Closing Media Outlets Archives

January 2, 2007

And You Thought Fox News Was Nuts

Big media outlets are up in arms over the Venezuelan government’s decision not to renew the license for TV network Radio Television Caracas (RCTV). The reports have seriously watered down the charges against the station. The New York Times describes the situation as a political beef with the station’s “editorial policies,” while the Independent calls it retaliation against RCTV “for being critical” of Chavez. Sort of like Timothy McVeigh was “critical” of the U.S. government.

Here’s a rundown how the station spent its spring break a few years back:

> In April 2002, coup organizers plan an anti-government march in downtown Caracas, attracting thousands of demonstrators. RCTV and other private stations encourage Venezuelans to participate. At the last minute, the route of the march is redirected toward the presidential palace, and mercenaries begin firing on the crowd, killing 18.

> Amidst the bloody chaos, rebel military leaders kidnap President Chavez and transport him to a Caribbean island. RCTV and other private stations broadcast a statement that Chavez had…um… resigned.

> Interim President Pedro Carmona (Pedro the Brief) promptly suspends the Venezuelan Constitution, dissolves Congress and the Supreme Court, and basically appoints himself emperor. RCTV president Marcel Granier is there for the fun .

> Coup leaders appear on television and explain how it all went down. They single out RCTV, thanking the network for its assistance.

> RCTV calls on Venezuelans to rat out friends and neighbors who had been associated with the Chavez administration and turn them in for arrest.

> When word gets out to the public, via international reports, that this had been a coup, not a resignation, RCTV bans its reporters from covering the story.

> 24 hours later, after widespread popular protests surround the presidential palace and the military captures coup leaders, RCTV suspends its news programming in favor of an emergency cartoon marathon.

If this happened in the U.S., station officials would be in jail or at Guantanamo. Suspending their license seems like a sane, if merciful, step.

January 5, 2007

Miami Herald Lectures on the Role of Press & the State

In an editorial today, the Miami Herald predictably misrepresents the RCTV controversy, labeling it as retaliation against broadcasters “who don't agree with [Chavez’s] ‘revolutionary' vision,” without clarifying the role the station played in an attempt to violently overthrow the state. Small dif.

While the anti-Venezuela vitriol comes as no surprise from the Herald, its strong stand in favor independent media certainly does. Remember it was only four short months ago that three of the Herald’s own Latin America reporters were exposed to be on the payroll of the Bush administration, paid to write anti-Cuba propaganda.

At the time, Herald publisher Jesus Diaz took the responsible step and fired the three, but under pressure from the crazy Miami Cubans, Diaz himself was subsequently forced to resign, and the journalists were rehired.

January 7, 2007

Press Outlets All Distort OAS Statement in the Same Way

It’s as if they all meet over brunch.

So Friday, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza weighed in on Venezuela’s decision not to renew RCTV’s broadcast license with a carefully worded statement. Insulza recognized the “serious political accusations against the broadcasting station, ranging from its support of the frustrated military coup of 2002 to a systematic policy against the democratic process,” but warned that the administrative move “gives the appearance of a form of censorship against freedom of expression.” Insulza emphasized that his comments are not related to the “any legal considerations related to this type of measure,” but rather the “political repercussions that such a measure could bring about.” His statement concludes with the request that Venezuela’s news media “exercise its role to inform in a truthful, free and objective manner that serves all citizens.”

So it’s not the decision that is problematic, it’s the process. A measured statement of a complex situation, no? So how was it covered? Um…with slightly less nuance.

Continue reading "Press Outlets All Distort OAS Statement in the Same Way" »

RCTV & The Independence of the OAS

As a follow up to the post below, it's quite likely that Insulza weighed in on the RCTV controversy at all under pressure from the U.S. You may remember that when he was running for the seat, the U.S. only agreed to support him at the last minute if he promised to release a statement threatening to bird-dog Venezuela’s government.

In an internal e-mail leaked to the press at the time, then-Assistant Secretary of State and right wing nut job Roger Noriega gushed that "Insulza accepted without hesitation our exhortation that he met [sic] a public statement alluding to the Chávez threat."

