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In Venezuela, Reality TV

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Posted on Jun 9, 2007
AP Photo / Fernando Llano

Venezuelan riot police gather en masse on May 27 to face protesters rallying against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s decision not to renew RCTV’s license. The station closed the following day.

By Rosa Miriam Elizalde

CARACAS—On Sunday night, May 27, at 11:59, the big switch took place. RCTV broadcast the National Hymn of Venezuela, sung by faces as pale as those you would find in any country, but this one a country Alejo Carpentier called the telluric compendium of the Americas. One second later, the insignia for Venezuelan Social Television (TVES) appeared on screen. A song from the street, a popular guaracha, reminded anyone listening “that everything comes to an end,” and over Mount Avila the fireworks flashed. 

Recently, Venezuela has lived a kind of schizophrenia. Anyone following the news of the nonrenewal of RCTV’s license would inevitably conclude—informed by the dominant, opposition-controlled newspapers and broadcasters—that the Bolivarian revolution has lost its grip and that the country teeters on the edge of civil war, its institutions shattered. Racist insults, poorly disguised calls to violence, shouts and wails have come from Globovisión and RCTV as well as from El Nacional and El Universal, the broadcasters and newspapers with the largest audiences and print runs in the country. 

Nevertheless, the street held no surprises, only the timid disturbance of the afternoon rain and of the Chavistas’ Sunday night fiesta on the grounds of the Teresa Carreño Theater, a party which did not dull the sound of smashing bottles, pelting stones, and even gunshots fired at the Metropolitan Police overseeing an opposition march in front of the headquarters of the National Commission on Telecommunications, or CONATEL. Any sociology student would have noticed the enormous difference between the faces that celebrated the end of RCTV’s concession and those attacking the state in RCTV’s final broadcast: on one side, a rainbow from Caracas; on the other, a tour group from Key Biscayne? 

On Sunday, RCTV broadcast an 18-hour marathon that fostered distrust of the authorities and the sensation of living under immediate threat, attempting to psychologically poison and wear down both the television audience and the dozens who attended the live studio event. Irresponsibly, Globovisión—a network occasionally involved with RCTV—covered the broadcast and lent a funereal mood to its news coverage. Both private broadcasters did their part to escalate emotions. Not only did they ask citizens to defy the police and take to the streets, but they also lied, downplaying popular support for the government’s decision and stating that 80 percent of the country was against terminating the license of the pro-coup network.

Jesse Chacón, the minister of Popular Power for Telecommunication and Information Technology, commented on the paradox that sustains this schizophrenia between reality and its deformed reflection in the media, a reflection supported by private Venezuelan commercial interests. “It’s unfathomable. They complain about the lack of freedom of expression and they do it through public programming, yelling at all hours of the day, without hosting other points of view and without presenting even one example of news or opinion that the government has censored,” Chacón said.


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RCTV’s situation would never have received such attention if others were not so bent on focusing disinformation on the Bolivarian government. It is hardly the first time RCTV has vacated the national frequency spectrum—the network was closed on three occasions, in governments previous to Hugo Chavez’s—nor is Venezuela the first to decide to maintain control of its airwaves. In fact, the country is following the European television model of public ownership practiced by Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, to name a few. This model differs from commercial television practiced in North America, where what sells is good and what doesn’t is bad. 

In ancient Greece, when a crime was committed, punishment was meted out by the sword. Today we understand the difference between the means of punishment and the end result. In Venezuela, as Eleazar Díaz Rangel, director of the newspaper Últimas Noticias, advised, this distinction remains perfectly clear. From now on, he affirmed in his Sunday column, “The owners of RCTV can no longer use Channel 2 to inform and misinform according to their political or commercial interests. In this sense, the decision affects them, but the possibility of working through other means—television, radio, business interests—is not denied them.” In the game of manipulation, Marcel Granier, the owner of the network, has come out as a strong candidate for canonization by major international media, which paint him as a victim. No one now remembers RCTV’s suicidal rallying calls in support of the coup of April 2002, or its obstinate refusal to broadcast information about the popular protests that made possible Chavez’s return to Miraflores. 

With Granier as the hero of the bonfire of political vanities, a new villain has appeared—the businessman Gustavo Cisneros.  A new and unexpected kindling feeds the fires of the opposition demonstrations in eastern Caracas: copies of the best-seller “Cisneros: Un Empresario Global,” the biography of the owner of television station Venevisión, whose license was renewed on May 28.

