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Wall Street Journal and New York Times Attack Journalism PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Sunday, 15 April 2007 16:23

Wall Street Journal and New York Times Attack Journalism

Stephen Lendman ~ This article addresses two of the writer's favorite corporate media targets - the Wall Street Journal's far-right editorial page and New York Times on every page.  Both broadsheets were recently in attack mode taking on two Latin American leaders deserving praise but never getting any other than occasional backhanded kinds from papers devoted to one dual core mission - supporting the power elite and their own bottoms lines.  First, the Journal.

Wall Street Journal and New York Times Attack Journalism

Stephen Lendman


This article addresses two of the writer's favorite
corporate media targets - the Wall Street Journal's
far-right editorial page and New York Times on every
page.  Both broadsheets were recently in attack mode
taking on two Latin American leaders deserving praise
but never getting any other than occasional backhanded
kinds from papers devoted to one dual core mission -
supporting the power elite and their own bottoms
lines.  First, the Journal.

Readers need a strong stomach and nerves of steel
venturing onto the Wall Street Journal's editorial
page any time, but especially on days when self-styled
"Latin American expert" Mary Anastasia O'Grady's
columns appear.  This writer has tangled with her a
time or two before.  In a response last fall, it was
suggested she one day risks a serious back problem,
the result of her permanent position of genuflection
to the far-right extremists she pledges allegiance to.
 Based on her latest offering, nothing has changed,
but readers be warned.  Those accepting how she views
Latin America won't ever know the way it really is.

Her latest April 9 column titled "Sharp Left Turn in
Ecuador" makes the case.  It demands another go at her
at least to set the record straight she never does
except for those preferring her kind of vitriol and
fiction to fact.  First off, a reminder of O'Grady's
background to understand where she's coming from.  She
earlier worked as an options strategist for Advest,
Inc., Thompson McKinnon Securities, and Merrill Lynch
& Co.  She was also employed once at the far-right
Heritage Foundation think tank that never met a
regressive corporate-friendly policy or US war of
aggression it didn't support or a populist progressive
independent head of state it didn't denounce as a
threat to national security or worse.

O'Grady was also awarded the private media
Inter-American Press Association's (IAPA - for private
media corporations) Daily Gleaner Award for editorial
commentary in 1997 and received an honorable mention
in IAPA's opinion award category for 1999.  In
addition, she won first prize in the 2005 Annual
Bastiat Prize for Journalism.  The prize was
established and run by the International Policy
Network (IPN - a UK based NGO) to "encourage and
reward writers whose published works promote the
institutions of a free society" according to how its
patron saint, 19th century French-born Frederic
Bastiat, saw things.  He had a deep distrust of
government in any form and thought regulation and
control were inefficient, economically destructive and
morally wrong, or as IPN puts it:  It supports
"limited government, rule of law brokered by an
independent judiciary, protection of private property,
free markets, free speech, and sound science."

It sounds like apple pie and motherhood, but IPN
doesn't explain those things are in the eye of the
beholder, and high-sounding language can easily brush
over policies of another kind.  One nation's free
markets doesn't mean they're fair and private property
rights have no right infringing on the public commons.
 They're for everyone equally, not just the elitist
ones IPN refers to reflecting its membership
encouraging what it calls "better public understanding
of the role of the institutions of the free society in
social and economic development."

O'Grady launches her attack with what she calls "the
constitutional crisis that Ecuador finds itself in
today (facing a) modern day plunder frenzy (pitting)
President Raphael Correa, an outspoken admirer of
Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, against members of Congress
who wish to preserve the country's institutional
balance of power.  At stake is the future of
democracy, with 13 million Ecuadoreans facing the
prospect of life under a soft dictatorship allied with
the Venezuelan strongman."

It's enough to take your breath away, and a little
translation is in order to set the record straight
O'Grady never does.  Remember where she's coming from,
who she writes for, and above all whom she represents
- the nation's power elite, not the people of Ecuador
who elected Correa last November in a run-off
presidential election.  He decisively bested
bible-toting, billionaire oligarch and banana tycoon
Alvaro Noboa 58% to 42% in a race pitting progressive
populism against more of the same meaning status quo
in a country long ruled for the interests of capital
with no regard for the public welfare.

