political institutions
(alone)." This marks a "shift from the early years of his
presidency, when he (also) faced vitriolic criticism" from the
The Times speculates how
brutal he'll become silencing critics and quelling protests wondering
if he'll use proxies to do it. It then questions whether Chavez overstepped
enough to marshall large-scale opposition to him to push him past the
tipping point that will inevitably lead to his loss of credibility and
power. Might this be a thinly disguished Times effort to create the
reality it supports by wishing for it through the power of suggestion.
Times business columnist
Roger Lowenstein is on board to make it happen. He claims, with no substantiation,
Chavez "militarized the government, emasculated the country's courts,
intimidated the media, eroded confidence in the economy and hollowed
out Venezuela's once-democratic institutions." Turn this on its
head to know the truth Lowenstein won't report - that Chavez militarized
nothing. He put his underutilized military to work implementing Venezuela's
Plan Bolivar 2000 constructing housing for the poor, building roads,
conducting mass vaccinations, and overall serving people needs, not
invading and occupying other countries and threatening to flatten other
Venezuela's courts function
independently of the democratically elected President and National Assembly.
The media is the freest and most open in the region and the world with
most of it corporate owned as it is nearly everywhere. Further, business
is booming enough to get the Financial Times to say bankers were having
"a party," and the country never had a functioning democracy
until Hugo Chavez made it flourish there.
Times Venezuelan reporter
Simon Romero is little better than Lowenstein or others sending back
agitprop disguised as real journalism in his Venezuelan coverage, including
RCTV closure street protests. He made events on Caracas streets sound
almost like a one-sided uprising of protesters against Chavez with "images
of policemen with guns drawn" intimidating them. He highlighted
Chavez's critics claiming "the move to allow RCTV's license to
expire amounts to a stifling of dissent in the news media." He
quoted Elisa Parejo, one of RCTV's first soap opera stars, saying "What
we're living in Venezuela is a monstrosity. It is a dictatorship."
He quoted right wing daily
newspaper El Nacional as well portraying the RCTV decision as "the
end of pluralism" in the country. Gonzalo Marroquin, president
of the corporate media-controlled Inter-American Press Association (IAPA),
was also cited saying Chavez wants to "standardize the right to
information (indicating) a very bleak outlook for the whole hemisphere."
He invented corporate-cooked polling numbers showing "most Venezuelans
oppose Mr. Chavez's decision not to renew RCTV's license." In fact,
the opposite is true and street demonstrators for and against RCTV's
shuttering proved it. Venezuelans supporting Chavez dwarfed the opposition
many times over. But you won't find Romero or any other Times correspondent
reporting that. If any try doing it, they'll end up doing obits as their
Back in February, Romero
was at it earlier. Then, he hyped Venezuela's arms spending making it
sound like Chavez threatened regional stability and was preparing to
bomb or invade Miami. Romero's incendiary headline read "Venezuela
Spending on Arms Soars to World's Top Ranks." It began saying "Venezuela's
arms spending has climbed to more than $4 billion in the past two years,
transforming the nation into Latin America's largest weapons buyer"
with suggestive comparisons to Iran. The report revealed this information
came from the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) making that unreliable
source alone reason to question its accuracy and what's behind it.
The figure quoted refers
only to what Venezuela spends on arms, not its total military spending.
Unmentioned was that the country's total military spending is half of
Agentina's, less than one-third of Colombia's, and one-twelfth of Brazil's
according to Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation figures ranking
Venezuela 63rd in the world in military spending. The Center also reported
Venezuela's 2004 military budget at $1.1 billion making Romero's $4
billion DIA figure phony and a spurious attempt to portray Chavez as
a regional threat needing to be counteracted. At that level, he's also
outspent by the Pentagon 500 to one, or lots more depending on how US
military spending and homeland security readiness are calculated, including
all their unreported or hidden costs.
On June 12, Venezuela Analysis.com
reported, in an article by "Oil Wars," the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) indicated Venezuela's military spending
for 2006 was $1.9 billion. The report's author voiced skepticism so
compared this number to Venezuela's Ministry of Defense expenditures
for that year in its "Memoria y Cuenta." It's figure was $1,977,179,179
thousand Bolivars that converted to US dollars comes to $919,618,000.
