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email to Geoffrey York of Globe & Mail RE Haiti

#1 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 19 January 2010 - 03:21 AM

RE: Exiled Aristide bidding to come home; January 16, 2010
Globe & Mail; Geoffrey York

Mr. York,

The narrative you produced in this article is poorly researched and
shields the US and Canadian governments from accountability for the criminal role
they have played in Haiti since 1990 when Aristide was first elected.

You wrote

"He was elected president in a landslide victory in 1990, but was
overthrown in a military coup in 1991."

This neglects to mention that the coup's perpetrators were on the CIA
payroll. Emmanuel Constant was protected from deportation to Haiti for years by
the Clinton Administration. In 1994, US troops seized thousands of
documents from the offices of FRAPH, the deaths squad founded by Constant, and
whisked them away to the US. The US refused to return the documents to Haiti
unless the names of US citizens were deleted. All of this was thoroughly
documented in Human Rights Watch reports from the period. Have you read any of

You wrote

"After years of exile in Venezuela and the United States, he was reinstated
to power in 1994 with the help of heavy pressure from the U.S. government,
including the deployment of 20,000 troops."

This also evades crucial facts. Human Rights Watch noted that the Clinton
Administration ensured that Haitian security forces remained thoroughly
penetrated by perpetrators of major crimes during the military regime. Those
whom the US did not keep in their jobs were airlifted into luxurious exile
like Raoul Cedras, whose home the US kindly leased for him. The US also
insisted that Aristide adopt economic policies favoured by the Haitian elite
that financed the 1991 coup..

You wrote

"He [Aristide] stepped down at the end of his term in 1996,
constitutionally barred from seeking a second consecutive term. "

It was far from clear that the Haitian constitution ended his term in 2006
since he was forcibly exiled for most of it. However, the Clinton
administration insisted that his years in exile count as years served in office.

You wrote

"In 2000, he won election again, but human-rights groups criticized his
campaign for using violence and intimidation. Opposition parties boycotted the
election and refused to recognize his victory. "

The human rights group that produced the bulk of these allegations, and
that still cited by international media, is RNDDH, formerly NCHR. It has been
shown to be completely unreliable. It's allegations against former Prime
Minsiter Yvon Neptune, did not stand up in Haitian courts even after those
courts were stacked against the accused following the 2004 coup. The same was
true for cases brought against prominent Aristide supporters such as So
Ann, Rene Civil and the late Father Gerard Jean Juste among hundreds of

These people suffered lengthy and very dangerous incarcerations and gross
violations of their rights at the hands of an unelected government staunchly
backed by the US and Canada. I strongly suggest you read Peter Hallward's
book, Damning the Flood, which thoroughly refutes the characterization of
Aristide that you have carelessly written in this article.

You wrote

"Over the next four years his government was plagued by protests against
human-rights abuses, corruption, economic woes and high unemployment. His
armed supporters were accused of attacking journalists and political

This fails to mention that the US spent 70 million dollars between 1994 and
2002 directly on strengthening Aristide's political opponents. The US
(joined by the EU and Canada) blocked hundreds of millions of aid from
Aristide's government. An unsuccessful coup attempt by far right paramilitaies took
place in 2001. Other deadly attacks on Aristide supporters took place
during his second term, but went largely unnoticed by the international press
and NGOs. In contrast, reprisals on Aristide's opponents were widely

"The anti-government protests intensified in 2004 and turned violent, and
Mr. Aristide was forced to flee the country. He later complained that he was
'kidnapped' and bundled onto a U.S. airplane by U.S. security agents. He
was flown to the Central African Republic and later to South Africa, where
the government gave him a villa in Pretoria."

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) , the African Union and the OAS all
called for an investigation of the circumstances under which Aristide left
Haiti. By your account, Aristide was the only one who "complained".

After Aristide was deposed his opponents went on a rampage that led to the
murder of thousands of Aristide supporters according to a study published
in the Lancet medical journal. If journalists like you start doing some
basic research you might finally hold the Canadian government accountable for
its crimes in Haiti.