January 15, 2007

Geezers, Putschistas & Other LA Stories


In the olden days, the purpose of op-eds was to sit opposite the editorial page and presumably present an alternative view of world affairs than you’d get from that same bunch of geezers who spout the conventional wisdom week in and week out.

The Los Angeles Times seems to be following the lead of crap-tastic opinion pages like the Washington Post with a new take on the old concept: fresh faces that pretty much back the geezers up. Sort of a win-win for those directly involved. The kids get some ink and the geezers look all wise and incontrovertible.

Today, the Times serves up Alexandra Starr, a freelance writer and “former Organization of American States fellow.” Her thesis is that Chavez is only in it for the power (just like, she writes, basically every other president in Venezuelan history), that Venezuelan voters are only in it for the handouts (they, she knows, will turn on him just like all other Venezuelan electorates). Starr is basically saying what 96% of LA Times opinion pieces have said in the last eight years. (We’re not making that number up—there was a study.)

Continue reading "Geezers, Putschistas & Other LA Stories" »

January 16, 2007


In less than 1400 words, Venezuelan-American turned Venezuelan-again writer Eva Golinger clarifies all your questions about recent controversies.

January 20, 2007

The Heartland Speaks

Perhaps the only Buffalonian to visit Venezuela gets it:

Proponents of the authoritarian thesis also point to the government's refusal to renew the license of a Caracas-based TV station because of its critical stance toward the president. This proposition, quite honestly, is laughable.

The vast majority of media outlets in Venezuela deride the president and his administration daily. The reality is that the station in question was implicated in the planning and execution of a coup attempt against the government in April 2002 that left 19 innocent civilians dead.

Many people do not agree with the policies of the Venezuelan government because they understand them to be economically unsound. Such positions are worthy of debate. But to raise allegations of authoritarianism based on bias and paranoia is simply incorrect.

January 29, 2007

"The New York Times Will Do Everything for Latin America Except Visit It"


The voice of Stewart, the acumen of Zinn, the sardonic dig of Wilde, Larry Birns is a goddamned UNESCO World Heritage Site of analysis. You can hear him today on NPR’s On the Media on Venezuela and the RCTV controversy. The transcript is here . But take the time to click the “listen” button. It’s worth it.

February 2, 2007

The Counter Spin Zone

My mama always said I had a face for radio! My Counter Spin interview will be broadcast next week on over 100 stations across the US and Canada. We discuss Venezuela and the mixed up media messages here in the U.S. You can see if when and where it will be airing in your hometown here. Or if you are an impatient type, you can listen to it right now, here.

The Venezuela discussion starts at the 20-minute mark. But the first half of the show is a tribute to the great Molly Ivins, so check out the whole thing if you can.

February 7, 2007

Slipping Past the Censors


I imagine these are hectic days over at the Houston Chronicle, what with their diaper-wearing rabbit-boiling bitch-slapping space daughter returning to town and all. But shepherding history requires constant vigilance. Turn your back for just one moment, and suddenly your opinion page gets littered with reason.

How else to explain this piece from former Associated Press correspondent Bart Jones? Dude deftly puts the “Op” back into “Op-Ed,” and defies the conventional media take on Venezuela.

On the press: “Venezuela's media, owned largely by the country's wealthy elites, are arguably the most rabidly antigovernment media in the world.”

On the “muzzling” of a TV station: “If RCTV were operating in the United States, it's doubtful its actions would last more than a few minutes with the FCC.”

On the lurch toward one-party rule: “Chavez is not creating a single-party state as widely reported but is melding together an amorphous array of parties that support him. He is not outlawing opposition parties.”

On commie-style property takeovers:
“Chavez also is not nationalizing the entire economy without compensation to companies, as Castro did in the early days of the Cuban revolution, but rather is buying back a few key strategic utilities such as the CANTV telecommunications company…”

Sure, all this is “accurate.” Sure, it’s all backed up by “facts.” Sure, the author “knows” Venezuela in the sense that he lived and worked there for years. But he certainly doesn’t know what he’s supposed to know about Venezuela.

Every newspaper in America should be on guard. In a sense we’re all just one incontinent rocket vixen away from total message meltdown.

