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Stenographers to Power:
By Mike Whitney
US Press Torpedoes Aristide
March 10, 2004
"The unconstitutional removal of any leader cannot be condoned."
The most extraordinary part of the coup in Haiti was not the fact that the Bush Administration was directly involved in the deposing of a democratically elected leader. No, that type of criminal behavior is almost a requirement of the office at this point in time. The real surprise is that not one major newspaper in the country has spoken out in favor of restoring Aristide to power.
Percival Patterson, Caribbean Community President
"The international community must not be seen to be wavering in its commitment to democracy and respect for the rule of law, particularly in the face of anti-democratic forces."
S. African Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
"This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine."
Prospero; "the Tempest"
This should be considered a positive development.
Many of us have tried to make the case that the major media are the solitary province of corporate America, providing a world view that tilts dramatically rightward and exclusively reports news that doesn't infringe on their commercial interests. This can be a tough sell. Many dismiss the notion as flagrantly conspiratorial.
The coup in Haiti proves otherwise.
The media has responded with such frightening uniformity that even skeptics must be shocked.
Do we need to reiterate that the duly elected leader of the country, Jean Bertrand Aristide, is now under virtual "house arrest" after being trundled off in the middle of the night by an armed contingent of US Marines?
Should we emphasize that he was elected by a margin of 92% by the Haitian people in an election that was not contested, despite the conspicuous attempts by the NY Times and the Associated Press to create that impression? (In fact, only the Senatorial elections were challenged; Aristide's election was never in doubt)
And yet these salient facts have made no impression on America's recalcitrant press.
Perhaps, they have taken the Dick Cheney position that, "Aristide had worn out his welcome."
Mr. Cheney should be grateful that that is not the accepted standard for determining one's tenure in elected office.
Or, perhaps, our "free press" has adopted the Judith Miller philosophy of journalism, "My job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself."
Has there ever been a more apt description of a stenographer? The only question we could possibly have for Miller is, "Were you sitting on Rummy's lap when you were taking notes on the apocryphal tales that led the country to war?"
But, Miller is no exception, and Haiti proves that. The entire media system is rotten to its "capital-drunk" core.
The astonishing sameness of reporting on the details of the coup, and the predictable omissions of any US involvement, would have impressed the editors of Pravda. No brave soul has broken from the "party line." No one dare speak out for something as inconsequential as democracy.
Isn't it amazing that how similar the "corporate press" is to the media in totalitarian states?
Joseph Pulitzer said it best, "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself."
Originally puplished at counterpunch and reproduced on Africa Speaks with permission from the author.