Joe Emersberger

Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood

See _
HRW;November 1, 1991
(_ ( )
HRW; August 1994 (_
( )
HAITI: Security CompromisedRecycled Haitian Soldiers on the Police Front
Line _
_ (
( _
_ (
9/11/04/haiti1968.htm) _
On RNDDH (NCHR) see _

Athena R. Kolbe and Royce A. Hutson, "Human rights abuse and other criminal
violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households," The
Lancet, Vol. 368, No. 9538, September 2, 2006,

#2 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:00 PM


Dear Mr. Emersberger --
Thank you for your email. I think, however, that you're not fully aware of the constraints of a 500-word news article. Most of my article was about Mr. Aristide's comments in Johannesburg last week, leaving only a couple of hundred words to explain the history. I would have loved to be given a 2000-word article to go into detail about Haiti's history, but we only had room for a few hundred words about Mr. Aristide in this particular article. You don't seem to appreciate that our newspaper is primarily covering the earthquake, not the details of Haitian history. Therefore it is inevitable that there isn't room for all of the details. This is not a conspiracy, this is just what happens when anyone compresses history into a few short paragraphs.
To attack my article as "poorly researched" or deliberately "shielding" governments from accountability is ridiculous. Anyone who is limited to such a short article is going to be unable to put all the facts into the article. If a newspaper article does not include all of your favorite facts or details, it doesn't mean that the author is ignorant or conspiratorial. Have you read any of my books about Canadian aboriginal issues, or my coverage of human rights issues in China, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, or many other parts of the world? Do I sound like someone who would "shield" a government or be uninterested in human rights issues? Please, it's an absurd accusation.
You also seem to deliberately misread my article. Nothing in my article said that Mr. Aristide was the ONLY person who accused the United States of "kidnapping" him in 2004, yet you unfairly claim that the article portrays him as the only one to make that accusation.
Finally, while you extensively quote from HRW reports up to the year 2001, you don't seem to quote any of their reports from 2002, 2003 or 2004. These reports document many human rights abuses by the government and supporters of Mr. Aristide, yet you criticize me for mentioning the human rights violations of those years. This makes you appear partisan, rather than independent.
Best regards,
Geoffrey York


Mr. York.
You could very briefly have written that the US consistently worked to undermine Aristide's elected government since he was first elected in 1990. You could briefly have mentioned that both Canada and the US backed an aid embargo against his government and the coup that ousted him in 2004 and the widespread and well documented human rights abuses that followed. instead, you wrote the standard corporate media narrative that has shielded both the US and Canadian governments from accountability.

History is extremely relevant to the situation in Haiti today as BIll Quigley explains below much better than I could. It simply doesn't wash for reporters to cite brevity as an excuse for avoiding it - or condensing it in a way that is favourable to the US and Canada.. You (collectively) have had years to unearth the facts and have not done so. See

I forwarded you , in my original note, analyses of how both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported on the Haiti since the coup. Hope you take look at it. Basically HRW performed much worse than AI because they continued to rely on RNDDH (aka NCHR) which was a CIDA funded outfit and did so long after it was clear that they were not reliable. .

Hopefully your concern for human rights will prompt you not to uncritically regurgitate the Canadian government's preferred version of recent Haitian history in future - for the sake of brevity or anything else.

