Skip to content


“Extreme Dishonesty”: The Guardian, Noam Chomsky, and Venezuela

Dissident Voice Article

By Media Lens

The headline of last Sunday’s Observer article on Venezuela set the tone for the slanted and opportunistic piece of political ‘reporting’ that followed: ‘Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for “assault” on democracy’.

And then the opening line launched into a barrage of spin: ‘Hugo Chávez has long considered Noam Chomsky one of his best friends in the west. He has basked in the renowned scholar’s praise for Venezuela’s socialist revolution and echoed his denunciations of US imperialism.’

The ironic sneer directed at the Venezuelan president apparently basking in Chomsky’s ‘praise’, and the sly hint of robotic ‘echoing’ of his buddy’s rants, were indicative of the bias, omissions and deceptions to follow.

Reporter Rory Carroll, the Guardian’s South America correspondent, had just interviewed Chomsky and set about twisting the conversation into a propaganda piece. (For non-UK readers who may not know: the Observer is the Sunday sister publication of the Guardian newspaper).

Carroll’s skewed view was clear and upfront in his article: ‘Chomsky has accused the socialist leader of amassing too much power and of making an “assault” on Venezuela’s democracy.’

As we will see shortly, this was a highly partial and misleading account of Chomsky’s full remarks, leading him to declare afterwards that the newspaper had displayed ‘extreme dishonesty’ and that Carroll’s article was ‘quite deceptive’.

The news hook was the publication of an open letter by Chomsky pleading for the release of Venezuelan judge María Lourdes Afiuni who is suffering from cancer. Afiuni, explains Carroll, ‘earned Chávez’s ire in December 2009 by freeing Eligio Cedeño, a prominent banker facing corruption charges.’ After just over a year in jail, awaiting trial on charges of corruption, the Venezuelan authorities ‘softened her confinement to house arrest’.

In the open letter, prepared together with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, Chomsky says:

Judge Afiuni had my sympathy and solidarity from the very beginning. The way she was detained, the inadequate conditions of her imprisonment, the degrading treatment she suffered in the Instituto Nacional de Orientación Femenina, the dramatic erosion of her health and the cruelty displayed against her, all duly documented, left me greatly worried about her physical and psychological wellbeing, as well as about her personal safety.

He concludes with the plea: ‘I shall keep high hopes that President Chávez will consider a humanitarian act that will end the judge’s detention.’

Towards the end of Carroll’s article, the journalist injected some token balance:

The Chávez government deserved credit for sharply reducing poverty and for its policies of promoting self-governing communities and Latin American unity, Chomsky said. “It’s hard to judge how successful they are, but if they are successful they would be seeds of a better world.”

But the blatant spin of the headline and the article’s lead paragraphs had already done the required job – President Chávez is so extreme that even that radical lefty Noam Chomsky, one of his best friends in the West, has now denounced him.

Chomsky Responds: ‘Extreme Dishonesty’ And A ‘Quite Deceptive’ Report

Activists and bloggers were quick to email Noam Chomsky to ask for his response to Rory Carroll’s article in the Observer. In particular, Chomsky replied as follows to one aggressive challenger who made a series of personal attacks on him:

Let’s begin with the headline: complete deception. That continues throughout. You can tell by simply comparing the actual quotes with their comments. As I mentioned, and expected, the NY Times report of a similar interview is much more honest, again revealing the extreme dishonesty of the Guardian.

I’m sure you would understand if an Iranian dissident who charged Israel with crimes would also bring up the fact that charges from Iran and its supporters cannot be taken seriously in the light of Iran’s far worse abuses. If you don’t understand that, which I doubt, you really have some problems to think about. If you do understand it, as I assume, the same is true. That’s exactly why bringing up [the jailed US soldier Bradley] Manning (and much more) is highly relevant.

Joe Emersberger, an activist based in Canada, also approached Chomsky for a reaction to the piece:

The Guardian/Observer version, as I anticipated, is quite deceptive. The report in the NY Times is considerably more honest. Both omit much of relevance that I stressed throughout, including the fact that criticisms from the US government or anyone who supports its actions can hardly be taken seriously, considering Washington’s far worse record without any of the real concerns that Venezuela faces, the Manning case for one [Manning is the alleged source for huge amounts of restricted material passed on to WikiLeaks], which is much worse than Judge Afiuni’s. And much else. There’s no transcript, unfortunately. I should know by now that I should insist on a transcript with the Guardian, unless it’s a writer I know and trust.1

In fact the very next day after Carroll’s article appeared, and no doubt stung by the rising tide of internet-based criticism, the Guardian took the unusual step of publishing what is presumably a full transcript of the interview. (Also unusually, the Guardian did not allow reader comments to be posted under the transcript.)

