Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson Caught Lying About Hugo Chavez, Is Apparently Proud Of It

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 11, 2013

The blind spots caused by fealty to disaster capitalism and the Washington Consensus are wide, deep, and show up even in highbrow — or, as is often the case, middlebrow pretending to be highbrow — publications.

Oftentimes the forces of oligarchy, in an effort to win over socially liberal but economically untutored Westerners (especially Americans), will put on the appearance of a Westernized “modernity” in terms of dress and social mores as a cover for their grotesquely abusive treatment of the masses of their residents — think of how the Shahs of Iran, the waterboys for Western oil companies, pushed for things like miniskirts in Teheran even as the people in the countryside were hideously repressed and exploited, actions that made the common people associate Western social mores with Western brutality, greed and rapaciousness cloaked as “modernism” and “cosmopolitanism”. LGBT publications will laud the pro-gay speeches of someone like Venezuela’s right-wing, oligarchy-backed Henrique Capriles and give (deserved) critques to Nicolas Maduro for making and encouraging the occasional homophobic slurs that all too common in Latino culture; meanwhile, in Honduras, a few hundred miles up the Isthmus of Panama, the exact counterparts of Venezuela’s oligarchs dropped their gay-friendly masks once their coup was firmly accomplished, and state security forces have taken part in several of the 80-plus known murders of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Hondurans since the 2009 coup.

But many of the persons serving as publicists for corporatism are not duped or ignorant, but are knowing and willing participants in the scam. Case in point: Jon Lee Anderson, who writes for The New Yorker and whose work gets lots of praise from the group of Elite Media types Digby calls “the Villagers”. Anderson is a legend in his own mind, and he doesn’t like it when he’s called out, as happened recently on Twitter:

Jon Lee Anderson, a writer for a weekly magazine called the New Yorker, got angry on Twitter today. A reader with the Twitter name of Mitch Lake (@mlake9) had tweeted at Anderson (@jonleeanderson) to dispute a claim of fact in Anderson’s online story about the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Anderson had written that Chavez had left his country as “one of the world’s most oil-rich but socially unequal countries,” and Lake countered that in fact Venezuela was the second-least unequal country in the Americas.


There’s probably a useful conversation to be had about Jon Lee Anderson’s recent coverage of Venezuela and Chavez. His work is marked by weird internal stress points of fact, where the story he seems to be trying to tell about Chavez fails to align with the history of the country. In his January profile of Venezuela and its then-dying president, “Slumlord,” he described Chavez’s Caracas as a tragically fallen city, but located the “height of its allure” in 1983, or 16 years and six presidencies before Chavez ever took power. Likewise the Tower of David, the unfinished high-rise overrun by squatters that he presents as the monument to the Chavez era, was by Anderson’s own account aborted in 1993—still six years and a few presidencies before Chavez—during a collapse of the country’s banking system. Given the amounts of atavistic propaganda in American news coverage of Chavez, it felt as if Anderson hadn’t quite gotten himself clear on the question of how broken Venezuela really is, or to what extent that brokenness is Chavez’s work.

What gives Anderson’s motives away — and shows him for a deliberate liar rather than a sadly misled person — are his reactions upon being called out on his lies. Instead of acknowledging his errors, he attacks the person pointing them out, calling him a “little twerp” and acting as if one’s veracity was solely dependent on one’s number of Twitter followers.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Washington Consensus is upheld.


3 Responses to “New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson Caught Lying About Hugo Chavez, Is Apparently Proud Of It”

  1. Charles II said

    I read Anderson’s article and was completely underwhelmed. I can understand why people would support Chavez or oppose him, but the whole article is more like petty gossip:

    His death came after months in which his health was a national mystery, the subject of obfuscation and rumors

    Fidel Castro looked on and listened raptly as Chávez spoke …a number of observers present in the room commented on what appeared to be a major bromance between the two.

    Chávez’s cancer, a tumor described as the size of a baseball somewhere in his groin area…

    A warm and amiable showman…

    He was manic with newfound revolutionary fervor.

    He acknowledged that he had come to it [socialism] late, long after most of the world had abandoned it, but said that it had clicked for him after he had read Victor Hugo’s epic novel “Les Misérables.”

    I’m happy to grant a writer his style, but one reads the entire article to discover nothing about why Venezuelans elected him repeatedly, why millions turned out to see his body, why he was specifically so angry with the American government (here is where the Honduran experience is so central to understanding Chavez’ behavior)….

    This is what disinformation is: the stringing together of statements which may be true or, at least, impossible to refute to distract the reader from the real story. This country has a long history of journalists on the payroll of the government. It would be no surprise to learn that Jon Lee Anderson is one of them.

    Or maybe he’s just a twerp.

  2. Twerp works. Also, bitter, uninformed, biased, pretentious, sycophantic, and just plain wrong. Moron is probably a very accurate description.

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