Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Anti-US Alliance?

The intro to this morning's report on the travels of the new villain de jour, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela stated that he was traveling to Russia and beyond to "court[ing] countries in the region to form an anti-US alliance." To further discredit Chavez, we are told that he is "a self-proclaimed leftist revolutionary." Finally to make sure that we know how bad Chavez is we are told of his cozy meeting with "strongman" and dictator, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka. A couple of problems here. First let me say that the evidence does indicate that the leader of Belarus is pretty horrible. Second, I'm not going to be an apologist for Chavez' governments human rights abuses. But NPR's lopsided coverage of these issues is unacceptable and its oversimplified painting of Chavez as "anti-US" is both sloppy and false. Without reporting on the US role of launching coups against democratically elected governments (as recently as the US-orchestrated coup against Aristide in Haiti in 2004) listeners may conclude that Chavez's allegations of the US being behind the coup against him in 2002 is just leftist paranoia instead of fact. Finally, trying to demonize Chavez because he meets with dictators is using a technique that NPR never used with Bush administration officials when they schmooze with nasty leaders in places like Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan (which Sec. Rice praised as an "island of stability" in October of 2005).

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