Venevisión participated with RCTV and other private television stations in the coup against President Chávez in April 2002. The memories of journalists, television executives and coup plotters congratulating each other for their close collaboration in the coup are still fresh in the minds of Venezuelans. 

In 2003, Cisneros met with Chávez and with ex-President Jimmy Carter.  Since then, he has changed his violently anti-Chavista rhetoric and his calls for civil disobedience, while maintaining his criticism of the Venezuelan government.  Shortly afterwards, another VHF national television station, Televen, followed suit.

Venevisión and Televen are proof positive that the end of RCTV´s license to transmit is not the nationalization of the mass media in Venezuela. In this country, more than others in Latin America, there is a plethora of media:  privately owned commercial media (80 percent), state-owned media, public service media (TVES) and community media.

Why ignore this reality?  Why do so few now remember that Venevisión and Televen are still there, opponents of Chávez, but yet with their licenses extended? 

Why then does the Spanish newspaper El Pais and others that offer Granier ample space in their editions not see how he has abused the freedom of expression in Venezuela? Why does no one now remember these facts? Accidental amnesia? Are the media innocent in their handling of the decision by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to grant the Venezuelan state use of RCTV’s antennas and transmitters for the release of TVES? Why were the media unaware that arrangements for the transfer of equipment included payment negotiated with the owners of RCTV? The price was not only just, but rather generous. Últimas Noticias disinterred from the archive a resolution from November 16, 1973, made during the first administration of Rafael Cadera, in which the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry established that “any installations that RCTV is required to build, the lands, the towers and construction that are built at RCTV’s expense, will be understood as exclusive property of the Republic.” 

As I finish these lines, I hear the National Hymn again, but now performed live from the Teresa Carreño Theater by the Symphonic Youth Orchestra. It is 12:23 a.m. on Monday, the 28th of May. The camera shows children, women and the elderly, white and black and mestizo. The young director of the orchestra raises his baton, bounds onto the stage, gesticulates and, as he finishes conducting the last bar, a commercial for the new network rolls across the screen: “TVES—como eres de verdad” (You see yourself as you really are). And that is how it seems to be.

Translated by Aaron Hawn

For more on Venezuela, check out Marc Cooper’s dig, “The Big Blowup over Venezuela.”

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By rigo23, June 14, 2007 at 2:12 am Link to this comment

“First of all, Max, in terms of revoke and renew, I don’t care.  It stinks either way.”

NotSoFast, I can’t believe it’s over a day later, and that after all these posts you still seem to trivialize these nontrivial arguments.  How exactly does this “stink either way”?  Revocation is much different from non-renewal and it is not RCTV’s birthright to operate and operate criminally without impunity.  I think I finally understand your line of thinking, and it can be summed thusly and as someone once said,

“For my friends I have ‘justice’...for everyone else I have the law.”

If all of this were taking place here, I bet that you wouldn’t be applying the same standard you have for Venezuela.  You obviously think little of the fact that most of the media in the U.S. is concentrated in very, very few, rich hands, a very, very undemocratic outcome.

You conveniently ignore this reality, pretending to have a ‘fair and balanced’ disposition with regard to free speech. 

Neither Chavez nor the Venezuelan government have “silenced the opposition” as you claim, and they have done everything in their power to democratize the airwaves, which is the opposite of what is happening here, the further concentration of our airwaves in fewer and fewer hands.

RCTV, who you claim is the “opposition”, although there are mostly dissenting voices in the rich, privately-owned Venezuelan media, has not been “silenced”.  How many times do you need to hear and then downplay their involvement in the 2002 coup, their 600+ violations of Venezuela’s broadcasting laws, put in place well before Chavez’s government took power, including it’s airing of pr0n, refusal to cover Chavez’s return to power after the coup, an admission of guilt, and it’s inciting of violence against a democratically-elected government?

“I don’t think we know for sure that RCTV was complicit in the coup.  The author of this piece accuses them of that, but the specifics seem to be about lying, calling civil unrest and refusing to report about the pro-Chavez rallies.  It certainly doesn’t sound good, and it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing we would tolerate in the US (as I’ve said many times now).  But we also probably wouldn’t elect a president who tried to commit a coup (more overtly than the Republicans have, I mean).

