Journalism on the "War on Drugs" in Latin America
of Our Country is América" - Simón Bolívar
Writes to Jules Siegel
Narco News Readers Weigh-In on
the Media's Failed Coup
"We Dropped the
Publisher's Note: Authentic
Journalist Jules Siegel, who conducted the Q&A with Narco
here last Saturday,
wrote to the New York Times Editorial Board... and got a response.
We believe this is the
first time in the history of the Gray Lady of 43rd Street in
which the Times editorial board has admitted an error
via email to a reader. It's the first one we've seen, anyway.
The letter from Gail Collins
to Jules Siegel limits its mea culpa to the the "first
Venezuela editorial." Only problem is, NY Times's
second editorial wasn't much better, as noted today by Fairness
and Accuracy in Reporting
and by syndicated columnist
But, hey, it's a start!
The letter from the Times
is followed by the letter by Jules Siegel that provoked it (way
to go, Jules!), and then followed by lots of letters this week
from our most important correspondents, the Narco News
From: Editorial Board firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 10:29:56 -0400
To: Jules Siegel (email@example.com)
Subject: Re: How does the New York Times Chávez editorial
Dear Mr. Siegel,
Nobody should ever cheer the overthrow
of a democratically elected government. You're right, we dropped
the ball on our first Venezuela editorial.
Letter to NY Times
To The New York Times Editorial Board:
I am a writer and graphic designer whose
work has appeared in Playboy, Rolling Stone, Best
American Short Stories and many other publications. I am
a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle Book
Review. I've lived in Mexico since 1981, in Cancun since
I am writing to you today to protest your
unfair and inaccurate editorial on the situation in Venezuela.
I ask you how does it look to you today?
Here's the blurb: "With yesterday's
resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy
is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator...."
As we've seen, Chávez didn't resign.
Venezuelan democracy is threatened by a would-be dictator who
dissolved all democratic institutions on assuming office illegally.
Despite your accusations, it has never been established that
Chávez's supporters killed any demonstrators. To the contrary,
there is reason to believe that rightwing snipers were responsible
for the deaths, many of which, it is now claimed, were Chávez
According to eyewitness Gregory Wilpert,
a former U.S. Fulbright scholar in Venezuela who lives in Caracas,
"there were three parties involved in the shooting, the
city police, Chávez supporters, and snipers from buildings
above." He says "most of the dead are Chavez supporters"
and "the snipers were members of an extreme opposition party,
known as Bandera Roja." In his
account published by CommonDreams.org, he dismisses as "mythology"
the claim that "Chávez armed and then ordered his
supporters to shoot at the opposition demonstration."
Now Venezuela is on the brink of civil
war. Police and soldiers are shooting at pro-Chávez demonstrators.
Where is The New York Times now on these developments?
How is it possible that you were so completely off-base in your
I think that the Times really does
have to review the way it covered this event and make some changes.
I realize that the situation was chaotic, but if an observer
in the crowd could come up with an entirely different version
of what happened, you begin to wonder if the Times' correspondent
was just watching it all on TV.
Or was it worse -- was he on someone's
payroll? That's an ugly accusation, but the credibility of the
paper is at stake. Is the New York Times an independent
news source or is it somebody's propaganda outlet? I could offer
you other examples of how your newspaper seems to run the official
line instead of digging out the news. After a while, it really
begins to look suspicious, doesn't it?
You might argue that there was no other
interpretation possible, but the San Francisco Chronicle
looked at the same events and came up with an
entirely different conclusion. I am sending you their editorial
below. I think it's well worth your consideration. I look forward
to seeing what I believe is the world's greatest newspaper --
The New York Times -- examine its own policies and make
the necessary changes.
Many thanks for your consideration.
