[Marxism] "Mainstream Media Fails Itself" on Haiti

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Wed Mar 3 23:41:40 MST 2004

["Of course it does!" you might snarl, the capitalist media serves their
capitalist bosses.  But stay, say I!  By your leave, isn't it amazing
how the aspect of a democratically elected leader being given the bum's
rush by the powers that be can be so easily disdained, even belittled? 
Liberals, libertarians & progressives, if they can put the picture
together, should be waking into a nightmare: all their precious rights
mean nothing! The pieces include that joke election, mo money to the
rich, the Patriot Act, this abominable, specious, shifting-cause war,
the aborted coup in Venezuela, and now this blatant hustle in Haiti. 
But the "left-wing" (who says that?) mainstream media maintain their
decorum: don't rush off willy-nilly;  let's not jump to delusions; we'll
take the word of the Government until we hear different-even though by
now, that boy was supposed to be devoured by the "Wolf!" at least three
cries ago, and the press should really be the first to challenge the
Administration for duping them so many times-no, no, sorry, that's what
you'd feel if you swallowed that sanctimonious crap about the "media
watchdog of democracy."  Here are some critical observations from a
watchdog of the media:  ]

Mainstream Media Fails Itself

By Peter Phillips (Project Censored)

On February 29, Richard Boucher from the U.S. Department of State
released a press release claiming that Jean Bertrand Aristide had
resigned as president of Haiti and that the United State facilitated his
safe departure. Within hours the major broadcast news stations in the
United States including CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, and NPR were reporting
that Aristide had fled Haiti. An Associated Press release that evening
said "Aristide resigns, flees into exile." The next day headlines in the
major newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post, USA
Today, New York Times, and Atlanta Journal Constitution, all announced
"Aristide Flees Haiti." The Baltimore sun reported, "Haiti's first
democratically-elected president was forced to flee his country
yesterday like despots before him." 

     However on Sunday afternoon February 29, Pacific News network with
reporters live in Port-au-Prince Haiti were claiming that Aristide was
forced to resign by the US and taken out of the Presidential Palace by
armed US marines. On Monday morning Amy Goodman with Democracy Now! news
show interviewed Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Waters said she had
received a phone call from Aristide at 9:00 AM EST March 1 in which
Aristide emphatically denied that he had resigned and said that he had
been kidnapped by US and French forces. Aristide made calls to others
including TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, who verified
congresswomen Waters' report.

     Mainstream corporate media was faced with a dilemma. Confirmed
contradictions to headlines reports were being openly revealed to
hundreds of thousands of Pacifica listeners nationwide. By Monday
afternoon mainstream corporate media began to respond to the charges.
Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News, 6:30 PM voiced, "Haiti in crisis. Armed
rebels sweep into the capital as Aristide claims US troops kidnapped
him; forced him out. The US calls that nonsense." Fox News Network with
Brit Hume reported Colin Powell's comments, "He was not kidnapped. We
did not force him on to the airplane. He went on to the airplane
willingly, and that's the truth. Mort Kondracke, executive editor of
Roll Call added, "Aristide, Šwas a thug and a leader of thugs and ran
his country into the ground." The New York Times in a story buried on
page 10 reported that "President Jean-Bertrand Aristide asserted Monday
that he had been driven from power in Haiti by the United States in "a
coup," an allegation dismissed by the White House as "complete

Mainstream media had a credibility problem. Their original story was
openly contradicted. The kidnap story could be ignored or back-paged as
was done by many newspapers in the US. Or it can be framed within the
context of a US denial and dismissed. Unfortunately, the corporate media
seems not at all interested in conducting an investigation into the
charges, seeking witnesses, or verifying contradictions. Nor is the
mainstream media asking or answering the question of why they fully
accept the State Department's version of the coup in the first place.

    Corporate media certainly had enough pre-warning to determine that
Aristide was not going to willingly leave the country. Aristide had been
saying exactly that for the past month during the armed attacks in the
north of Haiti. Aristide was interviewed on CNN February 26. He
explained that the terrorists, and criminal drug dealers were former
members of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH),
which had led the coup in 1991 killing 5,000 people. Aristide believed
that they would kill more people if a coup was allowed to happen. It was
also well known in media circles that the US Undersecretary of State
Roger Noriega for Latin America was a senior aide to former Senator
Jesse Helms, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee was
a longtime backer of Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier and an
opponent of Aristide. These facts alone should have been a red flag
regarding the State Department's version.

     As a former priest and liberation theologist, Jean Bertrand
Aristide stood for grassroots democracy, alleviation of poverty, and
God's love for all human beings. He challenged the neo-liberal
globalization efforts of the Haitian upper class and their US partners.
For this he was targeted by the Bush administration. That the US waited
until the day after Aristide was gone to send in troops to stabilize the
country proves intent to remove him from office.

     Mainstream media had every reason to question the State
Department's version of the coup in Haiti, but choose instead to report
a highly doubtful cover story. We deserve more from our media than their
being stenographers for the government. Weapons of mass destruction
aside, we need a media that looks for the truth and exposes the
contradictions in the fabrications of the powerful. 

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University
and Director of Project Censored a media research organization.

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