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Manufacturing consent: How NY Times spins Bolivian coup against ‘coca-farming strongman’ Morales

Manufacturing consent: How NY Times spins Bolivian coup against ‘coca-farming strongman’ Morales
A military-assisted coup against a democratically elected president transforms into a dramatic rescue of democracy from military dictatorship by someone who got 4 percent of the vote, to hear the US paper of record tell the story.

President Evo Morales of Bolivia resigned on November 10, after losing the support of the military, after US-backed opposition violently protested the outcome of the election which showed him winning in the first round with a 10-percent lead over the closest challenger. Three days later, opposition senator Jeanine Añez declared herself “interim president.” Washington called it a “significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.”

In the New York Times narrative, however, Morales was a “strongman” – at least in the printed edition headline – and “a leftist who led with a single-minded pursuit of his vision for 14 years.”

Sunday’s story quotes Morales only once. Añez actually declined the interview request. Most of it is sourced from “five people in the meetings that decided the country’s future,” only some of whom are named – and none are from Morales’s MAS party, which has been shut out of governance even though it holds the legislative majority.

“As looting and violence escalated, Bolivia’s civilian leaders became increasingly worried that generals might take control to restore order, returning the country to its dark history of military dictatorships,” is how the Times summarizes their story, glossing over the military’s opposition to Morales and support for the unelected government.

Also on rt.com ‘Stop the massacre!’ Evo Morales appeals to Bolivian military as 5 killed in crackdown by ‘interim’ government (GRAPHIC)

The contrast between the Times’ description of Añez and Morales is telling as well. While acknowledging that Morales was Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, the paper also repeatedly smears his supporters, saying he fled the capital to “his stronghold in the coca farming region,” which is described as a “hide-out on a farm deep in tropical foothills pocketed with coca plots.” His supporters are “coca farmers,” and just so you don’t miss it, they live in the “coca region.”

Meanwhile, the admission that Añez is a senator “from a remote tropical region who had sat out October’s elections and was about to retire,” representing a party that got only four percent of the vote, is mentioned in passing midway through the story. Troublesome quotes from her past about indigenous Bolivians are reduced to Morales’s “claims” of stoking racial tensions.

By choosing what to mention and what to omit, using loaded words to describe people and events, and relying almost exclusively on the narrative of the people involved in ousting an elected president and installing an unelected one in his place, the Times story represents a study in what scholar Noam Chomsky described as “manufacturing consent.”

In the end, the New York Times readers are told, Bolivian statesmen sat down and agreed that Añez should be the new president in talks “brokered by officials with the Roman Catholic Church and the European Union.” So the Vatican and a transatlantic polity get a say in who runs Bolivia, but the majority of actual Bolivians don’t, and this is somehow celebrated as democracy.

By Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT

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