February 15, 2007

Slipping Past The Censors II. And III.

We were shocked last week when Bart Jones’ excellent Op-Ed was printed in the Houston Chronicle. Doubly-so today to see it picked up by the Providence Journal and in longer form in the National Catholic Reporter (the latter is subscription-required. Sorry).

What’s gotten into these editors?

February 19, 2007

A Journalist’s Half-Assed Clarification on RCTV

This month The Nation publishes a piece by Victor Navasky, who participated in a recent Committee to Protect Journalists delegation to Venezuela. The group was there to examine the government’s decision not to renew the license of the RCTV television station, which participated in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.

Navasky seems to understand just how crazy bad RCTV and other Venezuelan outlets are. Going in, he writes, “I shared Naomi Klein's view that it was ‘absurd to treat Chávez as the principal threat to a free press in Venezuela. That honor clearly goes to the media owners themselves.’”

Which is why it’s so maddening that those views never made it into the CPJ report. According to Navasky, here’s why:

Were they [RCTV] involved in the coup against Chávez? Probably. However, was that grounds for revocation of a license or grounds for prosecuting them as coupsters when it happened? Did they break the law of social responsibility? Probably. . .But we also decided that we did have enough facts to sound the alarm on the lack of transparency surrounding the decision not to renew RCTV's concession.

Ok…so the CPJ report simply fails to note that the station was “probably” involved in the violent overthrow of the state, instead saying that RCTV “is known for its ardent opposition views”? Call me crazy, but those are two very different things, no?

One week later, CPJ put out another release coining a lame term, “democratator,” defined as “popularly elected autocrats,” to describe Chavez and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Uh huh. These guys have a political agenda. Victor Navasky was used.

A Pop Quiz

Question: Which South American president gags newspapers from reporting on corruption, jails journalists without trial, gives himself the power to rule by decree, overrides Supreme Court decisions by fiat, refers to human rights monitors as “political agitators in the service of terrorism,” and amends the Constitution to allow himself a new term?

Answer: Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe. Last week Condoleezza Rice praised Uribe’s “commitment to social, economic and judicial reform that she hoped would improve the lives of all Colombians” as the U.S. pledged an additional 3.9 billion dollars in “aid” to South America’s most repressive regime.

Just sayin'.

February 25, 2007

One Crisis at a Time

The International Crisis Group has one major lesson for Latin America: If you want to do things in an un-democratic way, do it big. Make it so huge and mind-blowingly horrifying that they will be forced to ignore you.

How else to interpret this 40-page analysis of the “stability” of Venezuela? Just about every major concern they raise is happening elsewhere in Latin America, only in exponentially more blatant and brutal ways. A few examples:

Judicial Independence: The ICG report is concerned because three years ago, Venezuela’s National Assembly increased the number of seats on the Supreme Court. This was all carried out through a months-long debate, vigorous press discussion and a transparent vote.

Is their concern legit? Mabye, but you’d think they would have been downright appalled when the following year then-President of Ecuador Lucio Guitierez unceremoniously sacked his entire Supreme Court--without debate, in the middle of the night--and replaced them with his own cronies, with nary a peep from the press, much less any “concern” from the ICG.

Continue reading "One Crisis at a Time" »

May 14, 2007

RCTV Finally Screws the Putsch


What’s the point of owning a multi-million dollar TV network if you can’t even use it to violently overthrow your government? That’s the question posed by Venezuelan media mogul Marcel Granier in his recent trip to the US to shore up support for his…um…plight?

After a number of half-crazed attempts at journalistic jihad, Granier’s TV station is not going to get its government-issued license renewed this month. And of course the Washington Post’s three-quarters-crazed deputy editorial page editor is bravely standing by his side. According to Jackson Diehl, the license issue is an attempt by Hugo Chavez to muzzle dissenting media voices and “proof” that he’s a “dictator.” Diehl longs for the day that Chavez stands trial for “human rights crimes,” over the whole thing blah blah blah.

Diehl, of course, is the same jackass who last week chided Democrats for being tough on Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe, just because his government happens to be linked to the little problem of mass graves that keep popping up all over the goddamned place. So you kind of get where he’s coming from: Inverse-Priorityville.

If Venezuela’s private TV networks are a Rupert Murdoch wet dream of smut & barely-there journalistic standards, RCTV has stained the sheets beyond all human recognition. (Gross. Sorry). When African leaders visit, RCTV “news” shows dub “wooga wooga” gorilla noises into the background to joke that black people are monkeys. (Haha!) The station’s graphics department uses Photoshop to digitally fabricate government scandals (The Oil Wars blog has video of one hilariously lame recent example).

Still, in Venezuela, this kind of crap always has and continues to be standard practice for the nightly news. But there are a few obvious-even-to-autistic-toddlers thresholds that productive members of constitutional democracies can’t cross.

Honestly, imagine if Katie Couric had done: this. As far as we’d be able to guess, she’d be in Guantanamo right now thumbing through her precious bible that some solider had peed on three days earlier. But we’d never know for sure because she’d have been denied all access to her family, a lawyer, the media, and the quaint notion of Constitutional protections that we used to enjoy as a society before everything changed™. We’d have nothing but semi-fond memories and a pirated DVD of her colonoscopy to remind us she ever existed at all.

Marcel Granier, on the other hand, is on a worldwide publicity tour. His one-part slimy/ one-part seditious little TV station isn’t even being shut down. He won’t have access to the public airwaves after this month, but he remains free to move his entire apparatus to a private cable station and hire Janet Jackson’s left breast as a foreign correspondent.

Yeesh. I don’t want to give him any ideas.

Korecshun: A sharp-eyed reader noted that it's J.J.'s right breast, not her left, that's the media star (Thanks dad!). BoRev.Net regrets the error.

May 25, 2007

'08 candidates clench collective nut sack

A wise friend once told me that thanks to America's military industrial complex, anyone running for office must have at least one war per candidacy. We've already seen this with all the dick-waving on Iran. Now the cocks are pointed at Venezuela, thanks to a horrifically ignorant Senate resolution sponsored by '08 hopefuls and potential hopefuls Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Hagel, McCain, and Obama.


The resolution just got unanimous approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (just to jog your memory, that includes all of these people, among them Biden, Dodd, Obama, and past presidential would be dick wagger John Kerry...). The Venezuela Information Office is asking for you to make calls before it gets to the floor (their "ask" is reprinted after the jump). Go ahead, give those schlongs the Bobbitt treatment.

Continue reading "'08 candidates clench collective nut sack" »

May 28, 2007

Tongues Wag, Readers Gag

Well RCTV is off the air, and the U.S. press is reacting with typical nuance. Just don’t don’t go outside today or you might get your lights knocked out from the skychunks falling to the ground.

In case you think today’s coverage in the New York Times might be lacking some key context, media watchdog group FAIR pieces some together for you here.

May 30, 2007

Bart Jones in LA Times, setting record straight on RCTV

Bart Jones has practically the only mainstream U.S. media analysis of what really happened with the RCTV license over at the Los Angeles Times op-ed page. Jones concludes:

Would a network that aided and abetted a coup against the government be allowed to operate in the United States? The U.S. government probably would have shut down RCTV within five minutes after a failed coup attempt — and thrown its owners in jail. Chavez's government allowed it to continue operating for five years, and then declined to renew its 20-year license to use the public airwaves. It can still broadcast on cable or via satellite dish.

Granier and others should not be seen as free-speech martyrs. Radio, TV and newspapers remain uncensored, unfettered and unthreatened by the government. Most Venezuelan media are still controlled by the old oligarchy and are staunchly anti-Chavez.

If Granier had not decided to try to oust the country's president, Venezuelans might still be able to look forward to more broadcasts of "Radio Rochela."

May 31, 2007

The Onion meets Black Flag meets a cold brew

The Onion does its hilarious "man on the street" bit about the golpista licensegate.

The best one? "It's heartening to see people take to the streets over something they're so passionate about, like television."

We're gonna have a TV party tonight. Who's bringing the brews?

