Thursday, March 03, 2011

Reuters is no DFH

I've mentioned before that one of the ways Western mass media news outlets prove that they are not DFH's is by demonizing Hugo Chavez, the eternal "becoming-an-authoritarian" president of Venezuela even though he somehow never actually gets there. A dispatch for March 3 proves that Reuters knows how to play the game.

Here, for example, is the very first sentence:
Venezuela pushed a vague peace plan for Libya on Thursday, saying President Hugo Chavez's friend Muammar Gaddafi was in favor of foreign mediation.
Okay. First, in such news coverage, pro-US governments always present the "ouline" of a plan or the "principles" of a plan. Chavez, however, presents a "vague" plan, one, we are told further down, has "few concrete details." Now, that may well be true, but when such "vague" - excuse me, "outlined" - proposals come from pro-US governments, the attitude is "let's see what develops" rather than the dismissive "analysts are skeptical."

Beyond that and more importantly, again in the very first sentence we get "Chavez's friend Muammar Gaddafi," the adjective being a wholly irrelevant reference but a damning one for most Americans. Just out of curiousity, can anyone point me to a Reuters article (or an AP article, a CNN report, whatever) which opened with a reference to George Bush's "friends and former business associates," the royal family of Saudi Arabia? Or merely even to Bush's (and Obama's) "friend" Tony Blair as if that was a central issue?

There are several more irrelevant-except-to-be-damning references, such as referring to Chavez's "mentor, Fidel Castro of Cuba" and the assertion that Chavez "has won plaudits in the Arab world for his condemnation of Israel." It also referred to "fellow left-wingers" and described the ALBA bloc of Latin American nations as "left-wing." How many times have you seen pro-US governments, no matter their policies or practices, anywhere in the world called "right-wing" in major media? How many times have you seen any American government official so described?

All of this was in the space of a little over 500 words.

Chavez is no angel and I have previously questioned whether he is able to separate himself from the causes he promotes, that is, if he can envision those causes continuing to be advanced if Hugo Chavez is no longer on the scene. Both he and his supporters must be able to do that in both philosophical and practical ways; it is the failure to do so, it is the identification of the benefit of a particular individual with the benefit of cause as a whole, that has lead, as I wrote a good number of years ago, to "so many sets of high hopes being shot down by so many 'New Orders.'" Again as I have said before, Venezuela is not at that point by any means but the possibility is not over the horizon.

Hugo Chavez is not beyond criticism - but his continued, almost routine now, demonization is more likely than anything else to lead to that increasing identification of him with, even as, the cause and all the dangers that entails. I'm not a conspiracist, really I'm not, but that premise, that conviction that constant demonization most often leads to repression, not liberty, that idea is so obvious and so well-documented over the course of history that I can't help but wonder if at least some of the demonizers intend precisely that result, the better to discredit any moves toward socialist answers to the woes created by capitalism.

Footnote: Another quote was
"Chavez's credibility does not fly very high," said Olivier Jakob of think-tank Petromatrix.
I was going to ask when was the last time you heard the credibility of any US official being dismissed without rebuttal or counter-claim in mainstream media - but then I realized you can hear it frequently, provided it's some right-winger dismssing someone anywhere to their left. Which does tend to confirm the overall thesis.

Oh, and by the way, Jakob added that "the only value of such a proposal is if it offers some honorable way out for the Gaddafi clan." That is, if it provided a way for Qaddafi to back out without looking like he's backing down, and for that reason more likely to be accepted. Other than a potential feather in Chavez's cap, that would be a bad thing precisely how?

Another Footnote: Reuters had a sidebar article entitled "Analyst View: How serious is the Chavez Libya peace plan?" It turns out that all of them were analysts for the energy industry. Among that truncated grouping was Olivier Jakob, whose connection to industry was not mentioned in the main article.

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