How would I feel about a TV station calling for the overthrow of our own government?  Personally, I would hope we could survive such a thing without resorting to state owned media, intimidation of reporters and the silencing of dissent.  But, realistically, I don’t think it would ever be allowed to happen, no. “

Well, instead, what we are resorting to is totally privatized media, media concentrated in the hands of very few people who all pretty much repeat the same infotainment crap all day, ignoring genocide and betraying it’s essential obligations to the public.

Not so fast, NotSoFast.  Dissent has been silenced in this country…except on the Internet.

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By cann4ing, June 13, 2007 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

Venezuela has done to RCTV what the US should do to much of the conglomerated corporate media, refuse to renew their monopoly licenses to broadcast over the “public” airwaves after they have abandoned even a semblance of serving in the public interest.  It isn’t just the faux news at Fox.  All of the American conglomerated media act as a propaganda network.  The Latin phrase, Scienter est Potentia (knowledge is power) is the key.  The best defense against tyranny is a knowledgeable citizenry, which is why “news” long ago devolved into “infotainment.”  What the corporatocracy wants is not active citizens but passive consumers, incapable of distinguishing a Dennis Kucinich from the corporatist charletons (Obama, Edwards, Clinton) who masquerade as Democrats.  Such is the quality of discourse within the conglomerated corporate media.

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By atheo, June 13, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

Taking another look at your comment, I see that we make a similar point. In any event this topic is more rightly debated amongst Venezuelans.

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By Max Shields, June 13, 2007 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

#77591 by atheo on 6/13 at 6:44 am
(45 comments total)

“So when was the last time that Pacifica called for the overthrow of the US government?”

Hate to say it but this does occur,it is actually a point of contention at KPFA and has resulted in some programs being threatened with cancellation by management.”

I think you understand that this has nothing to do with the quote from my post.

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By atheo, June 13, 2007 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

“So when was the last time that Pacifica called for the overthrow of the US government?”

Hate to say it but this does occur,it is actually a point of contention at KPFA and has resulted in some programs being threatened with cancellation by management. There is a difference though in participation in a REAL coup that is coordinated with foreign elements. That said though, I don’t know why we should have the arrogance to judge this act of Venezuela’s. Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the tens of thousands of Europeans that face PRISON sentences for thought crimes (Fourisson was one of many). Are RCTV’s directors being hauled to jail? Let’s stop nitpicking the country with the most freedom and the most vibrant opposition press.

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By Max Shields, June 13, 2007 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

#77539 by NotSoFast on 6/12 at 10:12 pm

As to the introduction of Chomsky and the AI, I can only say that I don’t go to Chomsky to figure out what I think about something. That said, I’ve read a great deal of Chomsky and agree with him on many topics particularly his insights into the major, and so far, positive changes occuring in Latin America.

I was once very intereseted in Chomsky’s linguistic theories but find them less satisfying today. They’re too supportive of cognitivism which, to me, does not refect the way living organisms “operate” in a dynamic environment. But that’s another topic (maybe for the Atheism/Theism thread).

As to the AI reports. Yes, I’m familiar with their concerns about not renewing the license. But the logic does not hold, since there seems to be agreement that Chavez has the legal (not merely hypothetical) right not to renew. This is uncontested by all sources. So, what’s the problem? Well it’s hard to say. Are there no other dissenting media voices in Venezuela? My understanding is there are many. The media is part of a long line of elitist funded and operated networks. Has Chavez threatened them all with “pulling their licenses”? Not that I’ve heard.

Here’s where I do agree with Chomsky, given our Government’s undermining of basic civil and human rights within and outside of the US, of the use of torture, of the endless wars and occupations, we’ve got enough on our hands without pointing our fingers at Chavez.

Does that give Chavez impunity to any and all charges? No, but there is a much larger context in Latin America. (Again, RCTV can still operate privately in Venezuela.) Isolating the renewal of a license - seems almost trite. No?

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By Max Shields, June 13, 2007 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

#77550 by NotSoFast on 6/12 at 11:05 pm
“Is Pacifica guilty of treason?”

So when was the last time that Pacifica called for the overthrow of the US government?

I think, in part, that’s why some people are concerned about this license, they see in it as a blow to alternative voices. So, far I don’t see that.

I do see tensions in Venezeula. But look at the history. And where is the US in all this? Do you think the US is standing by while the oil is being nationalized? Afterall the blood flows in Iraq to secure the oil.

