In an unbylined item Sunday evening, the Associated Press informed readers that Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez, continuing a six-year campaign of agricultural land seizures, has ordered the expropriation of a huge swath of farmland from a British company, and unilaterally decided that any compensation which might occur will be paid in his country's own currency, over which the country's banks exercise strict repatriation controls.
The report frames the amount of land being seized in a way which will ensure that many readers won't appreciate its massive scope. More important, in something seen frequently in reports about authoritarian regimes, it treats the specific objections of opponents -- in this case, current landowners -- as arguments instead of observable and determinable facts. Here are several paragraphs from the report (bolds are mine):
Robert Worth, staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, wrote a “news analysis” for the paper's Sunday Review, “The Arab Intellectuals Who Didn’t Roar,” suggesting the Arab spring needs a Communist tyrant like Lenin or Mao to become a symbol of “people’s aspirations.”
Thanks, Reverend Al. Really. Sure, we know that the left is all about the redistribution of wealth rather than its generation. Still, it's instructive to hear a leading lefty say it in such stark terms. As clear a statement of the manifesto since candidate Obama told Joe The Plumber that "spread the wealth around" is the way to go.
On his MSNBC show this evening, Sharpton declared that his view of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it should be about "really, how we distribute the wealth in this country." View video after the jump.
In a report carried at the Washington Post on Thursday and updated early Friday, the Associated Press's Christopher Toothaker wrote a lengthy report about how Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez plans to "expropriate homes on the Caribbean resort islands of Los Roques, saying the structures were built on plots bought in shadowy business deals." By the end of the day Friday, the report turned into four paragraphs written from the standpoint of certain island residents which made it seem like no big deal. Both AP reports don't convey the severity of the Chavez's action found in a Reuters report on the same topic.
Here are key paragraphs from the initial longer AP report (bolds are mine throughout):
Move over, Tom Friedman--there's another MSMer looking longingly at Communist China. In an infamous column, Friedman wrote of his envy of the power of the Chinese despots to impose "critically important decisions." He's been at it again lately
Now comes Sino-Commie-phile Katty Kay. On Morning Joe today, the BBCer criticized the USA for not having a "40-year plan for medical innovation" like the Chinese do. Joe Scarborough was on-point with his comeback. Video after the jump.
By contrast, Reuters -- no stranger to criticism from us here at NewsBusters -- had a decidedly more positive portrayal of Ctirad Masin's life-long devotion to fighting Communism in this August 13 obituary:
Sunday, Alexa Olesen at the Associated Press wrote an item headlined "One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls." My immediate comeback: "43-60 million Chinese girls aborted because they were of the 'wrong' gender or would have violated the one-child policy were not available for comment."
While nowhere near as odious as Nick Kristof's "Mao Tse-tung wasn't all that bad; look what he did for Chinese women" conclusion at the end of a book review on Mao's murderous legacy almost six years ago, Olesen gets into the neighborhood.
Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), yours truly noted an email from the Associated Press's Images Group which encouraged subscribing outlets to use its "iconic images and videos" to promote the 85th birthday of Fidel Castro, the "Legendary Cuban revolutionary and longtime leader."
Today, writing what may be the wire service's last calendar-driven excuse to heap praise on him while he is still alive, the AP's Peter Orsi described Cuban dictator Castro as a "revolutionary icon" with an "outsize persona," who in his prime was "a gregarious public speaker," and while in retirement remains a "prolific writer."
Communist Cuba's Castro brothers may be asking themselves why they need to engage in any propaganda on their own when they have Associated Press's Images Division promoting photos of Dear Leader Fidel Castro as "iconic" and the brutal Ché Guevera as a "revolutionary hero."
What follows is the text of an email NewsBusters and BizzyBlog commenter/correspondent Gary received from AP Images on Monday. It's so over the top that you almost wonder if it's a gag. This link proves that it's not. Here goes (complimentary words and descriptive flattery bolded by me):
“[E]ven with some state control, experts say, property sales could transform Cuba more than any of the economic reforms announced by President Raul Castro’s government,” Cave noted before noting unnamed “experts” who fear that “[t]he opportunities for profits and loans would be far larger than what Cuba’s small businesses offer… potentially creating the disparities of wealth that have accompanied property ownership in places like Eastern Europe and China.”
