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IAPA is at it again...

And this time, it looks like they may have the otherwise useful and non-idiotic Editor and Publisher on side:

Top officials of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) believe pressure from the Hugo Chavez government is behind a Venezuelan hotel's sudden cancellation as the press freedom group's spring 2008 meeting.

IAPA's executive committee will discuss changing the site of its mid-year meeting next March after a hotel in Maracaibo, Venezuela, withdrew its offer to be the meeting venue.

IAPA had already moved the meeting to Maracaibo because the host committee of Venezuelan publishers were unable to book hotels in the capital Caracas or on Margarita Island.

The host committee told IAPA the hotel in Maracaibo backed out "due to the prevailing situation in the South American country."

Actually, I'll bet it's because the hotel owner (unnamed, how convenient!) is of the oligarchy--or is afraid of the adverse publicity a pro-oligarchy meeting like this is bound to generate. Either that, or it's just the IAPA's usual "Chavez hates democracy" claptrap being spun from a non-event whose non-eventitude was a foregone conclusion. Anyplace in Venezuela trying to host an IAPA "event" will surely get all kinds of well-deserved public criticism and picketing. The Venezuelan people, not being stupid, already know all the dirty tricks being played by the media against their president. This is just another in a long series, and there is plenty of reason to believe that this "unfortunate" pull-out was planned in advance to generate publicity and to further the Big Lie. (Please note that there is NO report that the Venezuelan government has actually moved in a concrete way to stop the "event"--by denying visas to the participants! Coincidence? Turn up your speakers really loud, and you might just hear the sardonic chuckling coming from my end.)

One thing is for sure, though, the always fair and balanced IAPA made no secret of which side its bread is buttered on:

At its mid-year meeting this March IAPA delegates adopted a resolution "to denounce before the international community the dictatorial violation of freedom of expression by the regime of Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela."

Meeyow!

"Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez"--not PRESIDENT Hugo Chavez, no, never that. Never mind that he retired from the military soon after he landed up in the calabozo for attempting to overthrow that lousy-excuse-for-a-president that was Carlos Andres Perez (who was forcibly relieved of his own posting by the Venezuelan congress soon thereafter). Never mind that Chavez was subsequently pardoned by Rafael Caldera. Never mind that he was democratically elected with a solid majority subsequent to that. No, for some strange reason, according to the IAPA, the long-since-civilian President Chavez is still wearing his military rank along with his old uniform (which it appears he has since outgrown, or at least had let out in a major way to accommodate all that sadly necessary Kevlar.)

Meanwhile, we get the following unsubstantiated allegation by way of explanation for this non-story about a non-event:

IAPA President Rafael Molina, editor of the daily El Dia in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, said he believed the hotels had been pressured by the Chavez government.

"We regret, in the name of freedom of the press, democracy and the Venezuelan people, that they are closing the doors on us in such an inelegant and indirect manner," Molina said Thursday.

He said he believed, but he offered no concrete reason for his belief, that the hotels "had been pressured by the Chavez government"? And again--no one thought to get the owner of the hotel for HIS comments? By that standard, we might as well concede that there is an Easter Bunny, simply on the basis of somebody's belief therein.

And all this was allowed to pass by the various editors and publishers, without benefit of even a rudimentary fact-check? Wow! What stellar reporting from these incredibly measured and nuanced journalists! Somebody please toss them a trophy! (And be sure you aim for the whites of their eyes.)

But don't anyone feel too sorry for the IAPA...they've already picked up their whiffle ball and slunk off to their true home:

IAPA's 63rd annual General Assembly gets underway Saturday in Miami.

And of course, the crowning non-event of the non-event will be...drumroll please...

Among the topics of discussion will be the Venezuelan government's shut down of Radio Caracas Television in May. The station was critical of Chavez, and, many charge, sided with the officers who briefly ousted the president in a coup in 2002.

At the Miami meeting, IAPA will present its Grand Prize for Press Freedom to the television network's president, Marcel Granier.

Nice of E & P to put the "many charge" in there. I guess that is their sop to fairness and balance. But this is not a question of mere "charges". The facts are indisputable and on video for anyone interested to see--RCTV not only "sided with the officers" (and oligarchy) who made the attempt on Chavez's life, they actually called for his overthrow. They put out nonstop calls for protest in the street, they made no secret of who and what they were promoting, and when the coup fell apart (on account of vast popular support for Chavez, not the coupmongers), they refused to put out any news at all of the sudden reversals. And to add insult to injury, Granier had the gall to lie about it all later. (Which he has yet to stop doing.)

This is the "press freedom" that IAPA is now strewing laurels upon? Color me underwhelmed.

And what is the matter with E & P, repeating a lot of their unsubstantiated drivel and not questioning it? Right now, of all American media-analysis sites, it seems that only FAIR is covering Venezuela with any eye to setting the record straight.

And some people wonder why I have such disdain of the mainstream media, and why I say it's conservative as a motherfucker. Yeah, I wonder too. I also wonder why it's so hard to find any news from Venezuela that doesn't somehow try to work in a smear against its democratically elected president.