Saturday, November 19, 2005

NYT: Juan Forero campaigns for Maria Corina Machado

"The Rose That Is a Thorn in Chavez's Side" is a laughable article for Juan Forero. (It's laughable even for the New York Times which should be forever haunted for their editorial coverage of the coup that ousted Hugo Chavez.)

Ava and I are reviewing Commander-in-Chief for The Third Estate Sunday Review and one of the main reasons for the decision to review that show (which we've both avoided until last week) is that, as Laura Flanders has pointed out many times, Bully Boy's war on the world often cloaks itself in language promising (false) empowerment to women while trotting out a variety of hand maidens to hide behind.

Forero's so taken with this "rose" that he can't inform readers of reality.

To read Forero's careful narrative, are readers aware that Sumate isn't Machado's first organization? No, they're not. (It's her third -- she infamously attempted with one organization to privatize homeless shelters -- her attacks on the poor are well known outside of articles by Forero.) Forero misses her two previous attempts.

Forero writes of her as just another mother (albeit a wealthy one, though Forero takes pains to avoid identifying her as such) concerned with the plight of others. Then her marriage breaks up (no explanation given on that) and she's ready to do her part for her country -- which apparently means holding hands with Bully Boy and anyone else who can fund her organization.

At one point, she wins/woos Forero (when she "leaned across the table, slightly embarrassed") proving that Notting Hill has an audience outside of the US even if Forero hasn't seen it. ("I'm just a girl . . . standing before a boy . . .")

She's hardly the Singing Nun (with sex appeal and a push up bra) but that's how Forero, the headline writer and the photographer play it up. The hills are alive, apparently, with the sound of spinmeisters. (I'm mixing nuns, I am aware.)

Forero skims over everything that might make Machado seem like something less than Julia Roberts in a knee high boots. Take the 2004 referendum. She didn't just question it, her group strongly advocated it and once voting took place, she loudly argued the results based on her group's exit polling. That's missing from Forero's article as is the criticism of Marchado's organization from the Carter Center and OAS.

And what of how she happened to be in the palace in 2002?

She was visiting an old friend, just dropped by to visit an old friend, she had no idea what was going on, she explains to the always willing to swallow Forero. And what of what she signed that day? Not brought up in the Times article, that fanciful statement might have been too hard for even Forero to stomach. But let's note it here because she's pimped that claim to every other news organization. Chavez had just been ousted in a US backed coup (the Times has waffled there but in 2005 finally seemed committed to reality on that) and what's a girl to do when there's a coup but call up an old friend (wife of the newly installed -- it's a very small circle), within hours of the coup, to say, "Hey, can I check out your new digs?"

While at the palace -- again, not noted in the Times -- she signed a piece of paper. The paper endorsed the coup and legitimized the puppet government. While Forero leaves that out (which will confuse the reader but it doesn't play that well), other publications (the Christian Science Monitor for one) have been happy to print her claim that she just thought she was signing some sort of reception book.

Though well educated and the great-great-granddaughter of a famous author, apparently reading isn't one of Machado's skills?

The administration's tried backing a variety of poster boys against Chavez. It was only a matter of time before they went for a woman. She's Karen Hughes in a pretty package.

And the spin is she wasn't 'a political,' just a working mom who heard a calling from her country and decided that gosh, golly, gee the (business) people needed her representation.

It's not reality but if the Times wanted reality they would have fired Forero long ago. They backed the coup (they applauded it in fact and didn't label it a coup in real time) and now they're trumpeting Machado. With a head shot. David Rochkind, your future at Wilhelmina awaits.

As the First Fembot, Laura Bush, is trotted out to claim Harriet Miers is the victim of sexism (as opposed to the victim of her own weak resume), as Afghanistan is portrayed as Title IX battle taken to the extreme (or are we forgetting the Fembot's radio address on the eve of the invasion), as the myth of improvements for women are presented as facts, it's not surprising that Bully Boy would attempt co-opt feminist language. It's also not surprising that the New York Times, historically no friend to feminism, would play along. But if they succeed in promoting corporate interests as "feminism," we're going to need a smarter sisterhood. It's doubtful Geena Davis' Commander-in-Chief will lead us down that road.

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