The press: Nicaragua and the US

For as long as I have kept track of Nicaragua (over 30 years) it has always had a press that disagreed with the government. Up until Ortega's re-election, that had meant some press agreeing and some press disagreeing. With Ortega's second coming it has mostly been an anti-government press.

The result has been somewhere between exposure of government wrongdoing and creation of anti-government news. Where you draw that line will likely depend on your political stripes but, no matter, it has been easy to find anti-government facts or at least opinion.

During that same time, the US press has been pretty useless. Yes, when the government got caught with its pants down, the press at least gave lip service to what had happened. But, for the most part, it did little to inform the public. Here are some examples from this same timeframe:

  • Illegal funding of the Contras. Yes, we know this now but when Nicaragua was being destroyed, the US press didn't question what was going on. We can also toss in civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala.
  • US government involvement in transporting cocaine from El Salvador to the US.
  • Lots of 9/11-related questions from training pilots in Venice Florida to really questioning the official report. (I know there are lots of 9/11 conspiracy theories, most of which do not deserve serious press, but something as obvious as what really happened to Building 7 could be good investigative journalism.)
  • The Iraq WMD big lie and what was really going on with Iraq.
  • Use of taxpayer money to bail out those who caused the 2008 financial problems instead of those who were the victims.

There are lots more, of course. These are but some pretty obvious examples. In general, the press supported the government rather than the people. I assert this is one of the reasons Nicaragua seems to be doing OK and, well, the US is not.

Now, are things changing?

It is really starting to look like it is. There is a lot of possible reasons -- from the Internet to AlJazeera. I have good reason to mention those two specific sources. Here is why.

The Internet makes it possible for anyone to get their news out immediately. Not processed by news organizations, getting OKed by a government and such. What is know as The Arab Spring is an obvious example. Quite different from the embedded journalists game in Iraq.

AlJazeera is, like the BBC, government funded. Thus, they don't have to humor advertisers. They have been doing decent investigative journalism. While the government in Doha may have something to say about what they cover, they are independent of the US, the UK, Germany, Russia, China, ...

Is there hope for the US major media?

If you asked me a year ago I would have said no but maybe there is. I am going to pick the Snowden story as my example because it is so clear. I offer the thread on A42 as my supporting documentation.

About a year ago Snowden was asked why he didn't go through channels with his concerns. He said he had tried but nothing happened. Bart Gellman of the Washington Post inquired and the NSA said “after extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention.”

Snowden re-affirmed that he had brought the matter up in his NBC interview. The NSA has now "found" one communication. Snowden says there are lots more. NBC has said they are going to submit an FOIA request.

While the MSM has not been seriously involved in Snowden's revelations they are now involved in a situation where the government lied and it sounds like they are going to follow up. This has nothing to do with the secret data but all to do with a government attempt to cover up wrongdoing. Let's see what happens next.

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It's Great That

Nicaragua has a free press. I hope that never changes, and as long as Ortega feels secure in his popularity with the people, it probably won't. He has been what Nicaragua has needed the last few years, and while I'm not an unabashed fan, I would question whether another could have done better.

Nicaragua is on the right track, IMHO.

I would change . . . " we know this now but when Nicaragua was being destroyed . ." to when Nicaragua was being "saved" . .

Without the Contra intervention Nicaragua would be some gray, impoverished, shadow of Cuba, with everyone wearing faded army uniforms with red stars. Country WOULD be a lot cleaner through, people wouldn't have money to buy chips and gaseosas. Even Communism has some benefits.

One Cuba, one North Korea, is enough. The world is moving on, and Nicaragua with it.

Snowden? The interview is not complete without viewing the NBC followup. Most of what Snowden claimed during the inverview was refuted. This was not Fox News, but a very liberal Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell who found very little truth in Snowden's claims, and were eager to distance themselves from him and his actions. Several of Snowden's statements during the interview were shown to be outright lies, others shaded the truth, or omitted the entirety of it.

But, it matters little. The guy is toxic, he'll be living in the country of his dreams, where no one spies on your phone calls, your emails, your travels, a magical place.

On Snowden

My point was about the press, not about Snowden per se. But, there does seem to be some decent Snowden followups including from Daniel Ellsberg. I don't want to turn this thread into Snowden politics. See for that discussion.

You seem to be missing

one important fact:
Nicaragua is one of many unimportant third world countries that the press could discuss and to learn anything meaningful about this country as well as all the others is no small task.
AND - How many of their customers care anyhow? - Will these subjects sell advertising and earn a profit - The God and necessary mother's milk of capitalism? These guys don't work for free.

Both you and KWP have a one-way tunnel vision viewpoint and look for reasons and excuses to be "right" rather than to perform impartial analysis. This is not exactly the method to come to the "truths' if there even are any.

The press consists of many charlatans out to make a buck for themselves - Most visible are KWP's hero and his Fox News partners along with Pat Robertson, and past promoters Jim & Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Rev. Sun-Myung Moon, etc.
Oops - Almost left out Rush Limbaugh!
Probably should have included most of the politicians today as well since playing the press is their game.
Obama is gonna play catch-up selling influence later like most of them do.
Gotta include Dr. Oz as well as the health nut folks & sites promoting natural snake oil.
The mentor of all of them: P T Barnum!

In fact DO, his family, & FSLN own much of the media here - La Prensa is the only newspaper that is critical of the government.

And DO's illegal ownership of the Supreme Court & Legislature is the final nail in the coffin of anything good about the government here for the foreign press to report - What do you expect?
In spite of this foreign handouts keep this country solvent more or less but the average sap in the bario or campo only sees an occasional sheet of tin.

Let the good times roll and damn the facts!

Such A Cynic :)

I think we can all agree that DO & La Compañera are in firm control of Nicaragua. You can get emotional about the wasted human investment in the revolution, but in the end, it is what it is, and most of the country accepts it.

The better educated know what is going on, but what percentage of Nicaragua is that? I'd venture less than 1% What percentage even reads a newspaper (hell, who reads a newspaper in the US anymore)?

So, we have a kinder and more benevolent Somoza.

There is some kind of pivot, or reset, happening in Nicaragua. In the end, it's all about the money, and, given the changes in Venezuela, it's not surprising that Nicaragua is looking elsewhere. Will they find what they need in Russia or Iran? Probably not. You don't see Russians and Iranians in the country building schools, providing medical procedures that are otherwise unavailable. They may hand the Nicaraguan foreign minister a bag of money from time to time, and the Russians may replace some weapons, but is there anything else happening?

China? Maybe, but the latest series of earthquakes must give pause to investors, even those with pockets as deep as the Chinese government. Maintaining a sufficiently deep channel through Lake Nicaragua remains a challenge. I suggest three channels, that way one can be constantly dredged without impacting the flow of ships . .

News source? You take it where you find it. Fox News Latino does a good job of covering LA and the Carib. Fox US covers things that don't appear on the regular "main stream media". It comes down to, as John says, what sells. CNN used to be the premier news service, they still have the name, but they lost the viewership to Fox News. Bias? Sure, but I'm a "get a haircut, get a real job" kind of guy so it fits.

I look at much of the Nicaragua news through the lens of "how will this affect my tenure and investment here"? So far, I haven't seen serious concerns. I like what is happening in Venezuela and Cuba. The people of both countries deserve a better government.

Aggravations, sure, endless, some of the ways things are done here drive me nuts,, but when they build to the point I find myself sufficiently annoyed I take a break. I used to go to CR, lately I've re-discovered Honduras.

Did I mention that the Hotel Esperanza also has WiFi -AND really hot water (almost too hot) for that $21 price?