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Kiriakou writes: "If I told you that NPR, National Public Radio, was fronting propaganda operations for Donald Trump and John Bolton, would you call me crazy? If I said that NPR was just another voice for an imperial media, would you believe me? That's the situation we find ourselves in on Venezuela."

John Bolton. (photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images/JTA)
John Bolton. (photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images/JTA)

Why Is NPR Carrying Water for Trump on Venezuela?

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

11 June 19


f I told you that NPR, National Public Radio, was fronting propaganda operations for Donald Trump and John Bolton, would you call me crazy? If I said that NPR was just another voice for an imperial media, would you believe me? That’s the situation we find ourselves in on Venezuela.

NPR, like every other major US media outlet, is towing Donald Trump’s line, perpetuating propaganda, half-truths, and outright lies in furtherance of an expansionist foreign policy. And it’s not just NPR. Most of the mainstream media just touts the government line without doing any background research to get the story straight. It’s a problem that is getting worse.

As an example, take a look at this article from NPR. It’s innocuously entitled, “After Four Months, Venezuela’s Border with Colombia Reopens.” It’s common knowledge that the economic situation in Venezuela is dire. The country suffers from hyperinflation and a lack of medicine and basic foodstuffs. Crime is rampant. But what the article never mentions is that many of Venezuela’s economic problems stem from crippling US and international economic sanctions that have blocked the export of Venezuelan oil and the import of those same medicines and foodstuffs that the country so desperately needs. I’m actually willing to give NPR a pass on that, at least for the sake of argument. Perhaps an editor took that pertinent information out of the article. Perhaps it was a space issue. But things quickly worsen.

In the article’s third paragraph, NPR nakedly chooses a side. The reporter writes, “In a tweet announcing the move, Venezuela’s authoritarian president, Nicolas Maduro, ordered the reopening of the border with Colombia on Friday and said in Spanish, “We are a people of peace who firmly defend our independence and self-determination.”

Who is it that made the determination that Maduro is an “authoritarian?” Whether we like his politics or not, the man is the democratically-elected president of Venezuela. The opposition did not contest the last election. They boycotted it. That’s on them, not on Maduro. In fact, it was the White House that insisted that the opposition boycott the election just so that it could later accuse Maduro of being an illegitimate leader. NPR and others have fallen right in line.

The article’s very next sentence promotes the blind expansionism and imperialism that National Security Advisor John Bolton is famous for. It says, “The border with Colombia was closed earlier this year in an attempt by Maduro’s government to block opposition and humanitarian groups from delivering foreign aid to Venezuelans in need.” The problem there is that there were no “humanitarian groups” delivering food to Venezuelans.

Here’s what happened. The US and the European Union cut off food deliveries to Venezuela as a way to squeeze Maduro. When he didn’t resign and flee to Cuba, which is what Western leaders wanted to happen, the White House ordered a cut-off of food imports. The only way for Venezuelans to get food, then, was to have the US provide it — and the “opposition” ship it — across the border from Colombia. But the US and the opposition used the open border to also smuggle arms to supporters of US puppet Juan Gauido to help overthrow the Venezuelan government. I would have closed the border, too. But NPR doesn’t tell you any of that.

In only the fifth paragraph of the article, the author introduces Juan Guaido. Guaido is a nobody whom John Bolton decided should be the new president of Venezuela. NPR, with a completely straight face, says, “Maduro is in a power struggle with opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly who declared himself Venezuela’s president in January. Guaido has been recognized as Venezuela’s rightful head of state by more than 50 countries, including the United States.”

This paragraph is an outrage. Maduro and Guaido are not “in a power struggle.” Guaido was chosen by the Trump White House to be the fact of the US coup in Venezuela. He’s a traitor who has taken up arms against his own country on behalf of a foreign power, the United States.

Imagine for a moment that a foreign country that didn’t like a US president decided that the Speaker of the House or the President pro tempore of the Senate or some other politician should be the “rightful head of state.” Since when is it up to the US to decide who the rightful head of state of Venezuela is? Shouldn’t that be up to the Venezuelan voters? Imagine if the Russians decided that some schmo they happen to like should be President of the United States. They strong-arm 50 countries into recognizing the schmo, and then they send “humanitarian aid” and arms to the border. That’s an act of war, plain and simple. I can easily imagine every American taking up arms to defend the country.