Much appreciate your clarification. I’m not simply applauding anything a leader of any nation does, but there’s much to discern here.

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By NotSoFast, June 13, 2007 at 12:05 am Link to this comment

First of all, Max, in terms of revoke and renew, I don’t care.  It stinks either way.  But let’s get into the meat of it.

I don’t know why you are so happy to throw around the word treason.  Chavez himself committed treason in ‘92 when he attempted a coup.  Sure it was treason against an arguably illegitimate government, but treason just the same. I don’t say this to knock Chavez, who I believe was fairly elected and enjoys continued popular support.  I say it to make the point that treason always applies to the guys you don’t like.  Is Pacifica guilty of treason? 

I don’t think we know for sure that RCTV was complicit in the coup.  The author of this piece accuses them of that, but the specifics seem to be about lying, calling civil unrest and refusing to report about the pro-Chavez rallies.  It certainly doesn’t sound good, and it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing we would tolerate in the US (as I’ve said many times now).  But we also probably wouldn’t elect a president who tried to commit a coup (more overtly than the Republicans have, I mean). 

How would I feel about a TV station calling for the overthrow of our own government?  Personally, I would hope we could survive such a thing without resorting to state owned media, intimidation of reporters and the silencing of dissent.  But, realistically, I don’t think it would ever be allowed to happen, no.

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 11:26 pm Link to this comment

Hang on, Max.  Our posts overlapped.  I appreciate your tone, and I want to answer your question.  Hang on.

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 11:12 pm Link to this comment

Oh, I’m sorry.  I thought freedom of speech applies in any context.  My mistake.  It’s okay for Holocaust deniers, but not okay for an entire TV station.  Got it.  Boy, I sure don’t know how to “critically comprehend” the way you do.  As to the charges of RCTV’s treason, why doesn’t Chavez try them for that? 

Had a TV station supported Chavez’s coup attempt in ‘92, would you also support shutting them down?  After all, that would have been (legally) treason. No?  Suddenly you’re not so interested in treason, I guess.

There are more Chomsky quotes, if you go to his website.  He basically says leave Venezuela to the Venezuelans (and I agree), but he doesn’t give Chavez a blank check the way you guys do.  He admits that there may be some authoritarian winds a blowing.  And I’ll bet you FOX News T-shirt that Noam isn’t so sanguine about this RCTV thing.  I’ll post a quote as soon as he speaks up about it.  Hey, if you find one first, why don’t you do the same?

Any concerns about Amnesty’s position, or is this going to just be a Chomsky-off?  Really, I’m serious.  Put the snarkiness aside for a second and answer one of my questions.

I have a principle: freedom of the press.  I apply this principle consistently.  I don’t think you are being so consistent.  Why don’t you try some of that juicy “critical comprehension” of yours and look at your own position?  Here’s a clue that you’re out of your moral depths: you are using authoritarian arguments—treason, bureaucratic technicalities—to justify an inherently un-democratic move.

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By Max Shields, June 12, 2007 at 10:53 pm Link to this comment

#77513 by NotSoFast on 6/12 at 8:59 pm

Let me repeat: Chavez did not simply revoke the license - he waited until the license came up for renewal and did not renew it. He was following the Venezuelan law.

Now to the point, that you don’t seem to want to admit (“concede”), Chavez was legally elected President; an illegal coup, whereby a democratically elected president (Chavez) was ousted from power in April 2002 occurred. Now, we know that RCTV was complicit with the coup. A coup is an unlawful - treasonous - act.

Let’s start with those simple facts and go from there.

My understanding of the Venezuelan TV media is that it is replete with anti-government stations. Most of these stations are owned by an elite class who are aligned with an opposition - this is not “news reporting” this is a propaganda machine which cheers on the overturn of a government. This is not simply an “opposition” (FOX) noice machine, but a expost facto arm of an illegal coup.

You seem to see this as a “free speech” rights issue. This is a powerful and pervasive media who has turned itself into a political propaganda machine for the overthrow of an elected official -again - do you think this would be ok here?

(No you didn’t use the word “despot”.)