Who's got Venezuelan cable? I totally can't wait to see what RCTV says on its free and uncensored cable show, which will operate without any interference from the government. It was such a drag having to see them on the PUBLICLY subsidized PUBLIC airwaves... yeah, that 20 year PUBLIC concession was such a drag. It was pretty fuckin rad to see a PRIVATE TV station aid a coup against the PUBLICLY ELECTED government on the PUBLIC airwaves, but I'm sure anyone rich enough to think that was a good use of the PUBLIC airwaves can afford the PRIVATE cable fee.

Jeez, putschists ain't what they used to be. They're always wantin a government handout to do their putschery. Whatever happened to DIY?

June 7, 2007

Mein Gott!

Guardian columnist Richard Gott has the balls to say what others haven’t on the RCTV flap: this is a class, race and power controversy more than anything else. Money Quote:

RCTV was not just a politically reactionary organisation which supported the 2002 coup attempt against a democratically elected government - it was also a white supremacist channel.
Clap clap clap clap clap.

June 15, 2007

Hey! Anderson Cooper Never Told Me That

I know we’re supposed to hate Al Jazeera what with their “two sides to every story” approach to journalism and all, but this piece on the RCTV case just seems better than others I’ve seen. Don’t report me, pls.

And they’re pretty good sports too, when they’re not totally undermining the Global War on Terror, that is. In case you missed it, here’s Samantha Bee giving their DC studios a makeover last December.

Somebody’s Going To Lose Their Job

Pity the dude at the Topeka Capitol-Journal that has to go through the Letters to the Editor this week. The town where families still fight over Darwin, desegregation and mullets printed an Op-Ed by an academic. From New York City. On Venezuela.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, the link might help: here.

July 5, 2007

Oligarch Cat Fight in the NYT

Well hammer me down. We actually get some scoop in the New York Times’ Venezuela coverage today. Latin America’s laziest little correspondent comes in with a “rare interview” with Latin America’s richest man. Simon Romero doesn’t specify whether it was “rare” to land an interview with media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, or just “rare” that he was actually quoting someone other than his vacation porter or those random Cubans who show up on his doorstep. But we’ll keep the snark to a min here, because we can all learn something from his piece.

Cisneros, aside from being a Bush (senior) fishing buddy, a right-wing ideologue and a mockable caricature of fat cat jackassery, also runs one of Venezuela’s national private opposition TV networks. You may not have read lately, but yeah, they exist, and thrive, and oppose, and contort. All that U.S. press blather about RCTV being the “last independent broadcast station,” shockingly, turns out to be talking points from the American Enterprise Institute! But Cisneros’ Venevision, the all “news” Globovision, alongside untold local and regional opposition press, keeps on truckin’, a convoy of contemptibility.

Of course, you have to read between the lines figure it all out. Romero, in character, mocks Cisneros and his “reconciliation with Chavez,” even as the old tycoon tries to explain that his only strategy shift has been to criticize Chavez without calling for his assassination. He pokes at Chavez, describing the president’s comment that he respects journalists who respect Constitutional, rather than violent, political change as “boast[ing] of Mr. Cisneros’s acquiescence to his authority.” But whatevs. We also get good scoop, like:

>>> Cisneros is related by marriage to RCTV owner Marcel Granier--something I never knew before.

>>> Granier disses his own cousin by comparing him references to…Nazi sympathizers! Of course; and

>>> Granier no longer lives in Venezuela, preferring to divide his time between estates “in New York, Spain and the Dominican Republic.”

You know, like Anne Frank.

August 12, 2007

Only the Names Have Been Changed

Haha no they haven’t. The CIA asset who funneled your tax dollars into anti-leftist propaganda activities during Iran-Contra? Turns out he’s a Venezuelan. Today, he’s the president of RCTV. Seriously.

August 14, 2007

Now They Tell Us

From the International Business Times:

“Most consumers of the international media will be surprised to find that the controversy over Venezuela's oldest TV station, RCTV, is still raging. We were repeatedly informed that President Hugo Chavez "shut down" the station on May 27th. But in fact the station was never ‘shut down’…”

About Closing Media Outlets

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to BoRev.Net in the Closing Media Outlets category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Chavez Is Ruling By Decree is the previous category.

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