T&T Media Attempts Its Own Coup
"The heights by great men reached and kept,
were not attained by sudden flight,
but they while their companions slept,
were toiling upward in the night."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
April 21, 2002
By Meri Ranut
Recently I wrote an article 'The Ongoing Lessons' about the power of the grassroots and the Internet in deflecting the dictates of the U.S. in the Venezuela coup. This article was written in response to what I observed over the three-day failed coup that the US and the Media attempted on the ordinary people in Venezuela and the wider world audience.
It dealt with the lack of integrity in the mainstream media where most reports are coloured by big-media biases.
The mainstream media has never been welcoming of the views from the grassroots except when it 'profits' them. Their 'hidden' agendas taint most of what they write and present as 'information'.
In Trinidad and Tobago our local media continued to pump the propaganda from the likes of BBC and CNN AP and Reuters for the period surrounding the failed Venezuela coup. Some local writers committed Chavez to an early grave. We here at Trinicenter.com worked continuously for over 48 hours, gathering and disseminating authentic information about what was really taking place in Venezuela during the coup.
We contacted many other media sources and independent journalists, two of media houses were Narconews.com and Vheadlines.com and we collaborated with them to disseminate the information that was sadly lacking. This was added to the wealth of information we were already featuring which was linked from the front pages of several of our Websites. Regular visitors to Trinicenter.com, RaceandHistory.com and TrinidadandTobagoNews.com can attest to this.
Case in point, in our article "Hugo Chávez must be returned as the democratically elected President of Venezuela", published on the 13th April 2002, we called for the immediate return of Mr Chavez. We followed this with an article on the 14th The Ongoing Lessons, followed by another article Congratulations to the ordinary people of Venezuela published on 16th April 2002. Trinicenter.com's work was the first and only media involvement from Trinidad and Tobago that gave the facts as they unfolded before and during the failed coup in Venezuela.
Trinicenter.com's role in toppling the U.S. backed Media farce that was taking place in and out of Venezuela was mentioned in an article dated 15th April 2002 "Three Days that Shook the Media; Online Journalism's Finest Hour Exposed and Reversed a Coup", written by Al Giordano. This article and the website narconews.com from which it came are mentioned prominently on our website. Even Mr Giordano was unaware of the amount of information we had on our site about the history of Venezuela, the attempts on Mr Chavez's life and or a Coup.
However, our work goes on exposing fake journalism.
In Trinidad and Tobago none of the local media houses paid attention or at worst they pretended not to pay attention to the work that we at Trinicenter.com did as it related to disseminating information on the Venezuelan Coup.
Another member of the Trinicenter.com team, Amon Hotep, called in on Radio programs and analyzed what was really happening in Venezuela and corrected the faulty news reports.
On Friday 12th he gave an analysis on a morning program, the following day he gave more facts that shocked the hosts of the popular radio program. The week following the failed coup the radio station 92.5FM felt pressured and hosted two programs to examine what really happened. The host and guests added nothing significantly new to what was already said by Mr Hotep and one of these programs was hosted by Mr Raffique Shah.
Mr Hotep took the information we gathered on our pages titled Venezuela and Chavez which we featured for a long time on the front pages of several of our Websites and he analyzed it so well that even the host, Raffique Shah, was left with no choice but to 'see' what happened in Venezuela and promised to invite Mr Hotep to guest on his show, to give a more detailed analysis at a later date. He noted that Mr Hotep had many contacts and would have access to more information.
However, the majority of the local media coverage was the same misinformation coming from the foreign mainstream sources.
On Sunday 14th the Trinidad Express published an article written by Mr Raffique Shah more or less accurate about the relationship between Chavez and the United States.
On Monday 15th April 2002 Keith Smith did his editorial about the Venezuelan issue, no doubt after reading what was presented on the Internet by the 'Authentic media'. Finally on Wednesday 17th April 2002 the Trinidad Express started a three day 'special' where they published the article "Three Days that Shook the Media: Online Journalism's Finest Hour Exposed and Reversed a Coup", written by Al Giordano.
Before they published this article on Monday 15th they carried an Associated Press (AP) article 'Chavez comeback hailed' then on Tuesday 16th they carried another AP report "Chavez wins second Honeymoon" that contained little information on the true story. So they were late with the real information like all the other mainstream media.
Having said all this, I now ask, how can Mr Shah write the extract below which was carried in his Sunday Express article "From Holocaust To Genocide", dated 21st April 2002?
"I do not intend to dwell on the situation in Venezuela, since so much has been said and written about the "Three Days That Shook Caracas". Moreover, the Trinidad Express took the lead in disseminating information on what transpired in Venezuela from non-traditional news sources. Our media houses have, for too long, relied on Reuters, AP, and more recently CNN and BBC. While journalists from these agencies usually report objectively, when the crunch comes, the "news controllers" take over. It is not unusual for editors and news directors in media houses to receive directives from Langley or the White House."
