Thursday, May 25, 2006

Western media

The western media often baffles me. With all the advantages that go with being in a first world economy they still can’t get basic facts right – if it has nothing to do with their world. I remember reading an article in one of the dailies about professor Nettleford which said he went to Cornwall College in Kingston! It went on to say many other fictional things. Now for heaven’s sake, if you are doing such a story, surely it is the simplest thing to check your facts. No credible source that I know of would say Cornwall College is in Kingston so obviously this was a sloppily researched piece.

In that same newspaper the other day I read a piece about Hugo Chavez’s visit to the UK. Now in this piece there were no glaring factual errors that I could make out but the journalist’s western bias, lack of knowledge and reasoning were obvious with the slant he took at certain points.

The journalist outlines Chavez’s rise and his polices. It speaks about the policies as though they are excellent ones serving the needs of the poor in Venezuela.

Then inexplicably in the next paragraph the journalist asks if in the end Chavez would turn out to be a tin pot tyrant? He then goes on to talk about how dangerous it is that Chavez is friendly with Castro and Mugabe. Chavez qualifies these friendships later on mind you so don’t take that comment at face value.

So the journalist paints a picture of a political leader who has done pretty sound things for his people and the natural progression from that point is to speculate as to how long it will take for him to turn into a tyrant! Unbelievable! If he was a serious journalist, and he wanted to make that point then he should present evidence that Chavez is likely to turn that way and I don’t believe that being friendly with Castro and Mugabe is evidence.

I said earlier that Chavez qualified his friendships with Castro and Mugabe. Agree with him or not this is what he said. He said he doesn’t believe there’s a lack of freedom of speech in Cuba. He maintained that if you approach Cuba from a Western point of view you might think there is a lack of freedom of speech but he maintains that many people express themselves on a variety of matters.

In this I would agree with him in that in Cuba people express themselves on a variety of matters, they just can’t express themselves on a variety of others so there is limited freedom of speech. But let’s not be hypocrites, the same pertains in the west. Just ask that 80 year old guy who was ejected from the Labour Party conference last year!

Chavez goes on to state that electing a President or Prime Minister every five years and having press and TV doesn’t necessarily mean there’s freedom of speech. He stated that every country has its own model, which is true.

With respect to Mugabe Chavez said that he believed Mugabe had been demonised too much. He said that ‘we all make mistakes’ and recommended the journalist interview Mr. Mugabe himself. He said that Mr. Mugabe’s actions must be viewed within the larger context of the history of Zimbabwe, colonialism and racism there.

After this, the journalist states that is it odd in the extreme that Venezuela is a free country with a free press allowed to criticise Chavez and yet Chavez is apparently defending some ‘appalling dictators.’

Doesn’t this tell the stupid reporter something? Why doesn’t he read the Lancaster agreement and a bit of Zimbabwe history? Sure Mugabe in the last 10 years or so has gone nuts and has made his people suffer terribly and this can’t be forgiven. But you must look at what he has become in the wider context of years of frustrating dealings with the white racists in his own country. Many also say his younger second wife who has a taste for the good life has a lot to do with his craziness.

The journalist seems to believe that having a free country like Venezuela and being friends with men like Castro and Mugabe are mutually exclusive. This is why the west is so unsuccessful in bridging gaps with countries of opposing viewpoints. For them it’s either think as we do or you are the enemy. And they call themselves civilised?

The piece ‘inspiringly’ ends on the typically ‘positive’ note Western articles about non-white western leaders usually end on. It is widely believed that the recent coup which temporarily ousted the democratically elected Chavez was backed by the US. In light of this after Chavez promises to blow up Venezuela’s oil fields rather than let the Americans gain control of them if they try another coup, the journalist speculates whether or not Chavez returns to a country with positive programmes benefiting the people or a country of increasing Castrosism, fascist coups and burning oil fields.

Surely there’s more pertinent and uplifting things to end on than that?

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