NPR and other mainstream outlets should be ashamed of themselves. They toe the (illegal) official line just like the compliant propaganda outlets they have become. There’s no end in sight.

Remember, and forgive me if I sound like a broken record, the White House’s actions in Venezuela are a violation of international law. This is a coup attempt. It’s a crime. I’m not a Nicolas Maduro fan-boy. But it’s none of our business who leads a foreign country, especially when his or her people hold an election. This intervention is just plain wrong. Hands off Venezuela. And every other country.

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John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

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+15 # DongiC 2019-06-11 14:08
But, how can America become an empire if it doesn't throw its weight around? And, what are the military for, if not to conquer many nations and make us all safe and wealthy? We got the troops (and the ships, and planes and bombs) let's use them. After all, we already have the emperor, Donald Maximus Trump. May he reign forever!
+5 # rivervalley 2019-06-11 17:34
But he reigns toxic radiation! I could have written the same things, but it would have been very much tongue in cheek which is what I take yours to be.
+10 # elizabethblock 2019-06-11 18:12
As an old friend of mine once said, what's the point of having power if you don't abuse it?
+7 # AldoJay69 2019-06-12 06:37
If the U.S. would meddle in Venezuela's affairs, don't you think we would have done the same in other South and Central American countries?!

Oh, wait...

-6 # chapdrum 2019-06-11 16:13
NPR = National Plague (as in Republicans) Radio.
-1 # ktony 2019-06-12 05:39
Quoting chapdrum:
NPR = National Plague (as in Republicans) Radio.

Neocon Propaganda Radio
National Petroleum Radio
+22 # 1dfnslblty 2019-06-11 16:33
“...the White House’s actions in Venezuela are a violation of international law. This is a coup attempt. It’s a crime. I’m not a Nicolas Maduro fan-boy. But it’s none of our business who leads a foreign country, especially when his or her people hold an election. This intervention is just plain wrong. Hands off Venezuela. And every other country.”
usa imperialism in its death throws- dragging everyone and thing down with him.
Protest Loudly!
-6 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-11 17:11
I don't think NPR is carrying water for Trump. It is doing what all government propaganda media are doing -- praising Trump when he follows the order of the neo-cons and the American empire and condemning him when he shows any sign of independence.

NPR, PBS and their parent company, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting were specifically created by the State Department's US Information Agency, the massive propaganda agency that directs propaganda outward to other nations, as an internal media aimed at the college educated middle class. Up until the last few years, all presidents of NPR had come from USIA or Voice of America.

NPR is sophisticated in its thought control techniques. It uses voice actors instead of journalists to read the news. Listeners make friends with these unusual and quaint voices just as children would. The stories are written in ways that infantilize listeners. NPR gives middle class white americans a chance to be children as they take in the America First agenda.

Kiriakou is right for raking NPR over the coals. It is the most insidious and odious of all the propaganda media. That's partly because it is talking to children and can lecture like a scolding mother.
-2 # davehaze 2019-06-16 00:39
RR. Why??? do your reasonable, insightful, entertaining thoughts and fact-based opinions always elicit negative thumbs-down reactions? What you said regarding NPR PBS is known to anyone who has followed NPRPBS since Reagan set about dismantling its legitatitesy in the eighties.

Why does the news programs and opinions suck? Because the money to run the infrastructure is raised by the listners (the public), while the programs - and the content - money comes from corporations and foundations (private)

Some of the most reactionary things I've heard comes from NPRPBS.

Hey folks, keep those thumbs-down coming. Renews my faith in the power of propaganda.
0 # No Go 2019-06-11 17:23
Kiriiakou says, "Who is it that made the determination that Maduro is an “authoritarian? ” Whether we like his politics or not, the man is the democratically- elected president of Venezuela.
Maduro it walks like a duck and quaks like a duck there is a high probability that it is a duck.

One can equally safely refer to Donald "Agent Orange" Trump as "authoritarian" , and be as accurate in that characterizatio n of Trump as one would be of the characterizatio n of Maduro as "authoritarian".