Joe Emersberger


Dear Mr. Ermsberger --
You continue to ignore my basic question: why do you repeatedly cite HRW reports before 2001 as proof for your agenda, but you dismiss all the HRW reports after 2001 which contradict your agenda? Your original message to me was filled with quotes from HRW reports from before 2001. But as soon as HRW began to undermine your preferred narrative, you quickly declare that HRW is biased. Basically you want all journalists to adhere to your pro-Aristide narrative. If any journalist points out the human rights abuses of the Aristide government from 2001 to 2004, you dismiss the evidence from HRW and accuse us of being "corporate" journalists. Do you not see that your narrative and your agenda is more fixed and simplistic than mine? No corporation has ever dictated to me what to write. I am proud to have written articles about human rights for the past 28 years, in dozens of countries around the world, often at considerable risk to my own safety and health, and no agenda or narrative has ever been imposed on me.
Best regards,
Geoffrey York


Mr. York:

I cited HRW extensively about the 1991 coup because they said a great deal about it - and you ignored it in your article in order to achieve "brevity" by omiiting facts that expose the criminal role the US has played in Haiti since 1990..

In the first two years after the 1991 coup HRW's reports dedicated roughly 50,000 words to the situation in Haiti. That does not include a 136 page book they published during that period entitled "Silencing a People: The Destruction of Civil Society in Haiti". But two years after the 2004 coup HRW had allotted a trifling 9000 words to Haiti - less then had been written in the first two months after the coup of 1991. [7]

Unlike Amnesty who (belatedly) did speak up against obvious miscarriages of justice after 2004 - such as the cases of Yvon, Neptune, So Ann and the late Father Jean Juste (whom AI designated as a prisoner of conscience) and, much more recently, Ronald Dauphin; HRW never wrote a word about any of them. Nor has HRW ever explained their silence to anyone who called or telephoned them asking about it. They certainly never replied to my calls or emails since 2004 and if they did to anyone else it has been a well kept secret. How do you account for their silence about such flagrant human rights violations - assuming you are aware of them?

HRW's about face is explained by their reliance on RNDDH (formerly NCHR) , a CIDA (Canadian Development Agency) funded group that also did an about face by the time of Aristide's second term. Again, the US spent 70 million dollars between 1994 and 2002 directly on strengthening Aristide's political opponents. Over these years many of Aristide's allies among the better educated, like the director of RNDDH, became bitter enemies. Often their resentment stemmed from being passed over by Aristide for jobs or political endorsement. By 2000 most had joined a coalition with the far right (known as Democratic Convergence) which was cobbled together with US money.

Peter Hallward examined Amnesty International and press reports during Aristide's second government. He found that "reports covering the years 2000-03 attribute a total of around 20 to 30 killings to the police and supporters of the FL [Famni Lavalas -Aristide's party]..... at least 20 police officers or FL [Aristide] supporters were killed by army veterans in 2001, and another 25 in further paramilitary attacks in 2003," [11] In short, the crimes of Aristide's supporters were immediately dwarfed by the regime that replaced him in 2004 - something easily predicted by referring to HRW's and AI's research during the 1990's.

I doubt you will turn up anything much different from Hallward by scouring HRW's reports during the period 2000-2003, though you may well find less mention of the crimes committed by Aristide opponents during that period. .

Again, the worst allegations against Aristide's supporters have not stood up in Haitian courts that were stacked against them -something you could easily verify by doing some reading about those cases. Those cases greatly undermine the credibility of RNDDH whom HRW has relied on long after their lack of credibility should have been obvious.

I hope you consider the health and safety of Haitians in future articles and do more research. Haiti's vulnerability to disasters of all types is the result of criminal polices that you and I are partly responsible for as Canadian citizens.

Joe Emersberger


#3 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:04 PM


Dear Mr. Emersberger --

If you believe that 9,000 words from HRW is merely "trifling", then it's obvious that you'll never be satisfied with anyone's writing about Haiti, except your own.

I'm glad that you are finally acknowledging that Aristide's supporters have also committed crimes -- something that you ignored in all of your previous emails to me. But you seem to be defending those crimes by saying that they are "dwarfed" by those of the next regime. What kind of defence is that? Crimes are crimes, regardless of what another regime does. Would you defend the US military actions in Afghanistan because they are "dwarfed" by the US actions in Iraq? You can't morally justify a crime by saying that it is smaller than someone else's crime.