Correa took office January 15 making impressive
promises he's so far trying to keep.  That arouses
O'Grady's ire so she oxymoronically refers to
"non-democratic Ecuador" while admitting, at the same
time, Correa "was elected fair and square."  The
people of Ecuador, 70% of whom live in poverty, were
crying for change as do most others in Latin America
where free elections are as rare as an early Chicago
spring, and "demonstration" fake ones are nearly all
they get.  They're stage-managed to look democratic
but usually turn out leaving power in the hands of the
powerful, never the people they rule with disdain and
indifference.  Today they're run the same way in the
US in the age of George Bush gifted his office twice
through "electoral engineering," winning it neither
time fair and square like Correa did in spite of great
efforts to prevent it.

Early on, Correa campaigned like George Bush never did
promising real change including using the country's
oil revenue (Ecuador is the hemisphere's fifth largest
producer) for critically needed social services
Ecuadoreans never got before from right wing
governments unwilling to provide them.  He promised a
"citizens' revolution" beginning by drafting a new
Constitution in a Constituent Assembly with a national
referendum on it scheduled for Sunday, April 15
following the same pattern his ally Hugo Chavez chose
in 1999 following his first election as Venezuela's
president in December, 1998.  With popular support for
it overwhelming (85% according to government polls,
likely very accurate), it's virtually certain to pass,
again arousing O'Grady's ire calling this democratic
process a "power grab" intended to "rewrite the
highest law of the land, crush the opposition and make
himself (Correa) ruler for life (sparking a)
constitutional crisis."  For the kleptocracy maybe,
not for the long-exploited people.

O'Grady is right about one thing.  Only the country's
unicameral legislature can call for a national
constitutional referendum, but that's precisely what
it did by a vote of 54 - 1 with two abstentions after
most opposition Christian Democratic Union (UDC)
deputies walked out facing overwhelming popular
sentiment for it and their likely defeat.

Here's O'Grady's account of things, all false and pure
nonsense: "Mr. Correa (got) the electoral court
(Ecuador's Supreme Electoral Council - TSE) to 'expel'
57 of his opponents (only 43 walked out) from the
100-seat unicameral legislature (they left on their
own) and enlist(ed) the police to enforce the
expulsions (false - there were none).  He then called
in his 'militias' (and) in recent days the streets of
Quito (the capital) have been flush with violent
activists (mass public supporters) sending a message
in favor of the Correa plebiscite....Mr. Correa (with)
an approval rating of about 60% (around 70%, in fact)
seems to believe he has carte blanche to make the law
wherever he decides it is."  Ecuadoreans will decide
it, not Raphael Correa as O'Grady knows but won't say.
 Her job is delivering red meat for the faithful and
pure baloney to her readers for the powerful interests
she serves deferentially.

She goes on pathetically calling the people of Ecuador
a "mobocracy" in a country led by a "caudillo"
(strongman).  Disingenuously she says Sunday's
referendum is "outside the law" referring to the
democratic voice of the people as "lawful plunder."
She then improperly quotes her apparent patron saint
Frederic Bastiat at the end saying: "Woe to the
nation....when the mass victims (the exploited masses)
of lawful plunder....in turn seize the power to make
laws."  In fact, they seized nothing.  They're
democratically voting for it to get what negates
O'Grady's final comment that "The losers, of course,
will be the majority of Ecuadoreans."  The people feel
otherwise.

Here's why.  Ecuadoreans look north and elected
Raphael Correa to do for them what Hugo Chavez
continues doing for the Venezuelan people.
Venezuelans showed their admiration by reelecting
Chavez in December by a nearly two to one margin over
his only serious Washington-backed and financially
supported opponent.  Correa promised and appears set
on delivering the same kind of social democratic
agenda Venezuelans now have and embrace.  At its core
is a true democratic process and kinds of progressive
social programs Chavez gave his people.  To move
forward, he first needs popular approval to rewrite
the country's  Constitution he surely will get this
Sunday.

