NACLA: The U.S. Media and the Crisis in Ecuador

Originally published at NACLA.org

(Note: a slightly modified version was published in the Nov/Dec print edition of Nacla Report on the Americas, in the Media Accuracy in Latin America (MALA) section. That version is available in print, and here (PDF).)

When Rudolfo Muñoz, a reporter working in Ecuador for CNN, resigned from the cable news channel in the immediate aftermath of the September 30 political crisis, not a single noteworthy U.S. news outlet—including CNN—bothered to report on his departure. Fittingly, Muñoz cited the media’s failure to report important information as his primary reason for quitting his job, telling the Latin American media outlet TeleSur that he quit the job because CNN had a “distinct slant” on the deadly police uprising in Ecuador and “acted as if nothing happened” despite “proof that [police forces] tried to kill the president.”

"That same night on Sept. 30 I determined that it was no longer in my interest to continue doing that sort of work,” he said.

While it is still unclear whether the violent events of September 30 constituted an attempted coup, as President Rafael Correa claimed, Muñoz’s critique raises questions about how the crisis was covered in the U.S. mainstream media.

The crisis in Ecuador came less than 18 months after the Honduran military successfully overthrew its democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya. If Ecuador’s police uprising was indeed a failed attempt at overthrowing the government, it would mark the fourth coup attempt on left-leaning Latin America leaders in less than a decade — since 2002. The three earlier coup attempts took place in Venzuela, Haiti, and Honduras. The uprising in Ecuador, if it constituted a coup, was the fourth.

Given the long history of U.S. intervention in the region, the crisis in Ecuador should warrant serious examination from the U.S. media. However, not only were relevant historic angles ignored, but, as Muñoz observed, several important events of that day were not seriously covered. The most prominent mainstream media outlets either ignored the incident, or treated it as if it occurred in a vacuum—offering no context about the long history of U.S. involvement in coup attempts in the Americas.

Read the rest, here.