FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mainstream Media Fails Itself

 

On February 29, Richard Boucher from the U.S. Department of State released a press release claiming that Jean Bertrand Aristide had resigned as president of Haiti and that the United State facilitated his safe departure. Within hours the major broadcast news stations in the United States including CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS, and NPR were reporting that Aristide had fled Haiti. An Associated Press release that evening said “Aristide resigns, flees into exile.” The next day headlines in the major newspapers across the country, including the Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, and Atlanta Journal Constitution, all announced “Aristide Flees Haiti.” The Baltimore sun reported, “Haiti’s first democratically-elected president was forced to flee his country yesterday like despots before him.”

However on Sunday afternoon February 29, Pacific News network with reporters live in Port-au-Prince Haiti were claiming that Aristide was forced to resign by the US and taken out of the Presidential Palace by armed US marines. On Monday morning Amy Goodman with Democracy Now! news show interviewed Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Waters said she had received a phone call from Aristide at 9:00 AM EST March 1 in which Aristide emphatically denied that he had resigned and said that he had been kidnapped by US and French forces. Aristide made calls to others including TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, who verified congresswomen Waters’ report.

Mainstream corporate media was faced with a dilemma. Confirmed contradictions to headlines reports were being openly revealed to hundreds of thousands of Pacifica listeners nationwide. By Monday afternoon mainstream corporate media began to respond to the charges. Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News, 6:30 PM voiced, “Haiti in crisis. Armed rebels sweep into the capital as Aristide claims US troops kidnapped him; forced him out. The US calls that nonsense.” Fox News Network with Brit Hume reported Colin Powell’s comments, “He was not kidnapped. We did not force him on to the airplane. He went on to the airplane willingly, and that’s the truth. Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call added, “Aristide, …was a thug and a leader of thugs and ran his country into the ground.” The New York Times in a story buried on page 10 reported that “President Jean-Bertrand Aristide asserted Monday that he had been driven from power in Haiti by the United States in “a coup,” an allegation dismissed by the White House as “complete nonsense.”

Mainstream media had a credibility problem. Their original story was openly contradicted. The kidnap story could be ignored or back-paged as was done by many newspapers in the US. Or it can be framed within the context of a US denial and dismissed. Unfortunately, the corporate media seems not at all interested in conducting an investigation into the charges, seeking witnesses, or verifying contradictions. Nor is the mainstream media asking or answering the question of why they fully accept the State Department’s version of the coup in the first place. Corporate media certainly had enough pre-warning to determine that Aristide was not going to willingly leave the country. Aristide had been saying exactly that for the past month during the armed attacks in the north of Haiti. Aristide was interviewed on CNN February 26. He explained that the terrorists, and criminal drug dealers were former members of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), which had led the coup in 1991 killing 5,000 people. Aristide believed that they would kill more people if a coup was allowed to happen. It was also well known in media circles that the US Undersecretary of State Roger Noriega for Latin America was a senior aide to former Senator Jesse Helms, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee was a longtime backer of Haitian dictator Jean Claude Duvalier and an opponent of Aristide. These facts alone should have been a red flag regarding the State Department’s version.

As a former priest and liberation theologist, Jean Bertrand Aristide stood for grassroots democracy, alleviation of poverty, and God’s love for all human beings. He challenged the neo-liberal globalization efforts of the Haitian upper class and their US partners. For this he was targeted by the Bush administration. That the US waited until the day after Aristide was gone to send in troops to stabilize the country proves intent to remove him from office.

Mainstream media had every reason to question the State Department’s version of the coup in Haiti, but choose instead to report a highly doubtful cover story. We deserve more from our media than their being stenographers for the government. Weapons of mass destruction aside, we need a media that looks for the truth and exposes the contradictions in the fabrications of the powerful.

PETER PHILLIPS is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored a media research organization.

 

More articles by:

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He wrote his dissertation on the Bohemian Club in 1994.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail