Axis of Logic
Finding Clarity in the 21st Century Mediaplex

Media Critiques
Corporate Media Puts Nicaragua in Its Crosshairs
By Tortilla con Sal
Sunday, Jun 7, 2015

North American and European corporate media news outlets have failed for so long to give a true and fair view of foreign affairs, it is hard to remember if they ever did. The origins of that outcome may be a matter for argument, but the outcome itself is indisputable, more obviously in times of intense crisis, like the wars in Lebanon, Gaza, Libya, Syria or Ukraine. Less obvious is the steady, between-crisis, drip-by-drip psychological warfare against governments or political movements targeted by NATO country governments for resisting the strategic agenda of Western corporate elites and their local allies.

Examples of this kind of psychological warfare abound in the pages of flagship Western corporate media. One recent article in the UK Guardian targeting Nicaragua's education system offers a helpful concrete example of how this kind of anti-ALBA country propaganda tends to work while staying within the bounds of apparently progressive ideas and argument. Since inheriting in 2007 a semi-privatized education system impoverished by 16 years of neoliberal misrule and the preceding ten years of war, Nicaragua's Sandinista government has transformed education in Nicaragua.

But the counterfactual Guardian article argues the Nicaraguan government has practically abandoned a large number of it's school age population and lacks a serious commitment to improving the country's education system. The structure of the text is almost a template for this kind of false propaganda. Although dealing in this case with Nicaragua, the same propaganda recipe recurs repeatedly in similar articles attacking aspects of politics, society and environmental or economic policy in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

This particular propaganda recipe is as follows :     
  • select a target-country community suitable for the propaganda purpose
  • adapt the language to the target audience core values (progressive, conservative, fascist, socialist, etc.)
  • start by establishing credibility with an anecdote giving local colour
  • introduce a quote early on to establish the main propaganda point
  • label interviewees accordingly and, if necessary, vary the tags for the same person (e.g. first “feminist”, later “democracy activist” and so on)
  • use old or otherwise compromised data to give spurious factual authority
  • isolate the target government from the regional context
  • consolidate the initial message with quotes of local anti-government opinion
  • avoid or minimize alternative, contradictory views
  • cite international institutions to suggest a broad objective panorama
  • end by reinforcing the propaganda message
This simple propaganda recipe recurs constantly in reports about Latin American and Caribbean countries moving closer to China and Russia and reducing their dependence on the United States and its allies. In fact, in this case, as if to emphasize its built-in bias, the report on Nicaragua by the Guardian's Nina Lakhani appears in the media outlet's development section funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The overall subliminal implication is, "Oh well, the morally superior West and generous donors like the Gates' Foundation will just have to clean up the mess created by these incompetent socialist-inspired governments.... "

That plays well with the neocolonial prejudices of most liberal and progressive opinion in North America and Europe. For anyone interested in the matter, a detailed criticism of Nina Lakhani's Guardian article is available here. The broader significance of this counterfactual reporting on Nicaragua's education system is how it works as part of the consistent omnipresent, psychological warfare campaign by NATO country media outlets against Nicaragua and its fellow ALBA country governments.

The ALBA governments are dedicated to working out the region's problems formulating their own sovereign policy in accordance with their peoples' lived reality. Those government's reject the hopelessly flawed and phony neocolonial Western development model based on unfair trade, heavily conditioned, deliberately inadequate development cooperation, and systematic bed-of-Procrustes debt. Some kinds of propaganda attacks on the ALBA countries and their allies may use more or less subtle disinformation strategies, but the objective remains the same.

The Guardian and its fellow NATO psy-warfare corporate media outlets work constantly via reports like Nina Lakhani's to create, drip by drip, the worst impression possible of a target government. Then, when a crisis does occur, usually deliberately manufactured by the US government and its allies, the NATO propaganda machine, of which the Guardian is a key fake-progressive component, slips up a couple of gears towards false hyper-sensationalist denunciation without missing a beat. In Nicaragua's case, this happened perhaps most acutely after the 2008 municipal elections when North American and European opinion across the political spectrum supported phony right wing and social democrat claims of electoral fraud.

In the case of Cuba and Venezuela it has happened so many times one loses count. Bolivia and Ecuador as well as, more recently, Argentina and Brazil, offer numerous other examples. It may be impossible to defeat this drip-feed poisoning of information channels, but to defend ALBA we should denounce it as effectively as we can. Perhaps the most important thing is to challenge the neocolonial assumptions of people in North America and Europe who regard themselves as progressive but feel impotent against their own governments' economic and political repression. ALBA's fundamental premise is the emancipatory power of solidarity - that cuts not just both ways, but all ways, across nations, even across ideology, across every conventional barrier preventing us all from realizing our shared humanity, our common vulnerability on a planet we ourselves are destroying.

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