Honesty and Integrity for
We All Should Strive"
I co-edit the Web site onlinejournalism.com
for the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern
California and this morning I linked to your story about the
coup attempt in Venezuela, which I found on Jim
Next month, I am graduating from the graduate program in print
journalism, and your story made me realize how inadequate my
quicky, two-year education has been. Although there have been
vague rumblings about the fightening power of big corporate media
in classes, nothing has ever been as terrifyingly articulate
and moving as your piece was for me this morning. In one story,
you perfectly illustrated the honesty and integrity for which
we should all strive. It will certainly stay with me as a lesson
that I so sadly missed in class.
As I did in some way with the link this morning, I will continue
to spread your word. I am passing your story on to my professors
in hopes of stimulating some much-needed discussion. Thank you
again, and congratulations on your fantastic work.
Authentic Journalism Movement"
Just wanted to say:
Thank you for your reporting, and your
links to others' reporting, on Venezuela in the past week (and
before). It's been invaluable and a true inspiration.
I'm struck by the power of the grassroots
in Latin America of late -- not only in Venezuela, but in Bolivia,
where the people drove out a foe as formidable as Bechtel. Bechtel
is building the U.S.'s largest power plant about 4 miles from
my home here in upstate New York; would that Americans had the
same gumption as Bolivians.
Maybe I missed it, but it would be great
also to have links to sites about the Authentic Journalism movement
on Narconews... That way others could follow your lead and read
about how it's done.
Again, the throughts of a grateful nation
of skeptics are with you tonight.
(former Esquire columnist, now a grassroots
Should Be Rejoicing" Over Coup
instead of complaining about the treatment
of chavez and his gangster castro cronies, you should be rejoicing
with the venezuelan people on the removal of chavez and his communistic
regime. but obviously this concept is foreign to a left-wing
journalist as yourself.
If Bush Tried the Same?
What kind of fantasy world do you live
More than 100,000 civilians from all walks
of life protested in the streets of Caracas. Mr. Hugo Chavez
tried to disinform his people by first curtailing all television
coverage in the news and stating categorically that the strike
had failed even though it was on its third day.
The people of Venezuela have spoken. They
have deposed a murderer who didn't think twice to have his own
people killed in order for him to stay in power. The Armed Forces
did the responsible thing in arresting a murderer and holding
him for trial.
If President Bush was to do the same thing
in this country, I would hope that our authorities would arrest
him and depose him immediately.
Publisher replies: Uh, sir or madam, can you spell
Called It Right Again"
You called it right again. Without you
we would have no idea of what's going on. I pray for your safety
and also I hope your web site does not get shut down like Michael
Now it seems VHeadline.com
is off line. Bush Administration wants us in the dark and with
ever diminishing rights.
Thanks, you are simply the greatest.
Activist is Born"
I was sitting in the university computer
room and saw an adjacent screen with the word "Chile"
as an "Unclassified Government Document" ~1970.
The student was doing a paper on South
American issues. I told him that narconews has current South
American news that you won't find anywhere else, printed out
a recent narconews story and gave it to him. He thanked me and
wished me luck and I knew another activist had been born.
Around the Clock
Thanks for the great work Al et al
Congratulations on your two years.
You have indeed turned the tide, and are
bring many people hope and joy in a sometimes ugly world. you
have helped democracy and truth - talk about lofty achievements!
YOU ROCK!! like the kiddies say! I passed your recent post "3
days that shook....." around and got some real thanks and
found you some new fans.
may you have health and luck for decades
Revolution Will Be Uploaded...
I read your coverage of the Venezuelan
coupe de theatre; it was right up there with the best of Jack
Narconews is proof that truth expands
in a vaccum.
In the mean time, take care; solidarity
in the struggle -- and we always knew the revolution would not
A Reader in San Antonio
Nightmare Will Be Delayed...
keep it up. you may help hold off the worldwide, totalitarian
nightmare for a few extra months.
Congrats on your two years. Grateful to
have someone as dedicated as you speaking out.
keep it up.
i could say more, but you've heard it
already. you're doing the right thing.
I am EXTREMELY worried! The U.S. State
Dept. has told all U.S. to get out. My fear is that the CIA is
planning more action against President Chavez, and that it wants
no U.S. witnesses. And that furthermore, that they know that
the action being planned will result in massive unrest that could
pose a danger.
I am worried that the next step of their
plan may be the assassination of Chavez. I pray for his safety,
I hope he is well-guarded.
PLEASE, if you can, get the word out!
Make sure the Chavistas are on high alert. This isn't over.
of appreciation on
Happy Second Anniversary, Narco News!
celebrates its Second Anniversary today and in just two years
Al Giordano's crusade for authentic journalism is an unqualified
a success story. Tens of thousands of people visit Narco News
each day and why shouldn't they? Where else can you get the the
kind of independent, insightful, unbought and unpaid for coverage
that Al and his contributors provide from south of the Land of
the Court-appointed Gringo?(Let's hear Lee Greenwood fit that
in a song title! I'm proud to be a south of the Land of the Court-appointed
A year ago Narco News had already
become such a thorn in the side of the hypocritical drug warriors
that Al was facing a major (nuisance) lawsuit intended to shut
down NN and chill independent on-line journalism. Last December,
the hunter was captured by the game
when the suit against Al by the Bank of Mexico was thrown out
of court. This set an important precedent protecting free speech
for all journalists, not just co-opted corporate lemmings.
Since then Narco News has continued
to break important stories and set and demand high standards
for journalism. Don Hazen and AlterNet learned this last month
when Al exposed bounty payments AlterNet
was receiving but neither disclosing to, nor sharing with,
its grossly underpaid freelancers.
Just this past week Narco News
provided the most cogent and timely English language analysis
of the Venezuelan coup. And don't be surprised if Al jumps out
of Narco News birthday cake with yet another scoop from
the country that turned the CIA into this year's biggest April
In two short years, Narco News
has become a venerable journalistic institution. It couldn't
have happened without the integrity, infectious enthusiasm and
tenacity of Al Giordano, the man who has set the platinum standard
for authentic journalism. From somewhere in América, Narco
News has found its way into all of our hearts. Please read
and support Narco News, the little website that packs
a worldwide wallop!
With great love and admiration,
Publisher Replies: The greatest authentic journalist
of the 18th of April of '75 rode a horse and reported "The
British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!" Political
Crimmins is our modern day Paul Revere.
Great piece on Venezuela. Lets see if
the mainstream media starts to report the news as its really
A Journalist in Panamá
It is so obvious what is going on in Venezuela
just from reading the International Press Services that one wonders
why the so-called Internet press has nothing to say. I'm talking
about Counterpunch, The Nation, Cursor, Alternet, even the World
Socialist Web Site. What is going on here?
A Careful Reader
Publisher Replies: I wouldn't put all those news organizations
in the same basket. We know that Alternet is corrupted and unethical, but the others are weighing in
splendidly now and I'm sure we'll hear more from them. Narco
News was out of the gate first because this is our beat,
we have the sources on the ground, and it happened in a language
-- Spanish -- that we understand. Plus, we've been on red alert
ever since Authentic Journalist Kim Alphandary predicted the coup in a February 20th Narco News story.
We're not the best, but
we are the fastest when it comes to authentic journalism and
accurate news reporting in English from Latin America. We're
driving the story and authentic journalists from all those media
organizations (minus one) are doing their part, too. We're working
with most of them. Check out our links on the front page and in our Narco News White Paper, Three Days That Shook
the Media. We are
not alone in this, not by a longshot. Like we said the other
day, a thousand slingshots brought this Goliath down to earth.
We just had ours loaded and ready to go. We don't intend to put
this slingshot down.
Can I Do?"
For my of my adult life
I have obeyed the "law" and believed what I have been
told by the powers that be but in my latter years I have come
to understand what lies and crimes are committed by those in
People like you are rapidly
becoming the only line of defense protecting the rights of individuals
against corporate power whether in government or business (one
might argue that they are becoming indistinguishable). As each
branch of constitutional government becomes compromised people
like me find that the truth can only be found in sites like yours.
Please continue your work. What can I do to help?
Publisher Replies: Subscribe to our alerts list and spread the word far and wide
with each report. It's the readers that give Narco News
its reach. We are nothing without you. We're all in this project
of Authentic Journalism together. Thanks for your kind words.
a Journo Who Issues Corrections...
You were right, Brian
Jones is playing a sitar on Paint it Black.;-))
Guess I was mistaken.
I'm watching on old video now, in which he blatantly playing
a genuine sitar.
Journalist, New York City
Likes Narco News
I was motivated to write
you and let you know how grateful I am for your site and the
dedication of all involved. I've been reading Narco News
for a number of months now, and have been extremely impressed
with everything I've seen. And the recent reporting on the coup
in Venezuela has cemented my high opinion of your publication.
I gave up television over
eight months ago, tired of incessant commercialism and the constant
lies of the corporate news organizations. Even NPR is generally
a great disappointment. While driving to work last week I heard
NPR report on the coup, and one of their talking heads explained
how Pedro Carmona was a good choice to run the country, and that
he had "no political ambition of his own". Hearing
that I couldn't wait to get home and get online and start searching
for the truth I knew I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else.
Narco News was my first stop, and I was not disappointed.
So, I just wanted to let
you know that your efforts are greatly appreciated.
You are doing a great
service for this planet.
Thank you for your courage.
Thank you for dedication.
Thank you for the truth.
Thank you for your brilliant
reporting of the events in Venezuela!
Don't stop what you are
doing: you're making the world a brighter and truer place and
you're helping me to keep believing in truth!
You are due congratulations and thanks for your insightful writing
and reporting on the situation the last few days in Venezuela.
I plan to return to your site often, so as to become more aware
of what is happening in Central and South America.
All my life I've dismissed
upheavals south of the U.S. as the norm, never realizing "my"
own country had anything to do with the situations.
I believe that if someone
like me is becoming aware of the United States' true nature when
it comes to the well-being of other nations, then many more U.S.
citizens are becoming similarly aware. And it is through the
efforts of your website and others that we are learning the truth.
In time, we can hope, such a widened awareness will result in
a change in U.S. policies towards other sovereign nations.
Many, many thanks,
Just got to say your coverage
of the Chavez affair has been RIGHT ON. I could not believe when
I heard the BBC, reporting Chavez had resigned, without a shred
of evidence to the effect. What the hell is going on with foreign
coverage? Is everybody just repeating the first wire story that
(don't answer-- I know...)
Out from Boston
I love your site and info.
I used to scour the Globe, Herald, and New York Times
for small bits of real news on the world events that I now
find routinely covered and updated frequently on your site. I
stopped checking those papers a year ago when I found your site.
I manage a Boston based
hard rock band. We are doing it ourselves but working with lots
of the biggest names in the area. Bonescrew also focuses on politics
and we consider ourselves renegade political activists.
I serve on the MASSCANN/NORML
Board of Directors. http://www.masscann.org Like other political bands before
us, Rage Against the Machine being the most recent, we are finding
our fans are knowledgeable and getting involved. An interview
I just did. http://gigdates.net/story.php?id=202 We link and shout out some great
sites on our Bonescrew website and we have a bulletin board were
fans post. Narco NEWS is linked and something we tell
our fans to check out regularly.
One recent post was quite
entertaining. It's title was "Hugo Chavez is the man!"
Check us out. Let me know if there are any other websites you
think we should direct our fans to.
I love what you are doing
and look up to you for being a beacon of light. A role model
on how to stay true while working among the large media corporations.
Good to see you are back doing pieces in the Phoenix.
Somewhere in the Mountains
Nice goin', Al. Don't
give the bastards an inch.
