WaPo Notes Chavez Backing for FARC Terrorists, Six Days After WSJ Had Story
Six days after Wall Street Journal's Jose de Cordoba and Jay Solomon published their front-pager, "Chávez Aided Colombia Rebels, Captured Computer Files Show," the Washington Post turned out its coverage of the development by staffer Juan Forero, who pulled a few punches by failing to directly finger Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez:
CARACAS, Venezuela, May 14 -- High-ranking officials in Venezuela offered to help Colombian guerrillas obtain surface-to-air missiles meant to change the balance of power in their war with the Colombian government, according to internal rebel documents.
By comparison, de Cordoba and Solomon brought the Venezuelan dictator front-and-center with their May 9 lede:
BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- A cache of controversial computer files closely tying Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez to communist rebels seeking to topple Colombia's government appear to be authentic, U.S. intelligence officials say.
Add in a snoozer of a headline for Forero's below-the-fold story -- "Venezuela Offered Aid to Colombian Rebels" -- most Post readers were likely to skip the article altogether.
All the same, Forero reached the T-word faster than his competitors at the Journal (end of paragraph 3):
The disclosures have already started to reverberate in the Bush administration and among Latin America policymakers on Capitol Hill, where a small group of Republicans has proposed classifying Venezuela, a major oil exporter to the United States, as a state sponsor of terrorism. The United States and Europe long ago blacklisted the rebel organization, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, as a terrorist group.
By comparison de Cordoba and Solomon waited 17 paragraphs, although they did also describe the FARC rebels as "communist" in the story lede, an adjective (along with Marxist), that Forero never used in his article:
The FARC is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., Canada, Colombia and the European Union. For the U.S., any group that deliberately attacks civilians for political reasons merits such a designation. With troop strength estimated at around 9,000 fighters, that would make the FARC Latin America's oldest and largest such group.