With it, Ecuador should have a new Constitution later
this year which will likely again be put to a popular
referendum to let the people decide on it, not the
politicians.  If it's anything like the 1999
Constitucion de la Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela,
it will be a cornucopia of progressive social policies
written into law that may include state-delivered
health care, education and other benefits for all
Ecuadoreans Correa promised to serve.  Correa already
said he wants freedom from debt slavery under
IMF/World Bank Washington Consensus neoliberal rules
by renegotiating the country's debt to eliminate the
odious part of it, the result of previous governments'
corrupt dealings at the expense of the people.

Correa is also negotiating bilateral and other
economic deals with Hugo Chavez and other Latin
leaders based on Venezuela's Bolivarian Alternative
for the Americas or ALBA model.  It's the
mirror-opposite of FTAA/NAFTA-type one-way pacts
sucking wealth from developing states to benefit
Global North ones, mostly the US.  ALBA is based on
sound principles of complementarity, solidarity and
cooperation aimed at comprehensive integration among
Latin American nations to build their social states in
contrast to US-type deals wanting to destroy them for
profit.  Correa also  promised 100,000 low-cost homes,
a raise in the minimum wage, and doubling the small
"poverty bonus" 1.2 million poor Ecuadoreans get each
month.  Still more is likely to follow if Correa is
true to his word and has constitutional authority to
act.

He won't need it to follow through on his promise to
close the major US military base at Manta when the ten
year lease authorizing it expires in 2009.  O'Grady
didn't mention it, but it's got the Pentagon concerned
as it's the largest US base on South America's Pacific
coast, expensive to build, and one they want to hold
onto but likely won't.

Pentagon issues aside, all else terrifies people like
Mary O'Grady who feel benefits for ordinary people
mean less of them for the rich and powerful ones she
represents who give her Wall Street Journal editorial
space for it weekly.  She knows the side her bread is
buttered on, and for her lying is just business as
usual and part of the job serving the powerful.

The New York Times Weighs in on Venezuela's Oil Policy

Not about to let the Wall Street Journal one-up it,
the New York Times assaulted Hugo Chavez in its April
10 Simon Romero/Clifford Krauss article titled "High
Stakes: Chavez Plays the Oil Card."  First a brief
explanation of the facts, and then the way the Times
skews them.

Hugo Chavez made it clear to foreign investors the old
way of doing business in Venezuela is over, based on
corporate exploitation of the country's resources at
the expense of the Venezuelan people.  The new rules
are fair ones, the same kinds foreign oil and other
investors agree to in deals with Global North
countries but don't have to in relations with
developing ones.  Henceforth, if Big Oil and other
corporate giants want to do business in Venezuela,
they'll have to deal with Hugo Chavez the same way
they do with Tony Blair, Angela Merkel and Vladimir
Putin - fairly.

On the matter of oil, Chavez wants a bigger share of
joint-venture profits Venezuela is entitled to from
its own resources and majority state control over
Orinoco River basin lucrative oil projects believed to
hold the world's largest undeveloped oil reserves.
It's where Big US and other oil companies now operate
including Chevron, BP Amoco, ConocoPhillips and Exxon
Mobil.  In February, Chavez announced state oil
company PDVSA will become the majority shareholder on
May 1 in four basin projects with minimum 60%
ownership with foreign joint-venture partners.
Earlier, he raised taxes on foreign oil companies and
other outside investors requiring them henceforth to
pay a more equitable amount of their lucrative profit
back to the people of Venezuela.

So far, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips are holding out
for a better deal they won't get while Chevron is more
willing to go along understanding less of a huge
profit is better than none at all.  In the end, the
holdouts may come around to that view as well.  All
this has the Times very upset, so it's on the attack
as de facto cheerleader for Big Oil.

Mentioning the looming May 1 deadline, it attacks Hugo
Chavez with charged language like negotiating with
"revolutionary flourish" and his "ambitious" plan (no
different from Global North ones) to "wrest control of
several major oil projects from American and European
companies (with a) showdown (ahead) over access to
some of the most coveted energy resources outside the
Middle East."  If instead of dealing with Venezuela
under Hugo Chavez, negotiations were between Big Oil
and Canada, Norway, the UK, or even Russia, despite
current strained relations between Putin and Bush,
it's unimaginable this article would have been
written.