To that must be added another $1.09 billion the Ministry of Defense
got from Venezuela's FONDEN, or development fund. Adding both numbers
together, of course, shows the country's 2006 military spending at $2
Based on The Independent
Institute's Senior Fellow Robert Higgs' calculation of US defense spending
for FY 2006 of $934.9 billion, it still means the Pentagon outspends
Venezuela's military by around 500 to one. Higgs includes the separate
budgets for the Department of Defense, Energy, State, Veterans Affairs,
Homeland Security, Treasury's Military Retirement Fund, other smaller
defense-related budgets plus net interest paid attributable to past
debt-financed defense outlays. Even then, he omitted off-the-books budgets
and secret intelligence ones for CIA and NSA.
Back to the Times' Romero
and it's clear his reporting smells the same as Iraq's WMDs and Iran's
legal commercial nuclear program being threat enough to warrant sanctions
and a US military response. Romero is right in step with Bush administration
World Bank president neocon nominee Robert Zoellick. He took aim at
Hugo Chavez from Mexico City June 16 with warnings Venezuela is "a
country where economic problems are mounting, and as we're seeing on
the political side it's not moving in a healthy direction."
Romero reports similar agitprop
and did it May 17 in his article titled "Clash of Hope and Fear
as Venezuela Seizes Land." He began saying "The squatters
arrive before dawn with machetes and rifles, surround the well-ordered
rows of sugar cane and threaten to kill anyone who interferes. Then
they light a match to the crops and declare the land their own."
He continued saying "Mr. Chavez is carrying out what may become
the largest forced land redistribution in Venezuela's history, building
utopian farming villages for squatters, lavishing money on new cooperatives
and sending army commando units to supervise seized estates in six states."
Violence has accompanied
seizures, says Romero, "with more than 160 peasants killed by hired
gunmen in Venezuela (and) Eight landowners have also been killed...."
Since Chavez took office, there have been peasant and other violent
deaths, but most of them have been at the hands of US-Colombian government
financed paramilitary death squads operating in Venezuela.
Romero stays clear of this
while making his rhetoric sound like an armed insurrection is underway
in Venezuela forcibly and illegally seizing land from its rightful owners.
What's going on, in fact, is quite different that can only be touched
on briefly to explain. Hugo Chavez first announced his "Return
to the Countryside" plan under the Law on Land and Agricultural
Development in November, 2001. The law set limits on landholding size;
taxed unused property; aimed to redistribute unused, mainly government-owned
land to peasant families and cooperatives; and expropriate uncultivated,
unused land from large private owners compensating them at fair market
value. So, in fact, the government seizes nothing. It buys unused land
from large estates and pays for it so landless peasants can have and
use it productively for the first time ever benefitting everyone equitably.
Nowhere in his article did
Romero explain this although he did acknowledge prior to 2002, "an
estimated 5 per cent of the population owned 80 per cent of the country's
private land." By omitting what was most important to include,
Romero's report distorted the truth enough to assure his readers never
get it from him. Nor do they from any other Times correspondent when
facts conflict with imperial interests. That's what we've come to expect
from the "newspaper of record" never letting truth interfere
with serving wealth and power interests that includes lying for them.
Shameless reporting on Venezuela under Hugo Chavez is one of many dozens
of examples of Times duplicity and disservice to its readers going back
Former Times journalist John
Hess denounced it his way: I "never saw a foreign intervention
that the Times did not support, never saw a fare....rent....or utility
increase that it did not endorse, never saw it take the side of labor
in a strike or lockout, or advocate a raise for underpaid workers. And
don't get me started on universal health care and Social Security. So
why do people think the Times is liberal?" And why should anyone
think its so-called news and information is anything more than propaganda
for the imperial interests it serves?
Robert McChesney and Mark
Weisbrot explained it well in their June 1 CommonDreams.org article
on "Venezuela and the Media" saying: "the US media coverage
(with NYT in the lead) of Venezuela's RCTV controversy (and most everything
else) says more about the deficiencies of our own news media than it
does about Venezuela. It demonstrates again (it's more) willing to carry
water for Washington (and the corporate interests it serves) than to
ascertain and report the truth of the matter." At the Times, truth
is the first casualty, especially when the nation's at war.
Stephen Lendman lives
in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site
at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information
Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Saturdays at noon US central time.
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