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment

Max, your argument hinges on the difference between “revoke” and “renew”?  Do you have it in you to accept that one can be critical of Chavez in this case without being a rube of the right?  Please read my posts more carefully.  I’ve never called Chavez a despot.  I’ve never said he’s done anything illegal.  What I am saying, and not one of you has the balls to deal with this, is that this is not what freedom of the press looks like.  Instead of dealing with that, you say I’m brainwashed by our media (with this sort of paranoia, no wonder you support this move.)  Oh, and for you people who say I haven’t read Chomsky, try this on for size. From Manufacturing Consent:

“If you’re in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you dislike. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”
Noam Chomsky

And, by the way, Amnesty International has opposed this move and

“According to the human rights organization, this is the last in a series of measures that have increasingly reduced the rights to freedom of speech in Venezuela. Others include aggression against reporters, threats to reporters, including the murders of two of them in the last year and prosecution of reporters together with legislative measures which are aimed at limiting freedom of speech.”

Here’s the link:

But, I’m sure you are going to say that this is all propaganda.  And I’m not sure that it isn’t, by the way.  What I do know is that shutting down an apparently popular TV station is something I’m not comfortable with.  And the fact that you are fine with it makes me feel you have authoritarian problems of your own.  Why can’t you understand that by being honest, your legitimate points (and I’ve conceded a lot of them) will seem much more valid?

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By Max Shields, June 12, 2007 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

#77331 by NotSoFast on 6/12 at 9:50 am

With all due respect, from reading what you’ve posted it seems rather obvious that you’ve read little of the case. Or if you have, you’ve decided to ignore it.

Chavez did no more that not RENEW a license to a station that was complicit with an illegal coup. Now you may think this is just “speech” but it is inciteful propaganda, and would, here, in the US fall under articles of treason.

Chavez followed the law of Venezuela and when (some years later, I might add) the license came up for renewal he (as is his role as president) did not renew it. Rather minimal slap on the wrist for “treason”.

They can still use private channels if they so choose.

You may want to do a little reading before assuming US propaganda that Chavez, who does not follow the history of American gun boat diplomacy, is by definition a despot; when in fact he was popularly elected, has been supported (and hence the coup failed) by the grass-roots of Venezuela. Those elections have all been deemed proper by external monitoring.

If you have evidence otherwise, then please present it rather than some faulty assumption.

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Wow, Church.  I don’t like being called a racist or a right wing troll.  I’m not trying to bait you, but you sure are doing a good job of that yourself.  Here’s what I’m about: freedom of the press. 

RCTV may have been in cahoots with the coup.  But a TV station isn’t capable of doing anything but speech.  Right?  I’m sure they lied, they have been incredibly biased in their reporting.  They certainly would have been strung up by their thumbs if they had done this in the States.  I keep giving you these points.  Now, can you admit that this is not what freedom of the press looks like? 

You say Chavez has shown restraint.  Personally, I don’t want to rely only on the restraint of those in power, no matter how legitimately elected they may be.  I think he should have renewed the license.  If the Venezuelan media is as diverse and free as Rigo23 says, then why not do it? 

Seriously, guys, do you want to shut down FOX News by fiat or do you want to win this with truth?  Because if it all comes down to pure assertion and guile (the M.O. of Rove and Co.) then I’m gonna give up.  And, despite your paranoia and name-calling, I am not a Bushite or even a pseudo Liberal.  I’m closer to the middle than you, but still WAY left.  And if your rhetoric turns me off, then you don’t have much hope.

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By Church Secretary, June 12, 2007 at 5:36 am Link to this comment

You can only backpedal so far, NotSoFast.  What RCTV did went beyond simple free-speech opposition.  They were parties to treason against a popularly elected sovereign government.  They participated in a coup plot that was assisted by a foreign power.  Your continued insistence on labeling the Chávez government’s actions as ‘silencing’ implies that something illegal, unethical, or immoral was done in not renewing RCTV’s license.  Not so.  “Silencing the opposition” is what generations of U.S.-backed Latin American right-wing dictatorships have done, usually using U.S-trained and supplied secret police and death squads.

What the Chávez government did was not only perfectly legal, but it showed remarkable restraint and offered a constructive alternative to the people of Venezuela.

NotSoFast, your continued misrepresentation of the situation in Venezuela has nothing to do with the facts, but likely emanates from your desire to paint the Chávez government as something that it is not.  Perhaps all your protestations of free thinking (just because you’re wrong and everyone else is right doesn’t make them “sheep”) are just you blowing smoke up your own pipes, or maybe you are a thinly disguised right-wing troll just here to muddy the waters.  Or maybe you are just another self-imagined liberal who can’t stand to see those little brown Latinos doing a better job with democracy than their wealthier, more ignorant, and more spoiled neighbors to the north.

