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Homage to the truth tellers

Journalists are informants, watchdogs, and storytellers. They report the news people want to hear, and too often, news they do not. They are the primary connection to the world outside our windows, and it is through their reporting that we see the world.

If information is freedom, journalists hold the key to liberty.

Reporters may seem old fashioned, but the values they stand for are not. Hacking through the Brier Patch of tribalism and clearing the underbrush of chicanery is vital to maintaining a free and informed citizenry, and it is the responsibility of reporters to shepherd a clear path forward. Our cultural landscape is littered with the grim consequences of failure to heed history; it is the reporter who, by sheer grit and determination, exposes the recurring malevolent forces swirling around us in ferocious fury every single day.

Their work is the written word. It has survived the chops and changes of time longer than any other substance. What was yesterday a cornfield is now a planned community, once vibrant cities are now ruins hawked for their antiquity, but the written word lives on.

Alarmingly, a few people have become so distracted by ceaseless chatter and their own intellectual negligence that they have succumbed to the regrettable notion that fact is somehow negotiable. Although it is all but inconceivable that the reality of truth needs defending, it does. And, it is journalists who are charged with preserving the sanctity of language by combining old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell and preserve the truth — for the test of truth is the length of life.

For many, this dedication to the truth, to providing clarity to life, comes with tragic consequence – the loss of life itself. Increasingly we read of reporters being kidnapped, jailed and or, as in the case of Jamal Khashoggi, savagely murdered in a lubberly attempt to suppress the truth.

Although corrupt nations and multi-national interests rail against a thorough investigation, we can take solace in these prophetic words from 1596.

“Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man’s son may, but at the length, truth will out.”

(The Merchant of Venice,  Wm. Shakespeare ).

The slings and arrows of time will forever rain down on us. Immovable objects will block our way, and many an unseen event will change the course of our life as swiftly as water submits to gravity’s creeks and streams.

So, rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun. There will always be a cadre of stalwart principled people working on your behalf to present to you the stories of today, and risking their lives to shape a better tomorrow.

The most important holiday in the U.S. is quickly approaching. Now would be an excellent time to write a note to your favorite news sources expressing your support for a vigorous and free press.

8 thoughts on “Homage to the truth tellers

  1. NIce sentiment RJ. While I could rail against Cuenca and Paute expats who served as useful idiots for the prior regime as it worked to gag the free press in Ecuador, I instead will link to a story in English not covered by CHL, which was the signing of the Chapultepec Declaration by President Moreno on February 20th.

    I will also share part of the statement made by the president of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) who attended the signing:

    “When we, the IAPA, speak of freedom of the press in Ecuador, what comes to mind is two countries. One, the previous, personified by a dark and authoritarian past. The other, the current, personified by a lack of fear and democratic tolerance.”

    1. The Moreno regime has been working hand in hand with the national press outlets since he did a 180 on his campaign promises in July of 2017. They have been conspicuously uncritical of anything he has done, a curious position considering how they attacked him relentlessly literally right up until that point. It stands to reason that they now talk about “lack of fear and democratic tolerance” considering the fact that they are clearly complicit in his policy.

      But ask individual journalists if they lack fear and the story is very different.

      Since 2017, Ecuadorian journalists who have been critical have been systematically shut out of the discussion. Over half the editorial staff at El Telegrafo was dismissed. They just happened to be those who had written articles critical of Moreno’s new policies.

      When Caterva broke the GEA scandal, he was immediately “suspended” from his job, only returning a week later after a major outpouring of support from social media.

      Dato Certero, an investigative outlet that was one of the first to reveal irregularities in donations to Moreno’s foundation during his time in Switzerland, was taken off the web for nearly 6 months following a spurious complaint to their web host from the government claiming they had used copyrighted photos in their stories. The ISP refused to hear any argument claiming they took complaints from national governments seriously. The photos in question were from the government’s official Instagram account, where it explicitly states that the photos have been made publicly available to all media outlets.

      The same tactic was used to temporarily shutdown, one of the last “just the facts ma’am” press outlets left in the country. Their ISP was similarly intimidated by the government’s communications office for the same offense, but after the outlet sent it’s lawyers to meet directly with the ISP’s officials in Canada and prove that no violation had occurred, they were able to get back online.

      The web host for La Fuente, the outlet that broke the INA Papers story, has received dozens of similar threats from the communications ministry but has refused to take down their site. Even 4Pelegatos, long a darling of the right, has been under attack from the government after they broke ranks with the national media and criticized the sacking of the Constitutional Court and the appointment of the least qualified candidate to Attorney General.

      Andres Michelena, Moreno’s Communications Minister, has stated publicly and on multiple occasions that he has “dozens” of more indications of violations by the abovementioned press outlets and that they will ultimately succeed in having them shut down.

