Back in May 2007, the Venezuelan government declined to renew the expiring broadcast license of television station RCT for, among other breaches, taking a direct part in the failed 2002 coup to overthrow the elected government. The purpose of the coup was, as usual, to establish a fascist dictatorship, wipe out the left, restore the old oligarchy, call it democracy, and thus make kissyface with Washington. The decision merely meant that RCT would no longer be able to to use the public airwaves to diffuse its daily dump on the government. Its ever more colorful claims that President Chavez was a monstrous lunatic guilty of every imaginable crime and perversion known to man and God would remain available on RCT’s cable and internet outlets. That decision caused a great brouhaha in our media about the crushing of press freedom and growth of populist dictatorship in Venezuela. Nowhere was it mentioned that the Venezuela’s media was not only free but indulged by a government that let it get away with shit that would have landed the execs of ABC, CNN or NBC in the hoosegow had they, say, kept suggesting that the country’s leaders be tortured and killed in bizarre ways. I imagine a lot of liberals felt righteous about standing up for press freedom in a supposedly repressed land. They certainly took up a lot of media space and time prating their pique. Perhaps that incident exhausted their outrage. On June 29, the Honduran military pulled off a successful coup, ousting the elected president at gunpoint and opening fire on those who took to the streets in defense of lawful, representative government. The golpistas didn’t bother waiting for tv station licenses to expire. They simply shut down the stations and newspapers that had supported legit authority. They also roughed up and expelled whatever foreign media they regarded as less then supportive of their thuggery. A particulary target was the crew of Telesur, a new Latin news network that has dared to compete with CNN in Latin America. This morning I listened to an hour’s discussion of the Honduran crisis at "On Point," an NPR gabfest hosted by one Tom Ashbrook, who filled in the yawning gaps in his of knowledge of the subject with lies. There was lots of criticism of the imagined excesses that the overthrown president might have possibly committed had he been allowed to serve out his term. But there was no mention, let alone concern, at the media crackdown. So far as I know, only Journalists Without Borders, a Paris-based free press protagonist, has raised a stink about the erasure of press freedom in Honduras. The stunning silence of supposed liberals on not only censorship but also on the brutal repression of democratic legitimists in Honduras reminds me of George Orwell’s quote about a similar outrage decades ago: The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. This post originally appeared at The Karman Turn.
Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.