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By Freedomfinder, June 12, 2007 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

For all of you giving kudos to the MSM…why are you here?I DARE you to go to their chat rooms and post something negative about the way they are reporting the news or the issues that matter!My guess is that the MSM would censor your comments or ban you,that is if was not about Ms.Hilton,Ms.Spears et al!
I could not believe it when FOX and MSNB broke away from the Pentagon with a BREAKING report about Paris WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 1:40 am Link to this comment

Thank you Billy the D for admitting that not renewing the RCTV is at least prima facie bad for business.  I worry about the people who can’t even admit that.  Or the people who don’t see this article as propaganda.  I also think you gotta admit that those 79 out of 81 privately owned stations are getting a chilling message about their own licenses. 

Is it sanctimony to point out this obvious abuse of power when our own media is so crappy?  Hmmm.  If TruthDig runs a piece I feel I can have a reaction to it.  Or are we supposed to just be liberal sheep?

And, yes, dear Billy, I’ve read all of the books you mentioned.  I don’t know why you gotta get so rude.  Believe it or not, someone can read Chomsky and not end up with the exact same world view that you have. 

Would our government allow a network to foment revolution?  No, no, no.  But please, let’s all be honest about what’s going on here. 

I know Rigo23, they aired some nasty stuff on RCTV.  But I’m still not comfortable with the “they brought it on themselves” argument.  I mean, seriously, aren’t we for freedom of speech, guys?

And, back to my original post of highfalutin rhetoric:  if you can’t be honest about an abuse of power, wherever it occurs, then I worry about what you are going to do when you have power.

Good Night

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By rigo23, June 12, 2007 at 12:51 am Link to this comment

NotSoFast, silencing the opposition is not what’s happening here, but you can view it that way if you want to.  It’s like saying a teacher “gave a student a bad grade”, when in reality, it’s usually a student that earns the bad grade.  Same thing here. RCTV abused its broadcasting privilege, to put it mildly, airing pornography, inciting violence against a democratically-elected (11 times over since 1998) government, and then refusing to pay fines levied against them for their over 600 infractions over the years.

I really wouldn’t cry for RCTV.  They earned their bad grades and their dunce caps, and they have no one to blame but themselves…and that damn authoritation Chavez!  Damn you Chavez!!! Return to us our beloved freedoms!!!!:)

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By rigo23, June 12, 2007 at 12:37 am Link to this comment

“I’ll concede some points with the author of this piece (as best as I can understand this clunky translation). “

The translation is no clunkier than your thinly veiled sarcastic parroting of the corporate media line, NotSoFast.  “Oh, well I guess there’s some free speech left.  It’s not ALL nationalized.  RCTV was shut down but there’s still some room for dissent.”

First off, there is in one day of Venezuelan private, corporate-owned programming, more dissent and vitriol hurled at the Veneuzelan head of state than in a year here in the U.S..  What happened to Phil Donahue on MSNBC, by the way?  His ratings were through the roof when his show got cancelled, and all because they didn’t want MSNBC to seem “anti-war” in the run up to the invasion.

Secondly, RCTV was not “shut down” as you put it.  The license just was not renewed.  These are so different, especially when you consider Chavez waited five years for the license to expire before simply not renewing it.

Some more facts to chew on…from the following article reprinted in

From the article,

“79 out of 81 TV stations, 706 out of 708 radio stations and all newspapers in Venezuela are privately owned, and the majority of the private media are virulently anti-Chavez. Since Chavez was elected in 1998, only two TV stations have been closed: the state-run Channel 8 during the coup by the coup leaders, and community TV station Catia TV in July 2002 by then-Caracas mayor and coup leader Alfredo Pena.”

So who are the real jerks?  I believe it is the ones who sanctimoniously, chauvinistically, and ignorantly, like Condoleeze Rice at the OAS recently, sit there and try to tell other countries to mind their freedom of speech and when faced with counterrequests like minding their secret prisons, GITMOs, and extraordinary rendition programs, get up and walk out of an assembly.

Those are the real jerks, NotSoFast.  The hypocrite elite who want democracy on their own terms and believe in self-determination not for downtrodden people but for corporations.