A million thanks for this piece of yours that I forwarded wildly!
Glad for your being there!
Good work and a really
good show as Ed Sullivan used to say in favor of cyber journalists
who like yourself are not afraid to call a spade a spade,
Home of the Brave
You are a true hero Al.
Words cannot express the debt of gratitude owed to you and your
colleagues by freedom-loving people around the world. You and
the internet and the brave people of Venezuela have rendered
their old strategies less effective. But the battle is not over.
How will they respond? Likely with more lies.
At least you've got job
Durham, North Carolina
You for the News
I am from India, an engineering
After the coup took place
I was very depressed. I came to the Internet after two days,
and read 2 or 3 articles in the Internet on coup. Then there
was a link to Narco News in Z-net. I clicked there. I was amazed
to find out that the coup has failed. Thank you again for the
You guys are doing great
work. I express my solidarity with you.
Free and Fair Elections
Your Venezuela coverage
is just excellent.
As you well know I have
little regard for socialism and its politicians.
But the US coup is just
People ought to be allowed
to choose their own governments and so learn from the experience.
Without responsibility there is no learning. The government ought
to be the people's choice.
As long as a place has
regular free and fair elections it's form of government ought
not be of any concern to America. Barring military attacks on
neighbors or America..
Brand of Authentic Journalism"
Please allow me to say
first that I am so very respectful and appreciative of your brand
of journalism... authentic journalism. It is one of the few hopes
I have left that there may be a way out of this disturbingly
fast gloom that is spreading over the N. American news orgs.
If they continue going the way they are headed, straight into
the hands of those politicians that would be little-Hitlers,
then it is difficult for me to see a way out.
When the populace itself
has been blinded by the very instrument they've come to depend
on to keep their eyes open, then the situation is all but hopeless.
"The People" must see before any social movement can
Big Bully Can't Always Win"
I am so encouraged by
this story. There is hope. The big bully can't always win. I
am very grateful to you for authentic journalism.
I Checked Your Site..."
Thought you might like
to know: without your web page I - as someone who lives in the
UK and watches the 'mainstream' news - would have had absolutely
NO IDEA that anything was happening in Venezuela at all. I didn't
even get the pro-coup NY Times version of events, I got nothing
at all - the BBC seemingly did not bother to report anything,
or if they did I missed it. My friend said she read about it
in The Guardian (UK newspaper) but I was totally in the dark
until I checked your site on Monday & discovered that it
had all happened.
This kind of thing brings
home to me what a desperate state we're in in the so-called democratic
world and what a vital job people like yourself are doing:
Of course it took the
people themselves to actually restore democracy, but without
people like you there would be no hope for any of us.
Piece of Work"
Narco News '02 was a god
piece of work.
Publisher, Hägglunds förlag
Live Narco News!"
to have you in the People's Army in the "War On Some Drugs!"
Your successes against
Banamex, your accurate reporting of events and the stands you
take all further the cause of freedom. Without people like you,
us mud soldiers would have a tough time finding out what's going
Long live the Narco News!
Sent Your Articles..."
if just a handful of the
people i send your articles to read & think about them it'll
be a great thing.
thanks for the great work,
Great reporting, great
Politics in the Zeros weblog
Political musings, California and otherwise
Just like the first day
I logged on, I find NarcoNews.com to be a tremendous inspiration.
Two years ago today, the western hemishpere became a LOT brighter
place, when your wellspring of Authentic Journalism began "breaking
the information blockade" and showing, conclusively, how
imperialistic and destructive and wasteful this damned War on
Drugs has become.
May the Narco News-inspired
Media Renaissance last for many years--until, one hopes, true
justice, peace and cooperation (as opposed to the corruption,
tyranny and greed we have now) become the new social and political
realities in our America.
¡Viva La Verdad!
Freelance writer, from somewhere in the northeast of America
For More Narco News, Click
Slingshot Army Marches On...