      It should be noted that the national media has been silent on ALL of these events. This is the same national media that made it front page news for weeks every time Correa criticized or refuted a press outlet. They have been completely silent on the systematic purging of critical journalists, editorialists and whole media outlets. It took them nearly two months to even mention the INA papers and to this day they rarely dedicate more than a tangential mention to it. Fundamedios, the US-financed NGO that drove the narrative that Correa was “muzzling the free press” has been conspicuously silent on all these issues, outright ignoring public complaints from journalists for them to do something about it.

      On a side note, last week the head of Fundamedios, Cesar Ricaurte, was sentenced to 15 days in prison and to issue a public apology for attacking Correa’s former ambassador to Germany in a Supermaxi in Quito in 2018. Ricaurte claimed it was “correista justice” continuing to attack free speech, that he only chastised the victim and was then in fact the one who was attacked and was only defending himself. The security camera videos that were presented in court that were used to convict him have recently been leaked and have gone viral on social media. They clearly show an elderly man who walks with a cane standing in the checkout line minding his own business when Ricaurte comes from across the room and knocks him to the floor. Since the release of the videos, Fundamedios has ceased to issue any more statements on the issue. Those are the people who have been framing the narrative for the past decade, the narrative that has been parroted repeatedly on the front page by the “once silenced but now free” media so that people like you will believe you remember that Correa was the one muzzling the free press. The same press that has decided the story of their darling attacking an elderly handicapped man in a public space, like every other story that doesn’t fit their narrative, isn’t worth reporting either.

      But it really doesn’t matter, does it? The fact that the press attacked Correa relentlessly every single day of his presidency doesn’t mean they weren’t being censored, right? I mean, even though no press outlet was shut down (like they are now), no journalist was ever fired (like they are now) and nobody was ever sent to jail for telling the truth (like Assange) during the Correa administration should in no way influence the narrative that the press was silenced then and free now. If Fox News has taught us one thing about the media in the 21st century, it’s that the truth is no longer about objective facts. It’s whatever the useful idiots in your base believe it is.

      Incidentally, two weeks ago Moreno presented a bill to the National Assembly for a law that would make it a crime punishable by imprisonment and a fine for any person that makes any statement, through any media, that “discredits or dishonors” another person. That law would apply to statements made on social media and discussion forums such as this one.

      Tell me more about the current country, “personified by lack of fear and democratic tolerance.” I’ll tall you more about what’s actually happening on the ground.

    2. For the record:

      IAPA is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of more than 70 non-governmental organisations that monitors press freedom and freedom of expression violations worldwide.

      It has been criticized by many Latin American journalists’ trade unions, who claim that it only represents the owners of the large media corporations, that it does not seem to defend journalists themselves, and that it is closely related to right-wing parties.

        1. Criticism of the IAPA predates Chavez by decades. In the 1970s, Penthouse and Rolling Stone Magazine even exposed how they were financed by the CIA and how they played an instrumental role in the media lynching of Salvador Allende and ran flack for the Pinochet dictatorship throughout his reign of terror. The fact that left-leaning governments are critical of a CIA brass plate in no way takes away from the fact that they are not a reliable source of information for anyone seeking the truth. They aren’t an NGO dedicated to freedom of the press. They’re a long-ago confirmed psyops front that spearheads misinformation campaigns in the name of US foreign policy. You could find a better source from which to form an opinion.

          Or maybe you could just address the multiple accounts I provided of how the Moreno administration has been systematically trying to silence journalists who are critical of their policies and those who expose corruption in the administration and contrast that with the IAPA’s assertion that the press lived in fear under Correa and now is living through a time of “democratic tolerance”. Surely that would be a better way to prove the hypothesis that the press is now freer than it was under Correa than trying to defend an organization that was outed as nothing more than a CIA front all the way back in the Johnson administration. You could even support your supposition that the press was silenced under Correa by providing examples of stories reported in the international media that were not reported here, maybe naming journalists who were fired or jailed, etc.

          There are so many ways to drive your point home. Being a useful idiot for people who overthrow democracies and support murderous regimes isn’t one of them. Here’s an interesting book you can read that outlines the CIA’s actions in Latin America over the past 70 years. As you’ll notice, the IAPA features prominently in all of their campaigns.

  2. The article is a warm sentiment, but I think the author is living in a world that ceased to exist a long time ago. I’m often left dumbfounded by the glaring factual inaccuracies reported on issues I’m intimately familiar with or even events I was involved in. I have to wonder how many inaccuracies are being reported about events I didn’t see in person or about subjects for which I have no expertise.

    1. Indeed Jason! CHL like all who follow the current US media template, sell advertising, first and foremost. As such, they cherry pick articles to either please the audience they perceive or please themselves. Truth is, at best, an also ran. As for “warm sentiments” , a huge regular dollop of apple pie is apparently considered necessary to this mix. 😀

      1. Huh? All media, everywhere, “cherry pick” the articles it prints and posts. Content choices have to be made, obviously. That’s the job of editors.

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