Sunday, January 15, 2006

Democrat & Chronicle - Jingoistic Propaganda Machine

Here is the title of an Editorial from the D&C from Sunday, January 15th:

United States is vulnerable to South American dictator.

The United States tried to overthrow his government a year or so ago and Chavez has been fighting back. So Fakepresident Bush calls him a dictator, even though he's been democratically elected - in real elections. And the editors of our corporate-owned newspaper decide to just parrot this. What hard-hitting journalism.

Feel free to e-mail the two main editors:

James Lawrence:
Tom Tobin:


Jason Nabewaniec said...

To find out more about what Hugo Chavez has done in Venezuela whacth the film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, this is a documentary that was accually filmed durning the 2002 48 hour Coup.

22nd February 2003 Irish Times:
TV Review Section by Shane Hegarty
Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain may have been in the right place at the right time, but they still had to do the right things. The place and time were the Venezuelan Presidential Palace on April 11th last year, when President Hugo Chavez was briefly deposed in a tumultuous 48 hours. The right thing
about it was its humility. While watching, it was easy to be lulled into the lazy presumption that all that was required of them was to point the camera and let history take care of the rest.

Ego, however, has a habit of exercising its power of veto on these matters.
Television is weighted down with documentaries in which the story of the filmmaker eclipses the "story" itself.

On September 11th, for instance, Jules and Gedeon Naudet were on a fire crew dispatched to the World Trade Centre. Their resulting documentary, 9/11, had the temerity to present their personal experiences as a microcosm for a global tragedy. It had the gall to believe that the most powerful story in decades didn't have a decent kick without them as lead actors. It should have been a worthy historical document, but it was a TV-movie disaster matinee.

So, it can go very badly wrong. Not here. In Chavez - Inside the Coup, Bartley and O'Briain tucked themselves away from sight. Their narration was likewise unobtrusive. Yes, they made their sympathies clear, but they saved
their film for the people around them. The plotters. The defenders. The dead. Those crushing up against the gates of the Palace. The soldiers in secret preparation to retake that building. The poor pressing notes into the
hand of the President ("Mr President, I need a bag of cement . . . ). The middle-classes at their meetings ("Keep an eye on your domestic servants").

They saved it for Chavez, a man from whom charisma drips like the military epaulets. The film had undoubted affection for the president, who had failed to grab power through two coups, before settling for politics and gaining election through a landslide. He became the latest Latin American leader attempting to peel away the layers of the banana republic. He encouraged the setting up of community cells and educational workshops. re-wrote the constitution. He set about re-distributing the money earned from his country vast oil supply, dismantling the corruption of the state oil company.

Of course, a US state department official is trained to hear the sound of an oil well tap turning from several thousand miles away. Chavez is no friend to the US. He went on television to denounce the US bombing of civilians in Afghanistan, brandishing pictures of dead children. He is a public friend to Fidel Castro. It wasn't mentioned here, but he has had his meetings with Saddam Hussein and Gadafy. In Bush's list of those "either with us or against us", he's with the axis of irritants. "We are concerned with some of the things said by President Chavez, and his understanding of what a democratic system is about," said Colin Powell, with the hemmed in anger of a boss who has an employee he wants to sack, but the union won't let him.

This was a battle fought largely through the media, the actual violence a brief punctuation to what was, and remains, a war of words. The state channel, Channel 8, gave Chavez a weekly phone-in show in which he would answer questions from the public. The private channels, meanwhile, allowed oil company chairmen to beseech the military to rise up against the president. One general's call for a coup was filmed in a journalist's house.
Panellists on talk shows mocked Chavez as having a "sexual fixation" with Castro.

It was a poison seeping into the wider world. When the coup was reported in the Western media, it was done using footage broadcast by these private channels, mainly that of pro-Chavez supporters apparently firing on an anti-Chavez march as it made its way to the Presidential Palace. If you panned back, though, you would have seen that there were no protestors on the street below, and that those shooting were attempting to protect themselves from the sniper fire that left 10 people dead. The camera had panned back, but the footage had been edited to remove that bit.

The world's press carried reports that could have been written by the coup leaders themselves, and, because they were based on these pictures, to a certain extent they were. This film punctured every lie. The world accused the pro-Chavez crowd of carrying out the shootings; O'Briain and Bartley's camera proved it wasn't so, filming the victims almost before they hit the ground. The coup leader Pedro Carmona's speech about this "profoundly democratic process" and Colin Powell's parroting of Carmona's lie was inter-cut with film of the police shooting at protestors. As Carmona was on CNN declaring that the "the country is in a state of total normality", the camera was in the palace from which he had just been ousted. It followed the palace guard as they moved to strategic positions, took the building back and reinstated Chavez.

This was a film with extraordinary access. It was not just "Inside The Coup", but wedged into the white heat of its centre. It hovered about the palace grounds no matter who was in charge. O'Briain and Bartley mingled with the Catholic Church leaders and oil men during the brief changeover in power.
Then, when Chavez returned to the palace after a couple of days in captivity, he greeted it like a friend.

On the night of the coup, the camera jostled for position outside the office in which President Chavez was being told to resign by the army high command or allow the building and all his supporters in it to be bombed. One of his ministers emerged to tell those outside that he had agreed to be taken prisoner. She looked at the lens and asked, "Tell the world." O'Briain and Bartley kept their end of the bargain in an exceptional and thrilling way.

Dave Atias said...

The D&C didn't print my lettor to the editor and neither Tom Tobin nor Jim Lawrence responded to my e-mails. I'm shocked.