One can hardly imagine a newspaper running a headline that suggested a fascist society like Nazi Germany had its good points. Yet the New York Times has carved out a side industry in headlines that suggest a bright side to Communist tyranny in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
The latest came attached to art critic Holland Cotter’s 1,700-word review of “Ostalgia,” an exhibit of Soviet and post-Soviet art at the New Museum in Manhattan, splashed along the top fold of Friday’s Weekend Arts section: “When Repression Was a Muse.” “Ostalgia” is a coinage for the strange cultural nostalgia for Communism (i.e., inferior but somehow endearing cars like the East German Trabant) felt by some East Germans who found it hard to cope with the freedoms, opportunities, and responsibilities of a more capitalist society.
I've seen Associated Press reporters make absurd assertions before, but a statement written by Julie Pace and Vanessa Gera, who covered President Barack Obama's trip to Poland yesterday, has to be at or near the top of the list of all-time humdingers.
Polish Solidarity hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa did not meet with Obama yesterday. Wait until you see the sheer speculation as to why there was no meeting in the bolded sentence in the fourth paragraph of the following excerpt from the AP pair's Friday evening report:
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt marked the 50th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion as "one of the most infamous events in American history." In the report that followed, correspondent Mark Potter proclaimed: "This weekend Cuba is remembering a critical moment in history still felt today. Huge crowds have come out to celebrate in ways not seen here for years."
Sounding like he was reading a press release about the celebration, Potter declared: "In the Plaza of the Revolution, a massive display of military might and a celebration of Cuba's victory 50 years ago at the Bay of Pigs. The failed invasion planned by the CIA and backed by the US military is seen as a historic turning point for Fidel Castro." At no point in the story was the brutality of Castro's 50-year communist dictatorship mentioned.
But some of the labeling was overheated: “A secretive evangelical Christian organization that some say has a right-wing agenda.” When the Times says “some say,” it almost always means “liberals say,” and indeed, Oppenheimer’s source, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) tends to target conservatives with their complaints.
The Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who was finally captured on Monday, defied nearly everybody: the United States, the European Union and the African Union. But right to the end, Mr. Gbagbo had defenders in the West, and they notably included several prominent conservative Christians.
In response to a question from Klein about "the animosity between unions and workplaces" (that is what Klein says he said), Stern made an interesting assertion that most readers probably took at face value:
We grew up in that culture. In the '30s, people didn't want us to exist. We had to do sit-down strikes . . . we had socialist and communist tendencies. We grew up, to speak in Marxist terms, in a world with a lot more class struggle. It's not viewed through that light anymore.
Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, ABC’s World News on Wednesday informed viewers of display items for the National Archives planned for next month’s commemoration of President Reagan’s 100 th birthday. Anchor Diane Sawyer recounted that Reagan had made "handwritten changes" to his 1983 speech in which he called the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire." Sawyer:
New York Times reporter Edward Wong took an inordinately cheery look at a Maoist tourist attraction in the Chinese city of Yan’an in Friday’s “Revolution Isn’t a Party, But It Draws The Tourists.” The online headline was clearer: “China’s Red Tourism Taps Communist Pride for Profit.”
Wong described a botched performance of a re-enactment of “a crucial moment in the Chinese civil war, when the Kuomintang tried to overrun the Communists in 1947 in their mountain redoubt here. The show, complete with live explosions and a fighter jet that swoops down on a wire, takes place every morning on the outskirts of Yan’an, a dingy city of two million in the northern province of Shaanxi.
