Thursday, June 11, 2009

Forerovision - NPR Keeps the Focus on Venezuela

I'm not going to defend every action of the Chavez government in Venezuela - reports of harassment of journalists and the narrowing of press freedoms in Venezuela deserve some attention. But one has to wonder who sets the agenda at NPR and Juan Forero's obsessive focus on Venezuela - a focus that mirrors US government perspectives on Venezuela [similar problems exist with human rights reporting on Venezuela].

If one considers the critiques of Venezuela by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), they appear serious and deserving of some news coverage. However, a glance at the CPJ's page parallel page on Colombia is eye-opening to say the least - many cases of government persecution of journalists, and a ranking of 5th worst in the world for unpunished killings of journalists. If you look at Forero's NPR coverage of journalism in Venezuela you'll see a focus on government restrictions, whereas his coverage of the same topic in Colombia has nothing about the problem - and in fact features one one story touting the amazing Colombian military and one alleging ties between Chavez and the FARC!

This morning Forero - regular Chavez critic and past apologist for Colombian death squads - was at it again, focusing on the Chavez government's campaign against the right-wing TV channel, Globovison. The report is unstintingly critical of Chavez; Inskeep introduces it, claiming that
"the president is threatening to close it down, which has press freedom groups raising questions about the future of democracy in the highly polarized country."
Forero explains that
"since taking power over a decade ago, President Hugo Chavez has had a thing about Globovision"
noting (as he does in his mirror piece in the WaPo) that Globovision's reporters have been "refused access to official functions." Forero's report features critics of Chavez; Carlos Lauria of CPJ states that "this is an attack against freedom of expression," while Globovision's news director, Ravel, claims that one can still say what one wants, but "you risk your life, your concession." Finally, Forero closes out his report by noting that Ravel "says that covering the news in Venezeula these days can carry serious consequences."

Forero does give the slightest nod to the fact that there is a context to this "thing about Globovision" that Chavez has: "Globovision did black-out coverage of a counter-coup that put Chavez back in power - the station also gave favorable coverage to Chavez foes, but investigations of Globovision's alleged role went nowhere and no one at the station was charged in the overthrow." Forero's brief aside minimizes the role of private media such as Globovision in supporting the coup, a role that - as McChesney and Weisbrot point out in an article on RCTV - would not be tolerated by any government.

Finally, Forero's report is noticeable for the lack of any real critics of Globovision's activities or it's role in helping to make Venezuela the "highly polarized" country that Inskeep refers to.


Anonymous said...

I read Extra!, the magazine of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and I am confident reports of suppression of press freedom in Venezuela are greatly exaggerated by the propagandists at NPR, the WaPo, and elsewhere.

I have a particular animus against Juan Forero and Simón Romero. I sincerel believe they are in the pay of the U.S.'s propaganda services--whether in the media or the secret service(s).

To say there are restrictions to press freedom in Venezuela is disingenuous. The fact is the majority of the press is PRIVATELY-OWNED, RIGHT-OF-CENTER, if not FASCIST.

I am vehemently anti-fascist.

And I try, often in vain, to counter all the misinformation about Venezuela in particular, and Latin America in general, in my postings to blogs and news sites.

All I can say is that Juan Forero and Simon Romero are not at all impartial. They are, evidently, propagandists.

It's to bad NPR listener's and Washington Post readers can't pick up on that.

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Forero's an "elite" Colombian, so he has two obvious reasons to ignore Colombian violations, one neationalistic and the other class-based. Forero also works/worked for the NY Tiimes. Here's an article which demonstrates how to read one of his reports.

Anonymous said...

I note the way NPR approaches riots, civil disorder, and revolution in Iran (and Venezuela) after a bogus (?) election. I note how NPR approaches the same things within Fortress America.