If you never received a reply from HRW to your emails after 2004, quite possibly it is because your emails had the same tone of sarcastic superiority and sweeping condemnation that you adopted in your emails to me. It's really hard to foster discussion or awareness with the sarcastic tone that you seem to prefer.

You're obviously very knowledgeable about Haiti, and I have no doubt that there's a lot of truth in many of your observations about Canadian and US policies in Haiti. I think you could have a lot of influence on the "corporate media" if you began with a less hostile attitude. But if you'd like to build awareness, you shouldn't alienate your potential supporters with such an arrogant and smug tone.

From your other writings, I know that you see the "corporate media" as a faceless monolith of pro-government thinking. If you were a little more open-minded, you'd discover that your generalizations about the media are simplistic. If I was covering Haiti (instead of Africa, my current beat), I would be very open to writing about the mistakes in US and Canadian policies toward Haiti. I find it insulting for you to assume otherwise.

I apologize for misspelling your name in my last email.

Best regards,
Geoffrey York


Mr. York:

HRW wrote 9000 words in the two year period following the 2004 coup. That
was period in which large scale human rights abuses were taking place -
thousands of Aristide supporters murdered according to a study published in
the Lancet medical journal and hundreds (by conservative estimates) of
political prisoners filled Haitian jails. It was a human rights disaster of
similar magnitude to the 1991 coup. Nine thousand words in 2 years is "trifling"
when you consider that HRW wrote more than that in 2 months after the coup
in 1991. It was also trifling compared to the over 22,000 words of
criticism that HRW directed towards the Venezuela's government in the 2004-2006
period. Its priorities have been indefensible. You think my tone explains
their unwillingness to reply? Why don't you politely ask them the 5 questions I
posed to them in the following essay? See what happens.

If "crimes are crimes", as you say, then your article should have
mentioned the human right abuses that followed Aristide's ouster, AND the crimes
committed by his opponents while he was in office. You didn't.

If your information about Haiti comes from the corporate media then that
explains the omissions.

Moreover, the scale of the crimes committed by Aristide supporters, and
the events that provoked them, is extremely important. Countless news reports
have depicted Aristide as a despot who maintained control through
violence. That view is not supported by the evidence. No government's record is
unblemished, especially when faced with a very real threat of being violently
overthrown, but despite that threat (a coup attempt was thwarted in 2001),
and the assassination of Aristide supporters and other provocations, the
government did not rule through violence and intimidation.
The consequences of how Aristide's supporters have been demonized for
years by the media is being felt today as the US militarizes its relief effort.
With Canada's help, the US has inflicted even more damage on Haiti under
the cover of disaster relief, and is poised to inflict much more.

See Peter Hallward's essay on this

If not for the way the corporate media has reported about Haiti for years,
it would be extremely difficult for the US and Canada to use the disaster
in this way.

As for my tone, I try to be as honest and polite as I can. However, there
is no way to sugar coat the truth about what corporate media have
contributed to in Haiti. To anyone who cares about human rights the facts should
matter, not the tone used in pointing them out.

Joe Emersberger


#4 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 25 January 2010 - 02:15 AM


Mr. Emersberger --
Your definition of politeness is a peculiar one. You insult people's integrity, and then you claim it is "just the facts."
It's very clear that your paranoia and conspiracy theories are still getting the better of you. No matter what I say, you're always going to believe that I am part of some conspiracy by the "corporate media." If you had any experience at all with the inside of the media industry, you would learn that this is completely absurd. Nobody tells me what to write. As a foreign correspondent for Canada's leading newspaper for the past 16 years, I have never once been censored by my bosses, and I have never been told to follow some pro-government agenda. I have complete freedom to write whatever I want. Why don't you bother to look at what I've written about Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Russia, Africa and many other countries and issues? Look at the many articles that I've written about the failures of Canadian and American policies in Kandahar, Iraq, the former Soviet Union, etc, etc. The notion that the "corporate media" are somehow protecting the government is so ridiculous that I don't see any point in debating it, since your mind is so closed on the subject.