The rest of Kiriakou's assertions are open for discussion, but the characterizatio n of Maduro AND Trump as "authoritarian" seems pretty cut and dried.
+9 # apotem 2019-06-11 18:07
I am a faithful listener of NPR, but covering Venezuela shows tremendous bias. I wonder why that total lack of objectivity.
+7 # lfeuille 2019-06-11 21:13
The question is is it merely ignorance or are they purposely spreading propaganda. I doubt their reporters actually know anything about Venezuela and are just repeating the government line. They should be sending people there to get the whole picture.
+5 # joyster 2019-06-12 09:43
Quoting apotem:
I am a faithful listener of NPR, but covering Venezuela shows tremendous bias. I wonder why that total lack of objectivity.

I agree - except for one story I heard from Tanzina Vega on the Takaway (which us one of my favorite pgms) about a months or two ago. I actually wrote an email to them tanking then for giving both dudes if the story ...
+7 # Texas Aggie 2019-06-12 09:57
Something that hasn't been mentioned is that one of NPR's biggest sources of income, if not THE biggest source, is the Koch machine, which functions on oil. Venezuela has oceans of oil.

The connection between those facts is left as an exercise for the student.
+30 # WBoardman 2019-06-11 18:51
A quick review of the Nuremberg Principles,
once honored at least in principle by the US,
will show that numerous Trump administration officials
(and others)
are already committing war crimes by planning
an illegal war on Venezuela,
most obviously in loose talk of a naval blockade.

US punishment of the Venezuelan people
through economic warfare and embargo
is almost surely a crime against humanity
as defined by Nuremberg.
+11 # economagic 2019-06-11 20:08
"Why Is NPR Carrying Water for Trump on Venezuela?"

Because NPR has been a Mainstream Medium since its funding was reduced in the early 1990s thanks in part to the efforts of Lynn Cheney and Jesse Helms.

I won't dispute RR's story of their origin, but in their early years they were a refreshing alternative to the MSM. But when direct federal funding decreased in the 1990s, instead of pleading their case with their listeners and supporters and perhaps scaling back a little to preserve their independence, they chose to accept corporate funding.

That brief account is not the whole story and it may not be entirely accurate, but the bottom line is that at about that time NPR and CPB both became beholden not only to the federal government, under constant attacks by the vandals and philistines, but also to corporations which insisted upon having no content that might have informed the public about what they were actually doing.
+4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-12 05:22
econ -- "I won't dispute RR's story of their origin, but in their early years they were a refreshing alternative to the MSM. "

The source of my comment on the founding of NPR, PBS, and CPB is Chomsky. He wrote just what you said. The USIA realized that TV and radio news were drifting too far into trivia to appeal to the more serious college educated and upwardly mobile people. The short format of TV news did not satisfy them. NPR or PBS would spend much longer on stories. USIA believed that these people needed to be reached.

Chomsky was more or less officially banned from NPR and PBS. Same with a lot of other people who ask listeners/viewe rs to think critically about world events.
+12 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-06-11 20:28
'But it’s none of our business who leads a foreign country....'
There appear to be those who think (if that is the right arm) far otherwise cf.:
US election meddling extends to Britain
In a recording leaked to the Washington Post, Pompeo assured a group of Jewish leaders in Britain yesterday that the U.S. government would “push back” against Corbyn becoming prime minister.
Dave Lindorff / This Can't Be Happening! / Op-Ed
June 11, 2019
+16 # AMaxwell 2019-06-11 20:41
Could it be that this regime change being orchestrated by the USA is just about Oil?
Little socialised countries like Venezuela (and Cuba) are no threat to the US, who imposes sanctions for decades to try and break them.
Bolton may not recognise the International Criminal Court, but it was deemed necessary and created to deal with people like him, Cheney, Dubbya, Blair who engineer regime changes to steal oil (and other resources). Even more despicable in the age of anthropogenic climate change.
+7 # lfeuille 2019-06-11 21:15
I think it is also about socialism. They have seen how popular it has become in the US and are scared for their continuing profits.
+7 # ktony 2019-06-12 05:35
I wrote the following Tuesday afternoon after hearing the All Things Considered hit job. This morning, I see Kiriakou saying the same thing in greater detail. I can't say that I am pleased given the horrific situation.
"I am disgusted and outraged that NPR is parroting the Bolton, Abrams, Pompeo propaganda regarding Venezuela. That NPR should be the mouthpiece of these notorious Regime Changers is shameful. Do a little research on your own. You are obviously only talking to organizations who are backing the self-declared "government" of Juan Guaido. He was an unknown, groomed by the CIA, until he "elected" himself president. Where is your concern for democracy and self-determinat ion? You have obviously forgotten the long and odious history of US-fomented coups in Latin America and around the world.

