Saturday, March 17, 2007

Crocodile Tears

It's good that NPR reports on the death of a key witness/survivor of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador - and NPR deserves praise for inviting Ray Bonner, the reporter who broke the story, on to talk about El Mozote. Yet there is an illuminating interchange in the interview that highlights how locked into the pro-US government worldview NPR is (and how devoid of journalistic integrity Scott Simon is).

Bonner has been talking about the details of the massacre of over 700 civilians by the Salvadoran military when Simon comments "You reported this story and she came forward and spoke to you and Alma and Susan Meiselas at a time when the Salvadoran government denied that, (hesitation) that that had happened, (hesitation) uh-"

Bonner interrupts, "Not only the Salvadoran government but the US government. To which Simon responds, "Yeah."

? So much for the touchy-feely Simon. That significant bit of history gets a "yeah" and no more, but that is the story. That and the complicity in the campaign against the story by most of the US media, including heavyweights such as the Wall Street Journal and Time.

This is not just nitpicking over keeping some sordid footnote to history from disappearing down the memory hole. This story is timely and relevant for three reasons not even mentioned in today's NPR story: 1) The killers in Mozote were trained and supported by the US government, 2) the key actors in covering up the Mozote massacre are major players in the Bush Administration, and 3) the "counterinsurgency through death squad" model practiced in El Salvador is frequently championed by featured experts on NPR.


Anonymous said...

For me, the best part of the interview was at the end when Simon asked (paraphrased): Was this the moment that turned public opinion on the war in El Salvador? And Ray Bonner just scoffed. (No... it was the four American Nuns...)

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you, mytwords, for having the stomach to listen to Simon. For me he is the absolute epitome of all that is wrong with NPR: smug, phony, lazy, too much in awe of the Washington power establishment. And that godawful phony laugh of his!