Capitalism is thriving in China, but red is far from dead, at least in Yan’an. “The Defense of Yan’an” is a recent addition to tourist attractions that try to evoke the glory days of the Communist Party, after its leaders entered Yan’an in 1936 following the Long March. Local officials and businesspeople are profiting handsomely from a boom in “red tourism,” in which Chinese, many of them young professionals, journey to famous revolutionary sites to rekindle their long-lost sense of class struggle and proletarian principles.
(first listing) "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero."
(third listing) "necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure."
One thus has to take the following sentence, the first in James's report, as a virtually explicit expression of admiration for the latest authoritarian moves by the country's "El Presidente," Hugo Chávez:
In a Reuters story ("Venezuela assembly gives Chavez decree powers"), reporters Daniel Wallis and Frank Jack Daniel took note of outraged "opponents who accuse him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship," relieving them of the responsibility for stating the obvious themselves.
Romero's item at the Times is particularly galling in its borderline admiration for the tactics employed by the man who is now Venzuela's virtual dictator (bold is mine):
A useful guideline in evaluating the significance of a national security-related news story first revealed by someone in the establishment press is whether other media outlets pick it up. If they don't, it's probably significant.
More sympathy from New York Times reporter Simon Romero for Lori Berenson, the American terrorist helper jailed in Peru, in a profile on Saturday’s front page, “Berenson Tries to Make Amends in Peru.” Romero attempted to make Berenson an object of sympathy, as he did in a profile earlier this year when she was released on parole.
Berenson was sentenced to life in prison in Peru in 1996 for being closely involved with the Marxist terrorists of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Berenson’s parole was greeted with public indignation, which Romero did his best to quell, calling her fiery claim at trial, that “There are no criminal terrorists in the M.R.T.A. It’s a revolutionary movement!” merely a “youthful outburst.” (Berenson was 26 at the time.) Instead Romero picked up on the angle of a poor, picked-on Berenson:
It seems that the Times's Michael Shear is disappointed that Dear Leader is yet again caught up in a "distraction" ("Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Distraction"). It's headlined in the item's browser window as "Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Controversy." Interesting edit, don't you think? If it's a "controversy," the President owns it. If it's a "distraction," well, it's an unfair intrusion. Clever.
Shear wrapped it in a narrative whose theme was that "It all felt vaguely familiar." Well, yeah. What's more than vaguely familiar has been the press's tendency to lament the distractions our supposedly otherwise focused like a laser beam chief executive must endure. On April 9, 2009 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that "The words 'Obama' and 'distraction' have both appeared in 2,425 articles in just the past 30 days; excluding duplicates, it's about 450."
In his blog entry, Shear listed many other awful distractions the president has encountered. What's interesting are how many of them escalated because of Obama or people working directly for him:
New York Times reporter Channing Joseph engaged in light-hearted humanizing of those stuffy Communists in Sunday’s Metro section, “Where Marxists Pontificate, And Play.” The worst thing Joseph can say about the gathering of supporters of tyrannical regimes at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan is that Communists have a reputation for “seriousness.”
There’s even a boring online slide show with cozy captions: “There are little hints of humor all around the Brecht Forum....” Judging by the photos, very little.
Try to imagine the Times getting so cozy among a group of mainstream Republicans, much less Tea Party supporters. Hanging out with the Communist group, Joseph posed no inconveniently challenging questions on the atrocities of Stalin, Mao, or Castro. Instead, “smiles abound” and gentleness reigns in this non-news news story.
If communists have a reputation for anything, it is seriousness. (And if you have seen old photos of Karl Marx, you know that he did not smile much.) But at the Brecht Forum, a community center on West Street where revolutionaries and radicals gather daily to ponder and to pontificate, they also play. (Smiles abound.)
There are so many problematic items in the establishment press's treatment of yesterday's "One Nation" rally in Washington that it's difficult to know where to begin.
So let's start at the very beginning. Among the many howlers in the coverage is a claim the Associated Press's Philip Elliott pass without response towards the end of his 12:21 p.m Saturday report (saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; bold is mine):
One Nation organizers said that they began planning their event before learning about Beck's rally and that their march is not in reaction to it.
