What is the U.S. Media up to in its Coverage of Ecuador?
New Economic Perspectives, 17 January 2014
If the Obama administration wanted to improve relations with Latin America the most obvious move would be to seek closer ties with Ecuador. Ecuador has been transformed into a nation with a stable political system, a head of state reelected by enormous margins in free elections, substantial economic progress, and a pragmatic development program. That program embraces policies that even the Washington Consensus praised that focus government expenditures on health, education, and infrastructure. The policies also champion an idea most identified with the conservative economist Hernando de Soto – making it far easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses. President Correa is the leader who continues to surprise his friends and foes by taking steps that make economic sense even if they are identified with the “right” while keeping a relentless focus on the needs of the poor. That focus on the poor comes from Correa’s Catholic social justice beliefs that the Pope has recently been returning to centrality.
Obama could work with Correa who could in turn play the role of honest broker and help the U.S. reestablish more positive relations with Latin America. Instead, Obama is continuing the Bush policy of hostility to Correa. Correa has often been sharply critical of U.S. policy.
Over time, the public has learned that Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have become the leading enemies of privacy and media freedom. The NSA, the prosecution of whistleblowers, and the many cover ups have, ironically, become public through whistleblowers’ revelations. This has proved embarrassing to the meme that the Obama administration has been using as its central attack on progressive Latin American leaders – the claim that they are engaged in a war against media freedom. (It should also be embarrassing that Latin American nations can impose severe liability on journalists found to have committed libel because their libel laws are so similar to the U.K.’s laws and that the Obama administration is eagerly trying to expand media liability for non-libelous publications that disclose the NSA’s massive spying operations on media throughout the world.) The media are, understandably, useful to Obama and Cameron in leading the attacks on progressive Latin American leaders under this astonishingly hypocritical and facially ridiculous meme that Ecuador, not the U.S. and the U.K., poses the grave threat to global press freedom.
My personal views are that all of these media restraints are unconscionable and should be removed. I support the broad U.S. constitutional protections for criticisms of “public figures” as the best policy.
The latest attack on Correa opened its U.S. front through a January 14, 2014 AP story entitled “Ecuador Politician Complains of Email Hacking.”
On my first reading I found the story frustrating because I could not figure out what had happened, and assumed that an editor had chopped paragraphs out of the story that had contained the necessary explanations. On my second reading I realized that the story was actually carefully crafted to obscure and twist the facts necessary to understand the story and to consistently slant the language to convey that whatever was going on there was a clear victim and villain (Correa). So, I did a bit of background research and read the story a third time with the necessary, but contested, factual background.
Pronouncing guilt without facts