Media dog days, or an early start to the silly season

Oh my my, what heady days. The Summer Solstice is still 11 days away, and already the silly season has begun, if the whore media are any indication. Everyone’s in a tizzy over Chavecito’s latest declarations.

Let’s start with the big dogs, since it’s always the most comical to watch them chase their tails. At the Grey Lady’s House of Ill Repute, a certain well-known bowser, Mr. Romero, demonstrates how to do a backflip when trying to square the facts with the counterfactual prejudices one has been working so goshdarn hard to foster:


President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela started this month as the most prominent political supporter of Colombia’s largest rebel group and a fierce defender of his own overhaul of his nation’s intelligence services. But in the space of a few hours over the weekend, he confounded his critics by switching course on both contentious policies.

In doing so, Mr. Chávez displayed a willingness for self-reinvention that has served him well in times of crisis throughout his long political career. Time and again, he has gambled by pushing brash positions and policies, then shifted to a more moderate course when the consequences seemed too dire.

And while Mr. Chávez has been accused of speaking like an autocrat and of trying to rule like one, his recent actions confirm that Venezuela’s democracy, however fragile it may seem at times, still serves as a check on the president’s wishes.

Nice work, Simon! Project your flippy-floppy onto the president of Venezuela! How many rotations and twists did you do in order to create that work of art?

But of course, Slimin’ Simon just couldn’t resist the urge to go right on getting it all wrong, once the shock wore off:

The law would have forced judges in Venezuela to support the intelligence services and required citizens to cooperate with community-monitoring groups, provoking widespread fears that the government wanted to follow Cuba in creating a societywide network of informants whose main purpose was to nip antigovernment activities in the bud.

Ho hum, same old “He’s turning Venezuela into Cuba!” How predictable. Only, of course, one look around will tell you that Venezuela is not Cuba; for one thing, Venezuela isn’t isolated or blockaded or embargoed the way Cuba has been for the last 50 years. For another, its democracy is actually more robust, not more fragile, since Chavecito came to power. Citizen input and participation have never been greater, and neither have government accountability and transparency. But that’s not Simon’s preferred tune to dance to. He’d rather see a return to the Good Old Daze of Punto Fijo, no doubt–back when governments routinely suppressed critical articles in the media, and sent the army and the secret police out against the citizenry–all in the interests of protecting capitalism, which is what nobody at the NYT seems capable of distinguishing from democracy (with the possible exception of Paul Krugman, who has also been known to get it wrong where Chavecito is concerned.)

Next, the Chicago Trib dubs Chavecito “The Surprising Mr. Chavez”. The article is very childishly written, which I guess is inevitable when an author is factually challenged and there are no adults around to tell them to grow the fuck up. It repeats every current lie from the “financing the FARC” to the “arms race” that ain’t. No wonder the author is so surprised. If they had been following actual events, instead of figments and fantasies, nothing that’s been said or done by Chavecito would be the least bit surprising. (Oh, and while we’re on the subject of factually challenged, it might behoove the ditzy columnist to learn the name of the show: It’s Alo Presidente, not Hola Presidente!)

Meanwhile, Time’s resident dormouse, Tim Padgett, is asking the question “A Kinder, Gentler Hugo Chavez?” The question mark, and the scowly photo of you-know-who, are meant to direct us to the “correct” answer, which is “Not on your everloving life!” But Padgett actually surprised ME a bit by quoting Larry Birns of COHA, an ordinarily reliable source, practically right off the top and throughout the piece. Dare I hope? No, because it looks like Birns has caught the bug, too. Birns claims the “new” Chavez is changing his tune to keep from giving the opposition a foothold in the next election (which I’m sure surprised Padgett some, since he usually sounds about ready to write off Venezuela as an incipient dictatorship, too.) Saaay, I wonder if Larry Birns is trying to increase his exposure and prestige as a source by telling the Big Media what they want to hear? Can’t be ruled out, since COHA usually doesn’t get that many quotes from the whores and is in perpetual danger of being marginalized as a result. Maybe it, too, felt a sudden need to “moderate” its tone.

Finally, bringing up the rear, we have–ho, hum–one more aging, expat beauty queen trying to appear relevant, if not preternaturally young. If you want to go into a diabetic coma or need an emetic, here–sugary tripe, freshly reconstituted and warmed over just for you.

So who gets it right? Stephen Lendman, for the second straight week in a row. He tackles the changes to the Intelligence Law with a rational tone, and zero spin. But then again, he doesn’t write for the corporate media. I hope he never does, because he’s the last person I want to see chasing his tail.

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