It would appear that either Elliott felt that this statement would easily withstand scrutiny, and thus performed none himself, or that he knew better, and let it get into his report anyway.
Given the fact that so-called progressives have been continually monitoring Beck's activities and pronouncements for several years, One Nation's organizers would have to prove that they began substantively "planning their event" before November 21, 2009. Good luck with that.
A UK Independent item about an unreleased book by historian Frank Dikötter made me think about New York Times columnist NIcholas Kristof. Readers will see why shortly.
Amazon says that Dikötter's "Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962" will be released on September 28. The Independent's Arifa Akbar relays Dikötter's core conclusion that "At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years." This is a significantly higher number than the highest previous estimate of Jung Chang, who asserted in her 2005 book, "Mao: The Unknown Story," that "38 million people were starved and slave-driven to death in 1958-61." The seven million extra deaths would move Chang's 2005 total of "more than 70 million" into the neighborhood of 80 million, padding Mao's lead over Stalin and Hitler as the worst mass murderer in human history.
The Independent's Akbar also writes that "Mr. Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago." If true, this reflects a startling lack of curiosity.
I hope Nick Kristof is just a little curious, and will peruse what Mr. Dikötter has documented when it becomes available. Perhaps it will move him to reach conclusions a bit different from those he reached when he reviewed Chang's book in October 2005 (bolds are mine):
It's not a stretch to believe that the folks at the Associated Press would rather not report bad news from that communist workers' paradise known as Cuba.
Just look at how the wire service has dealt with clearly significant news about the island nation's economy. Though the news, carried originally at the Miami Herald, is three months old, the AP as best I can tell finally got around to writing a story about it late Friday, the beginning of a summer weekend when few are following the news closely. How convenient.
Here is some of what the Herald's Juan O. Tamay reported on April 19:
Raúl Castro admits that Cuba has one million excess jobs The figures on unproductive workers in the government and its enterprises surprised even some Cuban economists.
The stunning figure was revealed by Cuban leader Raúl Castro himself: The Cuban government and its enterprises might have more than one million excess workers on their payrolls.
Rush has spent a considerable portion of today's broadcast ripping into this article by Christine Stapleton of Cox Newspapers, and rightly so, for the first three of the four opening paragraphs that follow:
Despite the warnings of Dick Cheney, George Will, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the Russians are not drilling for oil off Cuba. Neither are the Chinese. In fact, no one — not even Cuba — is drilling for oil off Cuba.
The pesky and persistent rumor, bubbling back up with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is still nothing more than a pesky and persistent rumor — aired in 2008 by former Vice President Cheney (who got the misinformation from conservative columnist Will), repeated on Fox News and recently revived by conservative radio commentator Limbaugh, who told his listeners 10 days after the spill: "The Russians are drilling in a deal with the Cubans in the Gulf. The Vietnamese and Angola are drilling for oil in the Gulf in deals with the Cubans."
However, as oil from BP's exploded well continues surging from the Gulf floor and washing onto Panhandle beaches, the rumor is poised to become fact.
Late last year, a story carried by the wire service AFP reported on an announcement by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that his government would launch "a new chain of government-run, cut-rate retail stores that will sell everything from food to cars to clothing." Chavez reportedly said that these "discount socialist stores" would show people "what a real market is all about, not those speculative, money-grubbing markets, but a market for the people."
This initiative was on top of Chavez's creation of Mercal (link is to the Venezuelan home page, complete with "The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela" logo), a state-run network of grocery stores, seven years ago.
How is this great leap forward into state control working out? A June 18 Reuters dispatch carried at CNBC reports that the government can't even keep its food fresh. But that's okay. The wire service takes a while to get there, and even then a bit of interpretation is necessary, but eventually we learn that the Chavez "solution" to that thorny problem is to seize replacement goods from private merchants:
Hugo Chavez Spearheads Raids as Food Prices Skyrocket
Mountains of rotting food found at a government warehouse, soaring prices and soldiers raiding wholesalers accused of hoarding: Food supply is the latest battle in President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.