The excellent web site Common Dreams brought up a topic about the Haitian tragedy that I hadn't thought about -- but it deserves a lot of thought from all of us. Do we really have a free and independent media? Or does our supposedly independent media only give us what the government wants us to hear -- especially about countries that are supposedly our "enemies"?
I am thankful for the internet, because many times our mainstream media only seems to see one side of a story (especially Fox News). Usually that point of view is rather middle-of-the-road. Almost never is a true left-wing viewpoint aired or written about. Although the right-wing would have us believe most of our media is "left-wing", that is simply not true. As a true left-winger, I can tell you that the "liberal" mainstream media are really timid middle-roaders.
It gets even worse when the media is writing about international affairs. They seem totally incapable of writing about another country except in terms of them being good (agreeing with American policy) or evil (opposing American policy). Take Cuba for instance. How many stories have you read in the mainstream media about the good that Cuba does? None. We only hear about how bad their leaders are (because they won't bend to our will).
Did you know that the first country to respond to the Haitian tragedy was Cuba? Immediately after the earthquake they sent a team of 30 doctors. And they did not have to send someone to evaluate the situation first. They just sent help.
But this was not covered by the mainstream media, except for two sources. The Christian Science Monitor wrote about the Cubans sending doctors (and their doctors are top-notch). The other source was Fox News who simply wondered why the Cubans weren't helping. In other words, they LIED so they could get in a shot at Cuba.
In addition to the 30 doctors they sent after the tragedy happened, Cuba already had 400 doctors in the country giving free health care to that poverty-stricken country (even though the Haitian government is pro-American). In fact, Cuba does more than any other country, including America, to help poor people all over the world receive quality medical care. But you would never know that by reading or watching the American media.
And did you know that when Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated New Orleans, Cuba was one of the first countries to offer aid? They were willing to send doctors and other types of aid, and you can bet it would have been there on the first day. But George Bush turned them down, even though he was doing nothing to help himself. It was more important to him to maintain the illusion of Cuba being our enemy, than it was to get help to the people of New Orleans -- many of whom died waiting on Bush to send help.
I don't know about you, but if I was in a disaster I would accept help from anyone who offered it, and I wouldn't care what their politics were. The middle of a disaster is a lousy time to be playing politics -- whether it's our government or our media.
By the way, Venezuela has also responded quickly with help for the Haitians. Has our media reported that? In fact, Hugo Chavez has been very generous about sending doctors, teachers and financial aid to many other Latin American countries. But all our media wants to report is that he is a "dictator", even though he was elected by a large majority of Venezuelans.
I think we used to have a free and independent media in this country, but today's corporate-owned media conglomerates are only interested in selling advertisements and passing on government and party public relations releases. Real news coverage of all sides of important questions would cost too much and eat into their huge profits -- and might anger one of their corporate sponsors.
I miss the days when the mainstream media brought us real news from all pertinent angles. If it were not for the internet, we'd get no news at all except for corporate-approved pablum.
NOTE -- The picture above is of a Cuban-trained Haitian doctor. In addition to the 400 Cuban doctors in Haiti, Cuba has, with their scholarship program, trained at least 544 Haitian doctors.