Get some backbone and look beyond US propaganda. I used to think that NPR provided at least some alternative views of the news, but no more. You are just another war mongering “newsatainment” operation like MSNBC.
With utter contempt,"
-3 # kath 2019-06-12 07:08
Of course I believe you about NPR. They are Hillary "Democrats" to a man...and woman.
+8 # Caliban 2019-06-14 10:07
Hello # kath --

I expect you are correct about NPR staff politics, but I find that even a small amount of factual evidence makes broad generalizations like this more convincing.
-1 # HDSMTS 2019-06-12 07:24
Thank you. I've been wondering about that myself and simply yelling at the radio or snapping it off. They seem to genuinely believe the propaganda they are helping to perpetuate.
+6 # michaelpnc 2019-06-12 07:58
NPR's Public Editor defended their coverage April 19th:

Surely they could find pro-government people in or outside of Venezuela to interview or quote if they really wanted to and they are quiet on news that doesn't support the coup campaign. I can't remember the last time I heard someone speak in favor of Venezuela on NPR or the BBC (which is broadcast for much of the day, at least on my NPR station). Sometimes the BBC talks to people who have a softer position, as long as they are still against President Maduro. Years ago the BBC would sometimes interview people with very different views, even though it is a propaganda arm of the British government.

It's ridiculous how NPR and others change their terms in step with government policy. Notice how their terms for the Syrian government quickly changed around early 2018 when the US and its allies gave up on overthrowing President Assad (official title) in the short term (and the BBC stopped disproportionat ely covering Syria). More recently they stopped referring to Guaido as president and NPR doesn't mention Venezuela very often now. I used to like to have the radio on and hear NPR's take on the news, but it has gotten to be too much.

One question is whether Trump's campaign against Venezuela represents his model for toppling governments, or will he turn to war like his predecessors.
-4 # Woody41 2019-06-12 22:04
No surprise here. NPR did the same sort of hyping for Bush's invasion of Iraq. Not to mention its support of assaults on Yugoslavia, Libya, Cuba, etc., etc.
+3 # RICHARDKANE.Philadelphia 2019-06-13 05:31
It’s not Russia that had the most foreign influence in getting Trump elected but the massive effort by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Alliance with the Saudi Crown Prince. Hopefully Netanyahu
will be very soon tried for his corruption. Eric Prince of the former gunman for hire Backwater company paid a million dollars for Hillary’s emails then handed them to Putin’s agents to give to Wikileaks. Now Eric Prince is officially a lobbyist for China to further make money tying the world in a knot.
0 # logical1 2019-06-20 23:32
What are you talking about? Netanyahu and Syria combined to get Trump elected.
Have you been drinking or drugging yourself?
And Hillary's emails have something to do with this!
+1 # ktony 2019-06-13 07:25
"All Things Considered's Ari Shapiro told me that this history was actually a central reason for the newsmagazine's **reporting trip to Colombia's border with Venezuela.**"
First,thanks to michaelpnc for the link. I see a lot of petulant whining, mixed with loads of propaganda, in the editor's response.
**Note that NPR does not seem to have sent reporters to Venezuela itself, only to the border with Colombia. This is designed to provide plenty of dissident voices without any balance whatever from citizens on the other side.
-5 # dquandle 2019-06-15 02:04
why? cuz thats what National Pentagon Radio has done for decades. NPR exists to start and perpetuate wars, no matter which criminal party is in power at the time. All war, all the time.
0 # Unredactor 2019-06-27 23:58
"The opposition did not contest the last election [which Maduro won]. They boycotted it."

-- Why do progressives keep saying this when it's not true? Maduro had five or six challengers, one of whom (Henri Falcon) got 21% of the vote.

It is true that the major opposition grouping, MUD, obeyed U.S. orders to boycott. But Falcon defied U.S. threats and ran anyway.

Recognizing facts in this case can help us understand more clearly what's going on. Not all the opposition eschews democracy; but Guaido and his party are revealed as far rightists (who pretend to be social democratic).
0 # Dale 2019-07-05 09:29
Outrageous journalism. Boycott NPR

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