From Crimea to Caracas, Our Corporate Media is Still Asleep at the Wheel By Frank D. Pond

map_of_ukraineThe world is either blowing up…or not…depending on which “news” source one relies upon.  GOP news, er, I mean Fox, will tell you that Obama was deficient in trusting Putin, didn’t see the crisis in Crimea (Ukraine), and has been feckless and weak in his foreign policy.  The evident proof of same seems to stem from Benghazi (how many Marines were blown up in Beruit under Reagan’s watch?) and Syria, where I believe Obama actually pulled off one of the most brilliant bait and switches ever by convincing Syria he was ready for war even though he never actually intended to go to war thereby making it a foreign policy victory but a disaster according to Fox and the Cheney Repugnicans. So Fox and the GOP see Crimea as the proof of what happens to a weak President (i.e. one who won’t start a war on false pretenses or in the wrong country) and can’t figure out what to say about Caracas so most stay quiet.   Over in the purely corporate media land of networks and CNN, we get the “blond girl gone missing” treatment of only one story at a time journalism.  Ukraine, perhaps because it happened right after Sochi’s Olympics, gets the nod and nuance gets the boot.  And Venezuela, where’s that?

There are multiple crises in the world today but we won’t get that picture from our news media.  Instead, we are told (and I do mean TOLD) what to believe based upon Cold War black and whites about Ukraine and, if Venezuela even gets a mention, it is also a black and white story line with President Maduro cast as Stalin and the people in the streets cast as freedom fighters.  Yes, some of that may be true.  Putin and Maduro are thugs and despots but neither rank with the “greats” like Stalin or even Fidel in his prime.  Heck, Maduro can’t even be Chavez and Putin seems to have less genius than Yeltsin after a night dancing with Stoli.  But, their opposition isn’t exactly the guys in white hats either.  And that we don’t know the whole story in Ukraine and pretty much hear nothing about Venezuela is the fault of a media either asleep at the wheel or so corporatized (or politicized by Obama hate).

So what is the truth?  Honestly, I don’t know it either.  Because no one is talking about truth or nuance or legitimate fears and concerns.  The media is either trying to get ratings by scaring us to death (War with Russia) or lull us to sleep regarding  a country imploding that is covered by the Monroe Doctrine and one wherein the whole world’s economy could turn sour.  Why is that?  I have some theories.

Map of Western Hemisphere shows how far Ukraine is from US, and how close Venezuela is to us.

Map of Western Hemisphere shows how far Ukraine is from US, and how close Venezuela is to us.

Crimea:  The media is politicized either because it is a direct arm of one political party (Fox and Republicans) or because it is owned by corporate honchos that also tilt right (networks and CNN).  Thus, the talking point of “Obama is weak, failed or stumbling” becomes the cornerstone.  As such, we don’t hear that Crimea was part of Russia for centuries and was only given over to Ukraine (at a time when Ukraine was really controlled by Russia) in the fifties by fiat.  The Crimean peninsula is mainly Russian both in ethnicity and language.  There are hostilities ethnically between native Russians and Ukrainians (not taking sides on that–simply that this is a fact and probably lots of wrongs on both sides).  Putin didn’t “invade.”  He sent a paltry number of troops into Crimea to keep peace but also to influence politics and snatch Crimea back.  He is wrong to do this act and the way he is doing it violates international law.  But, this is something that is appropriately handled by sanctions and international bodies not something that is either the responsibility of the United States nor its President.  The bottom line is that there is much nuance in the issue of Crimea and absolutely little or no compelling national interests in how it comes out relative to the United States.  Dick Cheney says Obama should consider military force.  Huh?  Iraq and Afghanistan follies are not enough.  Now, the answer is to provoke Russia and side with Ukraine?  Exactly how does that help the US?  Yes, it is appropriate for the UN but not NATO nor the US.  It may be hard to hear this but who cares in the US whether Crimea is controlled by Russia or Ukraine–our intervention in this by means other than joining with other nations to criticize the international law violations–is tantamount to idiocy based only upon the need to fight a war long gone cold.  This isn’t Hitler invading the Sudetenland.  Putin isn’t Hitler.  And we don’t need to jump in at all other than through international bodies.  To do otherwise is simply a knee jerk attempt to reestablish our “masculinity” like Reagan did in Greneda to change the dialogue about troops being blown up by terrorist forces in Beruit.  This need for masculinity and wagging the dog may befit a Cheney but it is not American.  Let Crimea fall where it may and let’s stop the black and white of the media and focus a bit more on the nuanced gray.  This will likely work out via international law means.

James Monroe

James Monroe

Caracas:  James Monroe delivered his doctrine about the US need to police and protect its Hemisphere.  Since that time, it has been well understood that the US should be ready to jump in and protect the Americas from blowing up.  Venezuela is clearly within the geographic ambit of the Monroe Doctrine and could well become a crisis for which we need to act.  But, you wouldn’t know that from the media’s coverage.  Some (on Fox, Marco Rubio at CPAC etc.) decry Maduro as evil (he’s not though he is a thug who probably stole his election) because he rules from the left.  But, they ignore the fact that the street protesters are not all saints and not all simply the forces of good or even of the right.  The nuanced information is that the protesters have many valid claims and some are brave patriots.  Others, however, are thugs hoping to replace Maduro but rule as he does but with a different set of principles about who (corporations v. people) have power and who do not.  Again, like in Crimea, it is hard to tell which side is good versus bad because both sides are both.  But, we don’t know anything at all about this because our media is focused only on Ukraine or bloviating about Obama.  Why might this spill into a Monroe Doctrine level dilemma?  Because Venezuela has the third or fourth largest reserves of oil on the planet.  Their turmoil can well become the world’s economic turmoil.  If the streets of Caracas blow up, so might the economic recovery and so might the world’s economy.  Who’s right?  I don’t know and the answer is likely neither and both.  But, the point is we are hearing NOTHING about this at all unless it fits into the “Obama bad” script or Maduro = Chavez = Castro = cold war ideology.  Again, Maduro needs to go and free and fair elections be held but we all need to be more focused on Caracas as that is where the world could be impacted and not Crimea yet we only hear about the opposite.  So, why is the media complicit in this–theories abound from our news is so dumbed down that nuance is impossible and since we don’t really understand the Venezuelan situation (unless you are watching Telemundo or other Spanish language networks which are covering this with appropriate concern) we say nothing to corporate media doesn’t want to throw too much light onto the goal of re-privatizing the Venezuelan oil–an unstated goal of some of the protesters.

From Crimea to Caracas, our media lies or takes the easy and mindless way out.  While we, and admittedly I, don’t know the answers, let’s at least start asking the right questions….ok, any questions, please!