Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) wrote a great article, The Good Kind of Protesters—and the Bad Kind. It looked at the coverage of protest movements in Ukraine and Venezuela. And then compared it to coverage of Palestinian protest movements. Now you know that I am sympathetic to the current Venezuelan government. While they certainly could have done a better job, they’ve been infinitely better than the pro-corporate right wing movement that the United States government prefers.
But the point isn’t who is right or who is wrong. It is that the United States media might as well be controlled by the government. If the government is an ally of a country, then any protest movement against it is painted by our media as invalid. On the other hand, if our government considers a country an enemy, then any protest movement against it is portrayed as great, regardless of it nature. So in Palestine, peaceful protesters who get killed by Israeli forces just don’t matter. But in Venezuela, violent protesters are portrayed as though they were Thomas Paine himself.
Consider Leopoldo Lopez, the man who now seems to be the leader of the violent opposition. Based on his name being mentioned 77 times in diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, he seems like a despot in waiting. What’s more, these recent protests seem more like an internal struggle in the opposition than they do anything that has to do with the current government. This seems to have been Lopez’s way to leap to the top of the movement. Yet look at how Karla Zabludovsky of Newsweek portrayed him in the article, Leopoldo Lopez Gives Venezuela the Image of a Revolutionary Who Has It All:
Personally, I think that if Ms Zabludovsky has a crush on Lopez, she should keep it to herself. But the truth is that this kind of reporting is standard. The US government is against the current democratically elected government in Venezuela, so all the good “independent” journalists in the United States are hot on the trail for any story that will push that narrative.
As for the reporting in Palestine, that’s more an issue of just not caring. There are important nonviolent protest movements going on in the occupied territory. But the only time they get any coverage in the mainstream press is when some clueless reporter hears of one and writes what has become a genre article, “Why don’t we see this more of this?” As Patrick O’Connor notes in the Electronic Intifada article, The invisibility of Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance in The New York Times:
This is much bigger than these countries. Our media constantly push the narrative of the power elite. It has allowed our entire political system to move far to the right even while the people, if anything, have moved left. A critical media never would have allowed that. But since they’ve behaved as though everything is just fine—that whatever the millionaires and billionaires say speaks for the rest of us—the people do not realize just how out of kilter our government has become.