Your points about HRW are still unpersuasive. At this point, you're reduced to arguing that the difference between 9,000 words and 22,000 words is so crucial that it is proof of HRW's anti-Aristide agenda. Is there really such a massive difference between 9,000 words and 22,000 words? You can keep counting words as long as you want, but I don't think it proves any conspiracy or plot.

Your points about my 600-word article are equally unpersuasive. You're mainly complaining about the information that I didn't include in my article. It was a short article about Aristide's latest comments in Johannesburg, plus a few short sentences of background information about his political career. Yet you feel that I MUST include information about the crimes and abuses of OTHER people, not Aristide. It's like saying that anyone who writes about Obama must include material about the sins of Bush, or else it is proof of bias. It's like saying that nobody can write an article criticizing Jean Chretien unless they also include criticism of Stephen Harper. You're basically trying to impose your own opinions on every newspaper article, insisting that everything must comply fully with your own beliefs or else it is useless.

Your other point is this: "Countless news reports have depicted Aristide as a despot who maintained control through violence." Again, you are exaggerating and unfairly attacking everyone with the same brush. There was absolutely nothing in my article that called Aristide a "despot" who "maintained control through violence." That is absolutely not what I said, and it is unfair of you to misquote me. If you want to criticize fairly, please don't misquote what I wrote. Don't attack me for something that I manifestly did not write.
Best regards,
Geoffrey York


Mr. York:
I never said anything about your integrity. I don't know you and have no basis for judging it.
It looks to me like you researched your article by using corporate media press reports. If so, then it is very unsurprising that it led you to write an account of Aristide's second term that whitewashed the criminal role of Canada and the US. I obviously did not quote you as having written that Aristide was a "despot who maintained control through violence" - though your article, through its omissions, contributes to the ongoing demonization. I looked at how the Canadian press has reported on Haiti since 2004 in the following essay

You continue to miss the point about HRW. You really don't see that producing more than twice as much criticism of Venezuela's government than Haiti's between 2004-2006 is inexcusable? By 2008, HRW had produced 20 times more criticism of Venezuelan than of Haiti.[1] Perhaps you can suggest answers to the following questions, some of which I have put to HRW for years (or perhaps you can get HRW to answer them).

1) When a coup deposed Chavez for 2 days in 2002, why did HRW's public statements fail to do obvious things like denounce the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and (especially since HRW is based in Washington) call for an investigation of US involvement?

2) Very similarly, when a coup deposed Haiti's democratically elected government in 2004, why didn't HRW condemn the coup, call on other countries not to recognize the regime, invoke the OAS charter, and call for an investigation of the US role? Many of these things were done by the community of Caribbean nations (CARICOM). A third of the UN General Assembly called for an investigation into the overthrow of Aristide. Why didn't HRW back them up?

3) Since 2004, why has HRW written about 20 times more about Venezuela than about Haiti despite the fact that the coup in Haiti created a human rights catastrophe in which thousands of political murders were perpetrated and the jails filled with political prisoners? Haiti's judiciary remains stacked with holdovers from the coup installed regime. The lingering impact of the coup is revealed by a recent ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in favor of Yvon Neptune. Haiti has ignored the IACHR order that it dismiss the case against Neptune (this was finally done in September of 2009) and pay damages for his illegal two year imprisonment. [3] HRW has not publicly urged the Haitian government to obey the ruling, nor has it applied any public pressure on the government to investigate the disappearance of Lovinsky Pierre Antoine, a leading human rights activist.[

4) Why did HRW never write a word in support of Father Gerard Jean-Juste, Haiti's most prominent political prisoner after the coup? Even after Amnesty International named him a "prisoner of conscience" and participated in an international campaign to have him released to receive treatment for cancer, HRW said absolutely nothing. Instead HRW has repeatedly objected to law suits brought against Venezuelan "civil society" leaders like Maria Corina Machado, who has never been jailed despite signing the infamous Carmon decree which briefly abolished Venezuelan democracy.

