Monday, December 3, 2007

The Chavez situation

While I'm not a huge fan of Hugo Chavez, I really think he has gotten a bad rap from the mainstream press in the United States. And, in some ways, the sweeping "reforms" proposed in his country which were defeated last night needed to be defeated on principal.
But, at the same time, let's be honest about what happened there. Chavez has been the victim of an American media hit campaign and possible a covert op smear campaign by our government. The reportage from all forms of media here, including the WSJ, which regularly writes "news stories" which pilloried the man and his "vision" as leading to a road to dictatorship, have been so damn one-sided it isn't even funny. Who knows what other tactics were used by our government beneath the surface in order to ensure that he is gone in a few years. This is not surprising since Chavez openly endorses a "socialist" state. He has also endorsed the sharing of national resources, something Bush has advocated in developing nations himself, although Chavez seems to be acting on it, something our government would never actually do. Chavez has even sold oil to non-profits in our nation at huge discounts so that very poor New Englanders won't be left out in the cold. But because he has called Bush Satan [and he isn't the only one] he is a danger. I say, Boo hoo.
One of the most outrageous coverage biases of Chavez was his attempts to silence the media in his country. But do you know the real story? Not if you watch the American news. Chavez did attempt to silence some forms of media in his country, after those "news" outlets openly and repeatedly advocated an overthrow of the duly elected president ... again! With the help of our government's foreign policy establishment, a coup was advocated and performed in 2002 ... all because Chavez wanted to give the destitute in his country land to grow crops on. The duly elected president was not going to let a coup happen again and who can blame him?
In order to fully realize what happened there, let's create a similar example here and you will get the point of the media bias.
Imagine for a moment, what would happen if a news network, say CNN or MSNBC, allowed its news anchors to repeatedly and openly advocate for the people of the United States to take up arms against Bush/Cheney and overthrow them. Imagine that they did this day after day, night after night, for months. Not little tokens of commentary like Keith Olberman going off on Bush like he is Edward R. Murrow. Repeated. Day in, day out. To the point where, gasp, shock, Americans actually started to take up arms and march on Washington to drive the dictators out. And imagine that this was all done because a handful of land barons were going to lose some of their land so that the rest of the country had the opportunity to live. In other words, it was a concocted revolution but still an effective one.
Do you know what would happen here?
Those networks would probably be taken over by some national security function on the first day or two, never mind months. Those anchors would be taken off the air immediately, probably even jailed. That's what would happen here in the land of the free ... the same exact thing that happened there. You can't advocate for a coup the same way you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.
Of course, as we all know in this modern media world, news anchors who advocate and encourage the people of the United States to take up arms and overthrow Bush/Cheney would never be seen a million miles from a television studio. They would never get in the parking lot of a major media outlet, never mind in the anchor's chair. That is the big lie, if you will. There is a presumption that the United States has a fair and open media but it just isn't true. The gatekeepers are strong and they aren't going to let anything they don't like through.
I mean, let's be honest, a legitimate liberal on most of the television news networks panel shows is nowhere to be found. Instead, viewers get corporate sycophant supposed liberals like Howard Fineman, Joe Klein, and their ilk to pontificate about what the little people want and need from the safety of their mansions in Chevy Chase, Maryland or wherever they live. Or, if you're FoxNews, you get a liberal with rock and you prop that person up to fight against a conservative with a bazooka. It's like the Israelis versus the Palestinians nightmare ... although the liberals on FoxNews don't have the wherewithal to perform guerrilla tactics to win a political argument ... they might not get invited back to eat brie in the green room or might not get another limo ride to the satellite linkup.
The larger point I'm trying to make is this: Don't believe the hype. Don't believe everything you read or, at least try and look at alternative news outlets ... you might be surprised by what you find out. Chavez's proposals were rightly defeated last night and needed to be. But, I don't believe he is a tyrant or an ogre. Or maybe he is and if he is, he isn't as bad as some of the tyrants or ogres we have in our country, who are respected as legitimate leaders by millions of otherwise decent people who should know better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate a well thought out commentary such as yours. All too often, we Americans react too quickly to a situation relying solely on our own media. It's nice to hear a logical voice as opposed to rhetoric, when it comes to foreign leaders our country doesn't like. I've found as I've grown up that things aren't as black and white as I've been led to believe. But then, it sure makes things easier when you know who to hate.