What!? Raffique? Which lead?
After all that was done over the Internet, the calls on local radio programs where Mr Hotep gave more details, analyzing and explaining the role independent media played in the failed coup, including our own Trinicenter.com, we are left with, "the Trinidad Express took the lead in disseminating information on what transpired in Venezuela from non-traditional news sources". Nowhere in the article was Trinicenter.com's role mentioned.
If however, the Trinidad Express claims to be the first newspapers to openly publish (late) news from alternative grassroots media sources then they are also admitting that they together with all the other media outlets in Trinidad and Tobago are guilty of many forms of negative discrimination because of that neglect.
This lack of integrity is what we are committed to fighting on a daily basis. These unreasonable media biases are at the root of the racism we often speak of.
Can this be the reason the Trinidad Express, part of a media conglomerate which owns TV6 Television station, continually refuses to grant members from Trinicenter.com and Self Empowerment Learning Fraternity (A legally registered non-profit organization) space on their TV6 Television station to highlight the non-profit work we do both at home and abroad?
Initially, not one of the local media houses took it upon themselves to seek out the facts before and during the failed coup in Venezuela.
They were very comfortable publishing the AP reports and when they did get some of the facts they misrepresented them. I wonder what motivated them to seek this Internet published article from Mr Al Giordano? The very article that the Trinidad Express published pointed directly to how we "helped turn one slingshot into a thousand stones fired from all directions until the Goliath lie - "Chávez resigned" - fell to earth with a thud heard 'round the world"
"The eyes of journalist Mari Ranut in the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago - just seven miles from the Venezuela coast, in the Caribbean sea - were looking for information as these events were unfolding. Unsatisfied by the news blackout of the commercial Venezuelan oligarch-controlled media, and the inauthentic reporting of the English-language media, she turned to the Internet, and found her way to these pages. Her newspaper, Trinicenter.com, like so many other online publications, helped turn one slingshot into a thousand stones fired from all directions until the Goliath lie - "Chávez resigned" - fell to earth with a thud heard 'round the world. Authentic Journalist Mari Ranut analyzed what had just occurred"
A significant portion of my article "The Ongoing Lessons" was carried within the feature written by Mr Al Giordano. Although the Trinidad Express published this entire article they did not credit Trinicenter.com and they refused to acknowledge that Trinicenter.com was one of the few authentic media sources that stayed with and carried the truth about what was unfolding in Venezuela. I guess they have their own agenda.
Quoting again from Raffique's article dated 21 April 2002, he shared the view that:
"We in tiny Trinidad and Tobago may hardly make a difference, even by speaking out at the UN, or writing our opinions in the press." (Article)
While he is entitled to that view and it may seem that way at times, I take strong objection to that view. If this is his belief then my advice to him is to stop writing immediately. However, he should not try to impose that 'third world' type of thinking on others. I know that I make a difference when I write. It is not a 'Job' for me but serious work and that is why I feel that those who choose to sleep on their jobs should not cheapen the work of others. He should at least tell the public the source of his directives if he thinks he cannot make a difference with his writings.
Journalists who failed to do their own investigations into what was happening in Venezuela can consider themselves an intrinsic part in the attempted Coup. The U.S. thrives on the comatose mainstream media personnel to continue their dirty work. The mainstream media simply plug in the intravenous news feed from CNN, BBC, AP and Reuters without further investigation and the misinformation continues.
This is especially true for journalists in Trinidad and Tobago living in such close proximity to Venezuela, and having been through two attempted coups the onus was on them to do proper investigative journalism. Up to now not one of the journalist or their employers have accepted responsibility for the fact that they allowed themselves to be duped, and are directly responsible for misleading the Trinidad and Tobago population.
I guess the local media is trying to recover from the embarrassment of not being on the ball with such a critical issue.
Do they really think that because most Trinidadians and Tobagonians do not have access to the Internet that the local media can get away with this historical distortion? Dale Enoch and Tony Lee of 92.5FM commended Mr Hotep for presenting the facts, before other local media outlets got access to our authentic journalism on the Internet several days after the events unfolded. Raffique himself commended our (Trinicenter.com) work on his radio program but for the written historical records they omitted us. The Trinidad Express omitted the role this alternative media played in history.
However, just as the truth came out in the Chavez/Venezuela issue, the truth about the Trinidad Express would be told….
This is the third attempted coup members of our team will foil.
We are not trying to take away from the work of other media sources, or the invaluable role of the grassroots people in defending democracy in Venezuela. However, the chronology of how the events and media reports unfolded is very important for historical records.
In another article we would address the embarrassing failure of all the leaders in Trinidad and Tobago, political and otherwise, to condemn and address the attempt to overthrow the democratically elected leader in Venezuela.