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ARONOFF Admiring Dictators
by Roger Aronoff [filmmaker, writer] 10/18/06

Why is it that certain journalists get all mushy when covering tyrants? Is it for access, out of admiration, or because they respect their methods of doing business?

Our media can be tough with President Bush, but when it comes to foreign tyrants, thugs and dictators, reporters go starry-eyed. Why is it that certain journalists get all mushy when covering tyrants? Is it for access, out of admiration, or because they respect their methods of doing business?

Roger Aronoff

Roger Aronoff directed and co-wrote the documentary, “Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope.” He is a media analyst with Accuracy in Media. [go to Arnoff index]

We don't know the exact reason but it is a phenomenon worthy of comment. Andrea Mitchell of NBC News was down in Cuba for the so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and made comments about some of the foreign leaders that seem wholly inappropriate. She embarrassed herself and MSNBC, on which she appeared.

NAM itself is a fraud. Starting in 1961, it began meeting every three years. The idea was to gather nations that chose not to align with either the Soviet Union or the Western capitalist nations led by the United States. At the first conference, there were only 25 nations that came forward. One, of course, was Cuba, which was aligned with the Soviets from the first conference until the collapse of the Soviet empire, demonstrating the lie that exists at the heart, and in the name, of this organization.

On September 14, Mitchell stated that Iran's president Ahmadinejad arrived that day. "He is expected to be the star of this summit in many ways," said Mitchell with a big smile, "because of the absence, at least the symbolic absence of Fidel Castro. The summit agenda typically would be about third world poverty, the need for growth, for economic justice for undeveloped or non-developed countries, this is clearly focused on the United States. While Cuban leaders say the agenda is not aimed at the United States, implicit in all of this is…strong attack on U.S. policies in Iraq, U.S. policies in the Middle East, and most recently, in Lebanon."

Nora O'Donnell then asked Mitchell if this is in fact a Summit of Hate. "I don't think that is quite fair," replied Mitchell, "because there are 118 countries, including allies of the U.S… probably trying to moderate the tone of some of the final statements." She then added that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was there, and "has been sharply critical himself of the United States." Incredibly, she identified Annan as an American ally.

O'Donnell then asked Mitchell if she would get in to see Fidel Castro. "NBC and I personally have been really privileged with the access," Mitchell said almost gleefully. "We've had very contentious interviews. We've had more interviews than any other network."

The next day Mitchell was back on the air. "The overriding tone of the summit, as established by the Cuban host, is clearly anti-American; anti-Bush policies I should say, not the American people. But very fiercely critical of the Bush policies in Iraq, in Lebanon and the overall Bush doctrine, if you will. That has clearly been the theme for the summit."

Mitchell talked about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who, she said, is trying to be heir apparent to Castro. He has pledged to be allied with Cuba if the U.S. invades. Chavez was quoted as saying he would defend Iran if the U.S. attacked it. He said he won't be dominated by the U.S. "empire."

In further talking about Chavez and Castro, Mitchell once again used that word "privileged." She said Chavez had visited Castro three previous times since his hospitalization for stomach surgery last July, "a very privileged opportunity for Chavez." Mitchell added that Castro "was working 20 hours a day," which she said contributed to his current health problems.

Much of this deserves comment. First, how does she know he works 20 hours a day? Did some communist official tell her that? And what kind of "work" does a Communist military dictator do for 20 hours a day? She makes it sound like he's doing wonderful things for the Cuban people. Why all of this deference to this thug?

Mitchell then explained that "there would probably be no change in Cuban policy toward the United States until U.S. policy toward Cuba changes. They don't expect that to happen until George W. Bush is out of office-if then." Maybe Mitchell doesn't realize that the U.S. policy has been fairly consistent for years, for 40 years in fact, regardless of which party controlled the White House.

With Fidel in the hospital, his brother Raul Castro has at least temporarily succeeded his brother in office, and spoke in his brother's absence. He described the current international situation as being "characterized by the one superpower's irrational attempts to control the world, aided by its allies."

On MSNBC, the low-rated cable network, Mort Zuckerman of U.S. News & World Report came on to add some perspective. He said that the NAM gives these countries "the chance to get together as a group to give the public impression that there's a widespread degree of support for the hostile attitude they take toward the United States. It gives them the legitimacy of a group."

Zuckerman also had a more realistic take on Iran's radical president, who has denied the Holocaust and threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." Zuckerman commented that Iran arms and finances terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas in the Middle East and was at the Cuban meeting to find "solidarity" and "a sense that other countries support them…"

That was the real story from the NAM meeting. Despite what Andrea Mitchell said or wanted to believe, it was a gathering mostly of America's enemies. But for most of our media, Bush is the enemy. CRO

copyright 2006 Accuracy in Media www.aim.org




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