Independent’s Churnalism on Venezuela

Chavez welcomes actor and director Sean Penn aboard the presidential planeNick Davies coined a fabulous new term in his book Flat Earth News to describe the kind of filler-fluff that very often passes for journalism in US and UK. Here is the latest example from the Independent. Some clown named Guy Adams who is apparently based in Los Angeles does a hatchet-job on Hugo Chavez and by extension Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover for their links to the popular Venezuelan leader, and he can’t find anything better to rely on than a quote from the ageing Hollywood has-been Maria Conchita Alonso with ties to the right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami. ‘In normal circumstances, Alonso’s interview might have been brushed under the carpet’, he correctly points out. But clearly not when it lands in the hands of the Independent’s celebrity gossip extraordinaire who goes on to tell ‘left-wing luvvies’ in the movie business to wake up because their hero had the temerity to describe Hollywood as ‘a medium of American “cultural imperialism”‘.

The clown then proceeds to offer this acute insight:

Penn, who since his Oscar-winning performance in Milk has become a vociferous gay rights activist, is also open to allegations of hypocrisy. The Venezuelan leader’s political hero, Fidel Castro, imprisoned and executed gay men, and once declared: “In this country [Cuba] there are no homosexuals.”

Talk about six-degrees-of separation. I bet this cat can prove that everyone who claims to abhor rape is a hypocrite since through a mere separation of 6 people everyone has ties to a rapist.

Further indictments are in order:

Benicio del Toro we are told had tea with Chavez and went on to say that his host was “nice” and that he’d “had a good time”. Imagine that! He said this has ’caused apoplexy on the political right in the US’. And why would the Los Angeles correspondent for the prestigious British liberal daily the Independent not care about the health of the political right in the US?

But we are told this is because Chavez is ‘dictatorial’. As proof he adduces this:

Last month, through a referendum, Mr Chavez managed to alter the constitution to allow him to run for as many terms of office as he likes, and last week he caused further ructions by nationalising a rice mill owned by the US agricultural giant Cargill. He has frequently threatened to halt all oil exports to the US, and to seize the assets of American petroleum firms with operations in Venezuela.

The final barb in reserved for Harry Belafonte who apparently ‘sparked outrage’ when he ‘appeared on a platform with Mr Chavez to call George Bush “the greatest terrorist in the world”‘.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a star is born!

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

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