Not that long ago I came to the conclusion that the local media in Miami functions as a sophisticated propaganda system that mainly depicts the Cuban government (and sometimes its people) as pariahs. While these broadcasts generally express support for U.S. policy toward Cuba, they mostly serve the local political agenda directed by influential hard-liners in Miami. The history of this agenda in Miami is rooted in the ideological (and media) battles of the Cold War and its persistence as a cultural trait in Miami deserves a post of its own.
And you may wonder how this hard-line ideology persists in the media. Well, first it is rooted in Cuban exile politics that for decades has presented the Cuban government as a totally immoral manifestation (which also infects all that associate with it), and the reliance on culturally imposed prejudice about Cuba which results in misinformation and lies. Lies upon lies, and misinformation upon misinformation, for years the media made sure to let its audience know that the Cuban government was the bad guy. And, like Cuba, the government of Venezuela and its President, Hugo Chavez, have become the new pariahs in the eyes of the local media. And, a recent story proves how bias in the media manifests itself.
On January 20th, many news outlets around the world were reporting that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the United States military caused the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti. Despite the absence of evidence that Pres. Chavez made these comments, this did not stop the media from perpetuating this lie. Why? Because of media propaganda that feeds upon its own lies and misinformation, all rooted in culturally imposed prejudice.
Here's what really happened.
- On the 19th of January, Spain's ABC Newspaper published a report headlined: "Chavez accuses the U.S. of provoking Haiti earthquake." The misinformation spread quickly in Spain, and across Latin America from Peru to Columbia. And, of course, Radio Mambi couldn't help itself either. In the afternoon, Armando Perez-Roura relished reporting this absurd account, showing his radio audience that Pres. Chavez finally went mad.
- The next day, Russian television picked it up and posted it on YouTube, spreading wildly as video. Soon, American political websites like Reason.com, Fox News, and Prison Planet picked up the story and ran with it. (Guess what they have in common.)
- Even the Miami Herald's Cuban Colada blog, after investigating the rumor, came to the wrong conclusion that Pres. Chavez did make these comments. The Cuban Triangle blog also blamed Pres. Chavez.
- If any of the above had considered how absurd these comments were, and suspended their prejudices for a moment, they might have presented real facts for their readers. Just like the Anchorage Daily News did for their readers, with a little commonsense.
You see, if Renato Perez Pizarro DID read the Russian articles that he links to in his Cuban Colada post, he might have found the right answer: Hugo Chavez never made comments that the U.S. military caused the Haiti earthquake, instead the comments come from a Russian website "which clearly gives conspiracy fabrications."
Suspicions should have been immediate because the first ABC article from Spain on the 19th sourced their information to an internet article that was immediately taken down. Other reports should have led readers to the original story that was posted in Spanish on the 16th of January on some blog which suspiciously sources to an agency called "Panorama Alternativo." (This Spanish article eventually made it to a Venezuelan socialist website.) It was on the 16th that the original fabricated Russian report was posted on the internet. That Russian website I found thanks to the links on the Cuban Colada post, but Perez Pizarro for some strange reason came to another conclusion.
Must be that media bias going around.