But the transcript only served to prove Chomsky’s point about the ‘deceptive’ nature of the printed article. His comparisons to the justice system in the United States – in particular, the torture and abuse of Bradley Manning – were edited out. Carroll had asked him about the intervention of the Venezuelan executive in demanding a long jail sentence for Judge Afiuni. Chomsky replied:

It’s obviously improper for the executive to intervene and impose a jail sentence without a trial. And I should say that the United States is in no position to complain about this. Bradley Manning has been imprisoned without charge, under torture, which is what solitary confinement is. The president in fact intervened. Obama was asked about his conditions and said that he was assured by the Pentagon that they were fine. That’s executive intervention in a case of severe violation of civil liberties and it’s hardly the only one. That doesn’t change the judgment about Venezuela, it just says that what one hears in the United States one can dismiss.

Chomsky added:

Venezuela has come under vicious, unremitting attack by the United States and the west generally – in the media and even in policy. After all the United States sponsored a military coup [in 2002] which failed and since then has been engaged in extensive subversion. And the onslaught […] against Venezuela in commentary is grotesque.

Nothing of that appeared in the published Observer article.

Also given scant notice were Chomsky’s observations about positive developments in Venezuela and Latin America generally in trying to overcome the horrendous impacts of over five centuries of European, and latterly also US, colonialism and exploitation:

I think what’s happened in Latin America in the past 10 years is probably the most exciting and positive development to take place in the world. For 500 years, since European explorers came, Latin American countries had been separated from one another. They had very limited relations. Integration is a prerequisite for independence. Furthermore internally there was a model that was followed pretty closely by each of the countries: a very small Europeanised, often white elite that concentrated enormous wealth in the midst of incredible poverty. And this is a region, especially South America, which are very rich in resources which you would expect under proper conditions to develop far better than east Asia for example but it hasn’t happened.

The above quotes by Chomsky are only extracts of the longest answers, by far, that he gave in his interview with Carroll. But they didn’t fit the journalist’s agenda of setting up Chomsky in ‘denouncing’ Chávez’s supposed ‘assault’ on democracy.

Carroll once accurately declared that he is ‘not a champion of impartiality’. Indeed, Joe Emersberger has done much sterling work, exposing and challenging Carroll’s biased journalism from Latin America. Carroll and his editors clearly have supreme difficulty in answering Emersberger’s cogent emails, judging by their repeated failure to respond.

Readers may recall that the Guardian has a dubious track record in recording and accurately reflecting the views of Noam Chomsky; that is, when it doesn’t conform to the usual pattern of completely ignoring him. The Guardian’s smear of Chomsky in 2005 marked a real low in the history of this ‘flagship’ newspaper of ‘liberal’ journalism.2

Perhaps what is most noteworthy about this whole episode is best summed up by Emersberger:

This is not the first time Rory Carroll has taken a highly selective interest in Chomsky’s views on Latin America. When Chomsky signed an open letter in 2008 critical of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Rory Carroll also jumped all over it. At about the same time, Chomsky signed an open letter to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe about far more grave matters but it was ignored by the Guardian. At the time, I asked Rory Carroll and his editors why they ignored it but they never replied to me. They also ignored an open letter to Uribe signed by Amnesty International, Human Rights watch and various other groups. I asked Carroll and his editors why that open letter was ignored and – as usual – no one responded.

Concluding Remarks

Noam Chomsky was once famously described by the New York Times as ‘arguably the most important intellectual alive’. And yet, as mentioned earlier, the Guardian is normally happy to ignore him and his views. But when Chomsky expresses criticism of an official enemy of the West, he suddenly does exist and matter for the Guardian. That indicates what we already knew: that the liberal press is perfectly aware of the importance of Chomsky’s work. They just ignore it because it undermines the wrong interests.

Rory Carroll’s article is a wonderful glimpse of the kind of status Chomsky would enjoy if he promoted the myth of the basic benevolence of the West, and focused on the crimes of official enemies. He would be feted as one of the most insightful and brilliant political commentators the world had ever seen. He would be far and away the world’s number one political talking head. His face would be all over the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the BBC, the New York Times and so on.

There is a humbling lesson here also, of course, for those people who are all over the media. In important ways, the media is a demeritocracy.

  1. Joe Emersberger, ‘Chomsky Says UK Guardian Article “Quite Deceptive” About his Chavez Criticism,’ Z Blogs, July 4, 2011.
  2. See ‘Smearing Chomsky – Guardian in the Gutter,’ ‘Smearing Chomsky – The Guardian Backs Down, and the external ombudsman’s report.

View the original article at dissidentvoice.org

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Politics.

Tagged with , , , , .


0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.



Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's all happening now big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale". This site must be on some list at GCHQ/NSA as my AdSense revenue which I rely on has gone down by a third. Either people are not helping out by visiting sponsors sanymore or I am being blackballed like many YouTube sites.

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally I know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know some people in prison now for the content they had on their "secret private group". Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. If you really need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA/GCHQ to hack into. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and that the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install or other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day - your smart phone. If you are paranoid ensure that you can remove the battery when travelling around and do so to prevent GPS tracking or phone mast triangulation. Even with your phone in Flight mode or turned off, it can be turned on remotely and any features like front or back cameras, microphones and keylogging software can be installed to trace you.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering rubbish) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.

Why?

Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?



css.php