In it, the Times refers to empty Chavez threats to cut
off oil exports to the US because he wants to
diversify into more markets by selling more to
countries like China and India.  It also sees a
problem where none exists if Venezuela's state oil
company PDVSA sells its US refineries quoting oil
analyst Pietro Pitts saying "Chavez is playing a game
of chicken with the largest oil companies in the
world....And for the moment he is winning."  The
article seems to imply Chavez wants to dismantle the
refineries preventing their use to supply US markets
while ignoring it hardly matters who owns them as long
as they operate which they will under any owner as
long as they're profitable.

The article continues with scare-talk saying Chavez's
"confrontation could easily end up with everyone
losing" meaning if Big Oil leaves and Venezuela and
other oil producers come in along with PDVSA,
"Venezuela risks undermining the engine behind Mr.
Chavez's socialist-inspired revolution by hampering
its ability to transform the nation's newly valuable
heavy oil into riches for years to come."

Nonsense.  If Big Oil leaves, which is very doubtful,
it will be the loser and Venezuelan oil production
will continue under new joint-venture partnerships.
Because the country's potential is so huge, it's
highly likely Big Oil's current posture is just its
way to hold out as long as possible for the best deal
its members can get and in the end take what Hugo
Chavez gives the ones agreeing to it.  It's too sweet
a deal to walk away from, and most likely won't
despite their wailing and moaning with help from the
New York Times acting as their mouthpiece.  And if any
do, they'll be willing takers ready to sign deals to
pick up where those exiting left off.

Nonetheless, it gets still more heated quoting oil
analyst Michael Economides saying "We are on a
collision course with Chavez over oil" in an article
he wrote comparing "Mr. Chavez's populist appeal in
Latin America with the pan-Arabism of Col. Muammar
el-Qaddafi of Libya two decades ago" when he was
persona non grata in the West, and Ronald Reagan
bombed him in 1986 killing his adopted daughter.  He
continues saying "Chavez poses a much bigger threat to
America's energy security than Saddam Hussein ever
did" - language so hostile it's practically a
declaration of war and 100% nonsense.

But there's more.  The Times accuses Chavez of
allowing "politics and ideology" to drive the
confrontation and seek "to limit American influence
around the world, starting in Venezuela's oil fields."
 Unmentioned is that the "oil fields" belong to
Venezuela, not the US, and the Times writers need to
brush up on recent Middle East events where American
influence is already on life support because of Bush
administration blundering. It's made this country
persona non grata in a part of the world most crucial
by far to US energy security having 60% or more of the
world's proved reserves, and with all Muslim nations
combined the total is between two-thirds to
three-quarters of it.

The Times also dismisses out of hand Chavez's right to
view the US as a threat simply because Washington
tried and failed deposing him three times, not once as
NYT claims.  Instead it stresses the US remains
Venezuela's largest customer (supplying 10 - 12% of
this country's energy needs and isn't likely to cut
off).  So the scare tactics continue saying if Big Oil
pulls out, with it goes vitally needed expertise.
Again, nonsense, but it sounds good coming from two
reporters who don't know what they're talking about,
nor do they understand Big Oil is likely to stay, not
leave, whatever deal its members are offered.  And,
again, if one member does leave, Exxon Mobil being the
most likely possibility, another oil giant will come
in to replace it to reap the big profits every oil
producer should be grateful to get and most are.

Some Conclusions Left Out of the Wall Street Journal
and New York Times Articles

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times attacked
two Latin American leaders unwilling to surrender
their nations' sovereignty to ours with Hugo Chavez
being boldly vocal about it.  Since elected in 1998,
Chavez charted his own independent course building a
new mass social and political revolutionary movement
based on participatory democratic social equity and
justice.  It began as his Bolivarian Revolution
inspired by the vision of 18th century liberator Simon
Bolivar to end what Bolivar called an imperial curse
"to plague Latin America with misery in the name of
liberty." In eight years in office, Chavez went a long
way toward achieving it but knows there's much more
needed to move things to the next level toward a "new
socialism of the 21st century" based on humanistic
democratic principles of solidarity and respect for
political, economic, social and cultural human and
civil rights built from the bottom up.

It's working socially, politically and economically as
well with poverty levels falling from a high in 2003
of 62% following the crippling 2002-03 "management
lockout/oil strike" and destabilizing effects of the
2002 two-day aborted coup to levels near one-third
today because of Venezuela's booming economy.  It's
grown at least 10% three straight years, including 10
of the last 11 quarters lifting personal incomes,
sparking overall consumer demand, and raising
corporate profits to high levels that were so
impressive for financial firms last year the Financial
Times wrote bankers were having a "party" in Venezuela
because "rather than 'nationalise' banks,  the
'revolutionary' distribution of oil money has spawned
wealthy individuals who are increasingly making
Caracas a magnet for Swiss and other international
bankers."

With comments like that, you'd think the Wall Street
Journal and New York Times would take note and  praise
Chavez instead of condemning him.  They don't because
Washington diktats demand otherwise.  They also ignore
Venezuela's impressive drop in unemployment from a
high of 20% in early 2003 to 8.4% in December, 2006
and likely to keep falling as Venezuela's economy
continues strong.

And one other piece of good economic news just came
out showing Venezuela's March inflation rate was a
negative - 0.7%, the lowest in 19 years, thanks to
government anti-inflation policies like reducing the
value-added tax (VAT) from 14% to 11%.  Other
constructive efforts included government actions to
curb speculation in scarce private sector goods and
the sale of government savings bonds.  In February,
the Chavez government, along with Argentina, launched
a second round of Bonds of the South amounting to $1.5
billion.  Then in March, PDVSA sold $5.5 billion worth
of bonds that along with the government sale removed
cash from the economy serving to reduce inflationary
pressures.

These positive developments are happening in a
socially democratic state where constitutional law and
government policies require redistributing much of the
nation's wealth back to the people, and it's lifting
all boats.  The result is mirror opposite of what
happened throughout Latin America when regional GDP
from 1980 - 2000 grew 9% under Washington Consensus
neoliberal rules and 4% from 2000 - 2005, compared to
82% growth from 1960 -1980 before they were imposed.
They're not allowed in Venezuela under Chavez, and the
results speak for themselves.

Raphael Correa understands them as a former finance
minister and trained economist with a doctorate in
economics earned in 2001 at the University of
Illinois.  He's also a social democrat wanting to do
for Ecuadoreans what Hugo Chavez did for Venezuelans
and is off to a good start to the chagrin of the Wall
Street Journal and Washington.  It's editorial writer
fears he may succeed making her and her paper look
more foolish than they already do.  What counts are
Ecuadoreans' feelings, and they'll have a chance
Sunday to express them in the nation's first national
referendum on whether to draft a new Constitution sure
to pass.

The same is true for the New York Times, savaging Hugo
Chavez, disingenuously calling him "divisive" and a
"ruinous demogogue," and they were just getting warmed
up.  The Times championed the aborted 2 day coup
toppling him briefly calling it a "resignation" and
saying Venezuela was "no longer threatened by a
would-be dictator."  Instead of calling the coup what
it was, the Times lied saying Chavez "stepped down
(and was replaced by a) respected business leader"
(Pedro Carmona) never mentioning he was hand-picked by
Washington to do its bidding.  He lasted two days,
suspended democratically elected members of the
National Assembly, and temporarily wrecked the
Bolivarian Revolution quickly reconstituted when
Chavez returned to office as Carmona fled finding
refuge in neighboring Colombia.  The Times is never
deterred so its latest assault on Chavez's oil policy
shows the same mean spirit as all other broadsides it
unleashed on the Venezuelan leader from the start.

It's not working as the spirit of social democracy
proves it can trump Washington Consensus alternatives
of economic ruin and vast human misery from it.
Venezuelans know it, and hopefully Ecuadoreans soon
will as well.  But we'll never hear about it on the
pages of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times
continuing their drumbeat support for failed policies
heading one day for the dustbin of history with room
there to spare for these papers sure eventually to
follow.


Stephen Lendman
lives in Chicago and can be reached at
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen each Saturday to the
Steve Lendman News and
Information Hour on The Micro Effect.com at noon US
central time.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 April 2007 16:23
 

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