Sunday, May 22, 2005

This morning's NYT, Joel Brinkley tells you what Juan Forero didn't

The littlest Judy Miller, Juan Forero, may be hopping mad right about now ("the funk soul brother"*). What could have Forero upset? Joel Brinkley's "U.S. Proposal in the O.A.S. Draws Fire as an Attack on Venezuela."

Francisco noted that article in an e-mail and wondered did a section contradict earlier reporting by Forero? Francisco had tried to google an earlier entry we did here but couldn't track it down. (My apologies for not having a search engine for this site.) It took a bit, but I found it.

Before we go there, let's note Brinkley's article and the part that contradicts Forero:

The relationship between the United States and Mr. Chávez, which was already tense, deteriorated in 2002, after the United States tacitly backed a coup that briefly toppled him. The animosity has deepened since then, which is one reason many Latin American envoys remain skeptical of the reasoning Washington offers for its proposal.

Now let's note what Forero wrote on December 3, 2004:

The documents do not show that the United States backed the coup, as Mr. Chávez has charged. Instead, the documents show that American officials issued "repeated warnings that the United States will not support any extraconstitutional moves to oust Chávez."

[Note: For those not wanting to pay to read the archived Times' article, you can find some quotes from it in our entry on Forero's earlier mop-up.]

No, the documents didn't show that. (And no, Okrent, who penned his final colum today hopefully, never addressed Forero's claims as opposed to the reality of the documents.)

Think of Forero as not just the littlest Judy Miller, but also the anti-Scott Shane. While Shane has to mop up for the paper's mistakes, Forero mops up for the administration.

Looking at documents that were publicly available on the net, Forero found things that no one else did. Largely because they aren't in the documents (such as "repeated" warnings).

Today, in Brinkley's article, readers learn what Forero was disinclined to tell them. It'll probably sail right over most. Franciso picked up on it because he's very interested in the paper's coverage of Latin America.

Tacit or otherwise, news made it into the paper. Some might argue it's nearly three years to late and I would understand that sentiment. Others would argue, better late than never.

Members can draw their own conclusions. Myself, I'm wondering what Forero's reaction is when he reads the story.

As for Brinkley's article, we'll also excerpt this section:

Roger F. Noriega, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and a principal architect of the proposal, said in an interview this week that he was "not surprised they are seeing this in the context of Venezuela," but he added, "I am determined that it not be regarded as some kind of effort to isolate Venezuela."
Last month, however, he and other administration officials made several statements tying the effort directly to their concern about Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's populist, anti-American president. Mr. Chávez has curtailed some press freedoms and judicial independence while forming close ties with Cuba, an alliance that, more than anything else, infuriates some Bush administration officials.

"Last month, however . . ." Note how easy it is to write that sentence and then think about how rarely it appears in print when official sources are quoted. Give Brinkley credit for including perspective in his article as well as for the "correction" to Forero's earlier reporting. And remember Francico's title for Forero "el Molinero más pequeño de Judith."

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[*Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank" appears on his album You've Come A Long Way, Baby.]

REMINDER: Katrina vanden Heuvel will be on ABC's This Week later today. (I believe it airs Sunday morning's everywhere, but some members have written that Meet the Press airs late Sunday night or early Monday morning from time to time in their areas. So check your local listings.) I'm going to sleep as soon as I get this up and Isaiah's comic. If it weren't an all nighter, I'd be watching the second half of This Week (that's the section with the roundtable). Hopefully, others have been sleeping and will be able to catch KvH on This Week.