A tale of two leaders | 15.03.05

Has it really come to this? The Economist now seems fairer to Hugo Chávez:

HUGO CHÁVEZ, Venezuela’s leftist president, has long complained of a “media conspiracy” against him. He has a point. Most of the country’s privately owned television channels and newspapers enthusiastically joined a three-year campaign to unseat him—though they were also obliged, by law, to carry Mr Chávez’s frequent and lengthy speeches to the nation. They backed an abortive coup in 2002, failing to cover a military-civilian counter-coup that restored Mr Chávez until it could no longer be ignored. Later that year, media bosses played a leading role in promoting a two-month general strike.


The media are taking legal advice—and more care. The latter, many concede, is no bad thing: they have often been quick to publish unsubstantiated stories that put the government in a bad light.

Than to Thaksin Shinawatra:

Nor should anyone be happier than we were four years ago about Mr Thaksin’s respect for democracy. In office, he has behaved more like an unelected strongman than a parliamentarian. His hatred of criticism is legendary. He and his associates are accused of using their power and money to discourage dissent. Shin Corp, for example, bought control of Thailand’s only independent television station before the 2001 election. Since then, relatives of the secretary-general of Mr Thaksin’s party have bought a big stake in the country’s most outspoken newspaper, the Nation.

I'm not saying The Economist should let Thaksin off lightly just because he may well be the third most pro-American, pro-free-trade, pro-business Thai after my father and I (albeit a distant third). But if the magazine can find nuances about Hugo “Anti-Bush” Chávez the Venezuelan media, then why not Thaksin “Texas is my second home” Shinawatra and the Thai media?

What, it’s easier to find a journalist fluent in Spanish than one fluent in Thai? Your Bangkok correspondent has no choice but to rely on spoon-feeding from The Nation and the Bangkok Post?

I see. Never mind then.

P.S. The Nation is the most “outspoken”? I think the 2bangkok.com has better adjectives: “rabid anti-government”. And The Nation isn’t even no.1 in that department. Thai Post is. (But it’s in Thai! No fair! How is a foreign correspondent supposed to know about it?)

P.P.S. “Anti-Bush” and “Texas is my second home” added later.

23:52 ▪ media

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