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By NotSoFast, June 12, 2007 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

Yeah, thanks for the reading list.  I’ve read ‘em.  Why don’t you stop insulting me, stop with your cant about corporate media and explain how silencing the opposition is cool with you.  Don’t give me Blum’s argument that we woulda done worse in the USA.  Tell me how you feel about freedom of speech and why it’s okay with you to shut up the person you don’t agree with. Or do you need to shroud everything in realpolitik nuance to feel good about yourself.

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By NotSoFast, June 11, 2007 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Okay guys, I had that coming.  My CIA handler also chewed me out good, so you can ease up.  Sorry if I was a little too wispy with my prose.  Let me see if I can be a little more clear.

I’ll concede some points with the author of this piece (as best as I can understand this clunky translation).  Perhaps more has been made of shutting down RCTV than should have been.  This may not be complete nationalization of the media.  The pro RCTV protesters may be (gasp) mostly white.  Other Chavez critics may have stopped calling for a coup and had their licenses renewed.

None of that changes the fact that this is an attempt to silence the opposition.  It’s not the sort of thing most Americans dig.  And I’m afraid of people who are willing to rationalize such behavior just because they like who is in power.  I may loathe FOX News, but I wouldn’t want them shut down by a, God willing, progressive president.  If you don’t stand for freedom of speech than I think you’re a jerk.


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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, June 11, 2007 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

Fox news outlet.

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By Church Secretary, June 11, 2007 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

NotSoFast, your grandiose platitudes seem to demonstrate that you skipped reading the article before writing.

“It’s more important to wield power justly than to wrest it from the unjust.”

Huh?  I suppose the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War were just the militant excesses of some uppity colonists, who should have been happy to “wield power justly” within the constraints of being under King George’s foot.

“Far better to remove the boot from the neck than to simply swap the owner of the neck for the owner of the boot.”

The above passage reads as though you are trying to sound profound without saying anything meaningful.

I don’t mean to make this personal, NotSoFast, but your boilerplate concern trolling—accompanied by your status as an unregistered commenter—flags you as someone who just dropped in to muddy the waters of progressive discourse with a rhetorical non sequitur (one that conveniently suits a right-wing, anti-Chavez agenda).

Sites like Truthdig exist in order to counter the casual corporate media acceptance and regurgitation of such propagandist nonsense, so forgive me if I’ve overstepped my bounds by calling it out.

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By NotSoFast, June 10, 2007 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it’s wrong to silence opposition, no matter which side you are on.  It’s more important to wield power justly than to wrest it from the unjust.  Far better to remove the boot from the neck than to simply swap the owner of the neck for the owner of the boot.

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, June 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

#76752, Lefty, who licenses GE?  And the overriding criterium is “for the public good.”  If anything is to be changed for the better, it’ll take and informed public and we know they’ll never let that happen.

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By atheo, June 10, 2007 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

Excellent article by William Blum:

“...If there was a successful military coup in the United States and a particular TV station applauded the overthrow of the president (and the dissolving of Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the suspension of the Constitution), and if then the coup was reversed by other military forces accompanied by mass demonstrations, and the same TV station did not report any of this while it was happening to avoid giving support to the counter-coup, and instead kept reporting that the president had voluntarily resigned … how long would it be before the US government, back in power, shut down the station, arrested its executives, charging them under half a dozen terrorist laws, and throwing them into shackles and orange jumpsuits never to be seen again? How long? Five minutes? The Venezuelan government waited five years, until the station’s license was due for renewal. And none of the executives have been arrested. And RCTV is still free to broadcast via cable and satellite. Is there a country in the entire world that would be as lenient?2

It can be said that the media in Venezuela is a lot more free than in the United States. Can anyone name a single daily newspaper in the United States that is unequivocally opposed to US foreign policy? Can anyone name a single television network in the United States that is unequivocally opposed to US foreign policy? Is there a single daily newspaper or TV network in the entire United States that has earned the label “opposition media”? Venezuela has lots of opposition media…”

full article:

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By Ghosts of Abu Graib Ass, June 10, 2007 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hell, they should look at Fox Noise Chunnel if they want to see REAL lying propaganda.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, June 10, 2007 at 9:24 am Link to this comment

Are we meddling in South America and need to keep an eye on Olie North again?

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