5) Why hasn't HRW called for a full disclosure of US funding of the opposition in Bolivia given the murders recently perpetrated in Pando by anti-government groups? HRW has called on the OAS to investigate the Colombian government's allegations that the Chavez assists the FARC. In contrast, HRW has not urged the US government to cooperate with the Freedom of Information Act requests made by Jeremy Bigwood regarding US activity Bolivia.

As for the corporate media, there are some journalists within it who have tried to provide accurate historical context for Haiti or deviate from the pack who have shamefully hyped "insecurity".

See the work of Andrew Buncombe and Andy Kersaw in the UK Independent

However, the corporate media ensures that such work remains very rare. No, I don't think we can trust the corporate media to tell the truth about a world dominated by corporations. You call that "conspiracy theory". I call it common sense. Personally, I doubt very many reporters are liars or are strong armed into writing a certain way. Quite sadly, they don't need to be.

Joe Emersberger

[1] The discrepancy increased drastically in 2008 when HRW produced a very long and poorly done assessment of the Chavez government's record since 1998.

#5 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 25 January 2010 - 08:42 PM


Mr. Emersberger --
You began by sending me a message filled with approving quotes from HRW. By the end of the exchange, you are attacking HRW for deliberating concealing the truth. No inconsistency there?
You claim that you're not questioning my integrity. Yet you imply that I am a naive fool who writes propaganda in favor of big corporations. I could send you a hundred articles that I've written about corporate corruption and wrongdoing, including investigative articles that would never have been exposed if I hadn't written them, but you wouldn't change your opinion. You ignore my track record on Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and China because you can't be bothered to understand a journalist's work.
You deny that you're calling me a liar, but you accuse me of writing lies. Apparently you don't understand the plain meaning of the English language.
You claim that the corporate media is endlessly describing Aristide a "despot." When I point out that I never called him any such thing, and never even implied any such thing, you don't see any inconsistency.
You claim that you're not questioning my integrity, yet you accuse me of "whitewashing" the criminal conduct of Canada and the United States. If you think this is not a personal attack on me, I'm not even sure whether you understand the meaning of the words you are using.
You claim that you're not questioning my integrity, yet you also claim that only a tiny percentage of "corporate" journalists have ever written the truth. No inconsistency there?
With your great expertise on the "corporate" media, would you care to look at the body of my work and explain why you think it is merely corporate propaganda? Or even provide one example? (Omissions in a 600-word article don't count. I could analyze anything that you've written on your CMM blog and attack it for "omitting" any number of things. No article can be completely comprehensive, and it would be unfair of me to expect everything you write to contain the whole universe of complete facts on every subject, yet you use this same unfair approach to attack others.)
You attack HRW and the mainstream media, and then you wonder why you are sitting in splendid isolation with nobody supporting you. You alienate your most likely supporters and then wallow in solitude. Still, I suppose it suits you to have a belief that you are superior to 99 per cent of the rest of the world, presumably the only person to understand the truth. Good luck with that approach.
Best regards,
Geoff York


#6 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 26 January 2010 - 02:33 AM


Mr. York:

You appear more concerned with whether or not I’ve insulted you and your “body of work” than with what has happened in Haiti. I said nothing about your body of work. I’m not familiar with it, and much less with you personally. I am quite familiar with the body of work that the Canadian press has produced about Haiti since 2004 and it’s disgraceful. Anyone who relies on it for background on Haiti will, regardless of their intentions, produce a whitewash of Canada’s criminal policies.

As I already explained, HRW did a great deal of detailed work about the 1991 coup. That is why I cited them. After the 2004 coup, they wrote very little, basically ignored their own research from the 1990s, and did not speak out against egregious human rights abuses in Haiti even after Amnesty and others did so. If there is inconsistency, it is in the way HRW responded to two very bloody coups.

