This is the sort of thing I should talk more about. US empire works in big, loud and violent ways, but that’s not where the true power lies. The power is in offices and courts around the country and around the world. The Southern District of New York, the subject of today’s video, is one of those locations of power. The thing that keeps me from doing more video on US legal domination is complexity. Sure, I can read an article unpacking some aspect of the legal-regulatory complex, but how do I know I’ve got a trustworthy interpretation? The extraordinary case of Steven Donziger and Chevron is a rare animal. Commentators across the ideological spectrum are disturbed, so I can feel confident making some comments. I hope you enjoy it.
With this blog post, I’d like to continue to complain about something I was harping on in today’s video. In our new media era coverage of international news is just abysmal. Because it gets clicks, you can find exhaustive coverage of every new sound bite in the 2020 US presidential election. But when political earthquakes like this happen, we’re reliant on a staggeringly small range of voices. As I mentioned in the video, many of the New York Times stories written on Bolivia are actually produced in Brazil. That may be where their regional headquarters are but in previous eras there would have been actual correspondents on the ground, or at least competent local stringers that the NYT could have been able to rely upon. But instead we’ve got a guy who certainly knows more than I do, but will be writing about Brazil next week, and maybe Uruguay the week after next.
I am kind of hard on the unthinking coverage of the New York Times and the Washington Post in this video, but that doesn’t mean I am against these organizations. In fact, I think you should all subscribe to them. As biased and incomplete as the stories they tell sometimes are, without them we’d be lost. If the opponents of these resources get their way, then all we’d have to go on in Bolivia would be the reports of the Organization of American States, the US State Department, and the triumphant tweets of US senators. As bad as things are now, that would be even worse. In the 1980s the US media effectively blocked some terrible US policies in Latin America. It’s pretty clear that the media no longer has the strength or capacity to do that. That’s pretty sad.