Well, only a minute or two after I sent my previous post reporting on
why the story wasn't being reported by the major news organization, I
got word that the damn had begun to crack.
The AP ran a brief, couple-of-paragraph item on it, shortly thereafter a
fuller story. (This is *normal* for the AP which provides both copy for
print and copy meant to be "rip and read" for radio and perhaps TV. Nor
is it abnormal for the shorter version to move first even though it was
derived from a longer version that moves on the wire a little later. A
service like AP has multiple circuits aimed at different kinds of
clients, and at this time of night when the stuff moved, getting
suitable copy out for a TV newscast "reader" would have been much more
urgent than moving the "newspaper" version.)
And I see from Google News [at around 11 PM Eastern] that a couple of
outlets have begun to pick it up: a U.S. TV station and a Japanese Daily
with an English web site.
Rerunning the google news search I see there are suddenly a whole series
of local TV stations with the exact same report and headline, posted at
the same time. I assume all are part of a chain that pretends to have
local, individually edited web sites but in fact 99% of the content
comes canned from a corporate newsroom and is put into the "local" web
site through the magic of PERL or some other scripting language.
Now it is time to wait and see how long it takes for the bigger players
to pick it up -- and especially which ones run their own story rather
than rely on wire service copy.
* * *
Robertson's statements come at a particularly unfortunate time for
enemies of Ch?vez. Just yesterday [Sunday], Chavez was in Cuba (he
visited the island to attend a graduation ceremony for medical students)
and he and Fidel had traveled to Sandino City, at the westernmost tip of
Cuba, to broadcast from there Ch?vez's weekly "Al? presidente" TV show.
For some reason CNN's Luc?a Newman decided to cover it and she
(mis)reported that Chavez and Fidel had called for Latin American unity
to counter US "influence" in the region, not terribly exact, as Cuba has
never objected to all sorts of U.S. "influences" in all sorts of fields
from sports to science to music, and I'm sure the Bolivarian revolution
won't either. What Ch?vez and Fidel actually denounced was U.S. economic
and political domination and meddling, in a word, imperialism, which was
precisely the word Ch?vez and Fidel used.
One of the things that Ch?vez announced was that Venezuela would "loan"
petroleum to Ecuador to allow it to meet its obligations since that
country stopped exporting crude on Thursday due to disruptive protests
in the Amazon region where the crude is extracted.
It may seem odd that Ch?vez would seek to blunt the impact of what at
first blush appear to have been popular protests, but actually things
are quite muddy. The current government is new and the result of the
previous president having been sent packing a month or two ago for
failing to live up to promises to be like Ch?vez, and instead accepting
every last outrageous imposition from the IMF.
On the other hand, the protests are being led by local and provincial
government officials, of whom it is said they could have led such a
vigorous movement as part of the fight against the previous president
but failed to do so. At any rate, the regional and local officials were
today closeted in Quito with the current central government and a rasher
of grey-suited executives from the "transnational" (read: imperialist)
oil corporations, and the word being leaked was that the fix was in.
And we should remember that all this is taking place as Venezuela is
trying to forge what is in essence a Latin-America-wide anti-imperialist
united front with oil as its axis. And with a barrel of crude trading at
more than double the OPEC target price. I'm sure Chavez found a way to
communicate how much easier it was for him to comply with the Ecuador
government's request since unexpected resources exist to begin
satisfying what are undoubtedly legitimate aspirations of the people of
the oil-producing region in Ecuador.
But also today, at foggy bottom, the state department mouthpiece was
trying to twist Ch?vez's response to the request of the Ecuadorian
government as some sort of interference in
Ecuador's internal affairs. When the imperialists start posturing as if
they're taking the side of popular movements in a place like Ecuador, I
get *very* suspicious. No, I don't *automatically* put a minus where
they put a plus. But I try to be much more careful in making sure I take
into account all the different cross-currents at work.
Frankly, it looked messy and complicated and unfortunately, in my work
right now I'm forced to deal with these sorts of questions. And then
along comes doubleya confidant Pat Robertson, to place in sharp relief
what REAL interference in the internal affairs of another country looks
like. When I first heard his statement, I just smiled. It made my day.
For those who haven't yet had the opportunity to check it out, here is
what Robertson said, in all its white supremacist, imperialist, truly
* * *
There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the
United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a
result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in
power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan
economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist
infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he
thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to
go ahead and do it.
It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any
oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the
United ... this is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this
We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have
announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south,
controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly.
We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that
we exercise that ability.
We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know,
strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert
operatives do the job and then get it over with.
* * *
I had to turn away from this post for an hour or more to deal with other
things so now it is quite a bit later than when I first intended to have
it out. That's o.k. too. I've included a couple of [bracketed]
indications of time frames to avoid confusion, but that's it.
In the meantime, though, the USA Today website picked up the AP story,
but it isn't featured on the home page. What would be significant is if
it's there or in the print edition. I don't know the US Today site well
enough to say, but a lot of sites will pick up anything that strikes any
staff members' fancy if it comes from AP or Reuters. Editors don't mind.
If they don't like the story, they just won't feature it and it will be
just one more item in the middle of a list of two dozen links, where
only hardened news junkies on a given subject will click on it. Been
there, done that.
There's 150 more versions of the story --mostly AP, the rest blog-type
comments, not original reporting that is out there now. It seems the
resistance to it has yet to collapse, although the AP having
"legitimized" the item makes that pretty much a foregone conclusion. One
thing is that, realistically, unless the Media Matters we post was noted
immediately, only a few outlets, like the 24-hour news nets and wire
services, would have had the staff on hand to work on this in the early
evening or later when it came to their attention.