I've written about HRW’s track record in Haiti since 2004 here

and about Amnesty’s here

The following articles discuss the very illuminating cases of Yvon Neptune and Ronald Dauphin

Regardless how "arrogant","smug", "sarcastic, " think I am, you should check out the sources that I cite in the articles above. For much more information see the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN)

Please look beyond the corporate press for information if you write again about Haiti. Canada is poised to do even more damage to Haiti under the cover of disaster relief.

Joe Emersberger

#7 Guest_Emersberger_*

  • Group: Guests

Posted 27 January 2010 - 01:19 AM


Mr. Emersberger --
Thank you for all the information that you have sent to me. I'm open-minded enough to keep a record of it, in case I write again about Haiti.

But a word of advice: you'll never get anyone to listen to you if you attack them in the terms that you have attacked me. You seem to think that your insulting tone is irrelevant, and that I should just accept everything you say, regardless of your sneering tone, simply because Haiti is important. Yes, Haiti is important, and that's why I am still communicating with you. But you have a lot to learn about awareness-building. Nobody educates anyone if they begin by insulting them. If a teacher spoke to his students in the manner that you spoke to me, attacking them with words like "disgraceful" and "whitewash" and "propaganda", the students would simply walk out of the classroom, and the teacher would be a total failure.

There's another important point. You lose credibility for your main arguments about Haiti when you go beyond Haiti and start making sweeping statements about the media. Having worked in the media for nearly 30 years, having witnessed news in dozens of countries around the world and having studied the media coverage of those same news events, I know that you are factually wrong in your generalizations about the media. If you make such basic errors in your comments about the media, why should I believe you about Haiti? Why should I trust your accuracy about Haiti when your statements about the media are simply false?

By way of analogy: I understand that you are a member of the Canadian Auto Workers union. I have never been an autoworker myself. How would you react if I sent you an email, saying that cars built in Canada are "disgraceful" and therefore 99 per cent of autoworkers are foolish idiots? Would you accept my generalizations about autoworkers, even though I've never worked inside an auto factory? I would hope not.

Another example: after all of our email exchanges, you don't seem to be aware that I'm based in Johannesburg and I don't cover Haiti. I cover sub-Saharan Africa. That's my beat. (Following seven years in Beijing and seven years in Moscow.) Because you don't seem aware of this, it's obvious that you don't read The Globe and Mail and you don't know anything about the people who work for it. Yet you make sweeping statements about the media, condemning all of us, without knowing the simplest facts about it.

Another example: you seem to believe that bloggers and activists are more "truthful" than the corporate media. I've sometimes investigated reports that are made by independent bloggers and found them filled with factual errors. Of course there are often errors in the "corporate" media too, but in general I've found them more professional, more accurate, and more balanced than the kinds of rubbish that is often produced by bloggers. To revere bloggers and condemn the mainstream media is simply absurd and illogical. There are good reports in all media, and bad reports too. It's like anything -- you have to pore through it all to find the truth, without bias about source, without condemning people in advance.

One more point: I have been reading HRW reports for decades, and I've usually had the opportunity to compare them to Amnesty International reports on the same subject. In my experience, including hundreds of cases where I have first-hand knowledge of the subjects that both are writing about, HRW reports are much more detailed, accurate, credible and well-researched than anything written by Amnesty. I have no particular bias on this issue -- I have no axe to grind, no connection to either organization. But in my experience, HRW is the most credible and accurate and comprehensive of the main international human-rights NGOs. Your allegation of systematic bias at HRW is simply not credible to me, when I compare it to the reality of everything I have seen and read in HRW's investigations.

I think we will just have to agree to disagree on these points, because you have not convinced me at all.

On the question of Haiti, I do not reject what you say about Canada and the United States and their policies. It may be true. I'm perfectly willing to check into it, and I will add it to the store of potential sources about Haiti.

But on the question of the media, please don't just mindlessly regurgitate Noam Chomsky. Try to consider the subject more independently.

Best regards,
Geoff York

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