Responses to the Coup d'etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shoddy reporting or more lies from the VOA?

A story posted today on the Voice of America website manages to perpetuate two major falsehoods in the space of just twelve paragraphs, and also fails to accurately represent the split between countries committed to recognizing tomorrow's vote and those that have publically declared they will not do so. Not a very good scorecard: 3 major problems in 12 paragraphs: barely 75% correct.

First, the story claims that
Both Mr. Lobo and Mr. Santos support Mr. Zelaya's removal from power
Yet both Elvin Santos and Pepe Lobo have maintained a (largely unconvincing) claim not to have supported the coup. Lobo has, in campaigning, been quoted as saying once elected he will reach out to Zelaya.

Then, even worse, the story says
Both candidates also signed a pledge to respect the outcome of the vote and honor the constitutional ban on running for re-election. Mr. Zelaya was removed from office after pushing for a referendum to reconsider the ban.
To echo Greg Weeks, what would it take to get the media to stop repeating this inaccurate claim?

So, two outright incorrect statements. Then comes the misleading or incomplete report on recognition:
Brazil and Argentina have said they will not recognize the election because doing so would legitimize the coup. Costa Rica and Peru have suggested they are ready to recognize the vote.
Hmm. Now, who is missing from the list of countries that have said they will recognize the vote? I don't mean the US-- the previous paragraph says this has "divided Latin America", thus leaving the US position to one side. But what about the original statement by Panama's president Martinelli that has been widely trumpeted up till now?

And of course, the mention of Brazil and Argentina leaves out the explicit statement of Guatemala that it also will not recognize the election.

Is there something that links Panama and Guatemala (other than that they are Central American) that justifies not including them?

And of course, the entire Rio Group is on record as being opposed to the election. Do they have to come out, one by one, to be counted?

Reporting like this is inevitable, it seems. But it seems especially regrettable that it is coming from the VOA, which describes itself as
a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
and is widely recognized as speaking for the government.

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