So, the Haitian earthquake has become the first big story of 2010.  The US media with all its powers and abilities is covering the story non-stop. Yet, in a truly breathtaking way that is unique, perhaps, to the US media, the story unfolding will be presented almost completely free from context.

I got a chance to watch Meet the Press this past Sunday, 01/17, and saw a brief segment (occurs at 28:20-29:00) purporting to show the history of US involvement in Haiti.  The high-tech graphic timeline begins with “1934, that’s when the US ends a nearly two decade occupation of Haiti”.  What the US was doing in Haiti in the first place is of course not mentioned.  The US sponsored 2004 coup and removal of Aristide is depicted as “US Marines land in Haiti to help restore order”.

Crooks and Liars, a liberal blog, is happy to point out a mainstream television news program, Fareed Zakaria’s GPS from 01/17/10, which depicts something slightly resembling historical context.  Zakaria presents the reason for Woodrow Wilson’s sending in the Marines as “some say that America simply wanted to protect its investments there.”  (It’s always funny when a TV journalist uses the lead-in “some say”.  It’s usually used to introduce a partisan point of view, but in this case it’s actually used to soften an already duplicitously benign viewpoint.)  Zakaria goes on to completely omit the 2004 US-sponsored coup.

The fact that this kind of historical amnesia can happen in a society that pretends it has a free press is stupefying.  But I won’t pretend it’s surprising; I’ve lived here for a while.  The corporations which own the networks which use the public airwaves have the same narrow interests as the ones they protect by omitting the history of Haiti from broadcasts.

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