Posted by: quiscus | October 7, 2010

October 7, 2010

1.  “Media Disinformation: Washington´s “Regime Change Hit List”: Iran versu Honduras

Double standards in attention, solidarity, benevolence, and indignation can be illustrated in the New York Times’ coverage of the two events for the first 30 days following each of them — June 13-July 12, 2009 for Iran’s election; and June 29-July 28, 2009, for the Honduran coup.  During the first of these 30-day periods, the Times devoted at least 100 news reports to Iran, with at least 23 of these reports beginning on Section 1, page 1; in fact, the Times devoted page-one reports to Iran for the first 15 consecutive days after the election (June 13-27).  Following the coup in Honduras, the Times devoted 26 reports to the coup and its aftermath, and placed only two of these reports on Section 1, page 1 (June 29-30).  Whereas the attention devoted to Iran was sustained and the interest taken in the public demonstrations and charges of vote fraud fed off itself, the attention devoted to Honduras was short-lived, and though interest in the coup couldn’t be avoided for at least a couple of days, it quickly faded away.  The ratio of news reports on the election in Iran to reports on the coup in Honduras thus was 100-to-26 on the pages of the New York Times.  For page-one reports it was 23-to-2; and for op-eds plus editorials, it was 17-to-3.


But the Times’ real standards were revealed with even greater clarity by the fact that whereas the two op-ed columns and single editorial that it published on Honduras were both anti-Zelaya and apologetic towards the coup, none of the 14 op-eds and three editorials it published on Iran was anything but hostile towards Iran’s government while also highly critical of the official election results.


In its only editorial on Honduras in our 30-day sample, the Timesrepeated the coup-regime’s false justification for the coup: That the “rich businessman turned left-wing populist and a close ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez” had sought to “change the Constitution so he can run for a second term.” [6]  Likewise with its two op-eds.  Zelaya was “pushing the limits of democracy by trying to force a constitutional change that would permit his re-election,” wrote Alvaro Vargas Llosa in a commentary filled with warnings about, not the threat that the coup posed to democracy in Honduras, but the threat that “Venezuela’s caudillo” poses to the hemisphere.  Roger Marin Neda mentioned the referendum that Zelaya had urged, but also turned it into his “laying the groundwork for an assembly to remake the Constitution to allow him to serve one more term,” his “larger goal” being to change the “democratic system into a kind of 21st-century socialism,” a “Hugo Chavez-type of government.”  No mention of the illegality of the coup or its inherent repressiveness.  Hardly any mention of actual violence — Roger Marin Neda conceded that “At least one person is reported to have died,” but added that “despite this, life for many Hondurans has continued as usual.” [7]


Turning to the Times and Iran, everything reverses.  “[T]he hard-line mullahs brazenly stole the election for the hard-line president,” the third and last Times editorial in our sample stated (July 3).  “Government authorities bulldozed the results of last week’s presidential election — declaring the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the winner by a landslide before the votes could be credibly counted,” the second editorial claimed.  “If the authorities want to resolve this impasse peacefully . . . they should call a new election. . .” (June 18).  “Neither Real Nor Free,” the Times’ first post-election editorial proclaimed (June 15).[8]”

2.  “The American Propaganda Machine

The American propaganda machine tells us that Muslims are a hostile people who hate American freedom. The most cursory examination of that claim reveals that the evidence the claim is based upon is highly flawed, yet the American people have been persuaded that it’s true. That suggests that the American people have learned nothing from our experience with the Nazi’s, and it also suggests that the biggest threat to America is the propaganda machine itself.

Americans tend to believe that American lives are more valuable than the lives of other people. When Americans are killed we never stop talking about it. It, literally, goes down in the history books. But when we kill innocent women and children in other countries we simply say, “Oops, sorry ’bout that,” then expect the people to forget about it.

Look at what Obama said about Bush and Cheney’s war crimes – “We want to look forward, not back.” What the hell is he talking about? Bush killed close to a million people for nothing more than corporate greed. How can we expect to dismiss the killing of a million men, women, and children by simply saying, let’s let bygones be bygones? One can only wonder if Obama would have taken that position if his family had been among that million? Somehow, I doubt it.

3.  “America’s Deepening Moral Crisis

The language of collective compassion has been abandoned in the US, and no politician dare even mention helping the poor


Much of America is in a nasty mood and the language of compassion has more or less been abandoned. Both political parties serve their rich campaign contributors, while proclaiming they defend the middle class. Neither party even mentions the poor – who now officially make up 15% of the population, but in fact are even more numerous when we count all those households struggling with healthcare, housing, jobs and other needs.


The Republican party recently issued a “Pledge to America” to explain its beliefs and campaign promises. The document is filled with nonsense, such as the fatuous claim high taxes and over-regulation explain America’s high unemployment. It is also filled with propaganda. A quote from President John F Kennedy states that high tax rates can strangle the economy, but Kennedy was speaking half a century ago, when the top marginal tax rates were twice what they are today. Most of all, the Republican platform is devoid of compassion.

Income inequality is at historic highs, but the rich claim they have no responsibility to the rest of society. They refuse to come to the aid of the destitute, and defend tax cuts at every opportunity. Almost everybody complains, almost everybody aggressively defends their own narrow, short-term interests, and almost everybody abandons any pretense of looking ahead or addressing the needs of others.


What passes for American political debate is a contest between the parties to give bigger promises to the middle class, mainly in the form of budget-busting tax cuts at a time when the fiscal deficit is already more than 10% of GDP. Americans seem to believe that they have a natural right to government services without paying taxes. In the American political lexicon, taxes are defined as a denial of liberty.


There was a time, not long ago, when Americans talked of ending poverty at home and abroad. Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” in the mid 1960s reflected an era of national optimism and the belief that society should make collective efforts to solve common problems, such as poverty, pollution and healthcare. America in the 1960s enacted programs to rebuild poor communities, to fight air and water pollution, and to ensure healthcare for the elderly. Then the deep divisions over Vietnam and civil rights, combined with a surge of consumerism and advertising, seemed to end an era of shared sacrifice for the common good.”


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