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By the way…

5 January 2011

I’ve been somewhat distracted by one of “ours” (a member of the cozy community of English-language lefty commentators on Latin America) being taken in by material published on what we have always assumed was a reliable alternative media source that apparently didn’t check the story fully.  The blogger was able to revise the post that mentioned the alternative media site, and, at least the alternative media site has a comments section where those affected by the story (or knowing facts that were missed, starting with the author’s personal agenda) probably have contained the damage.  And, it only involved a few individuals in one Mexican city.  This is troublesome, but none of us like our credibility thrown into question, or like to be put into the uncomfortable position of questioning the credibility of those we depend upon for our material.

Without getting into the messy details (not right now, anyway), I’d just say that I don’t blame the blogger, and don’t completely blame the publisher (only the original author of what amounts to slander against perfectly respectable people and organizations) for a situation that is bound to come up when one is obliged to produce more and more takes from a fresh and different perspective on a limited subject (even when the subject is as huge and generally defined as “Latin American political and social trends”).  For starters, none of us have the budgets or the time, or the staff to adequately edit, fact check and develop independent material.  We all do what we can, and depend on each other to make sure what we steal (er… borrow, appropriate, graciously accept) has me the standards we set for ourselves.

What is more than irritating is when outlets that DO have budgets, time, staff, etc. and an unlimited amount of material from which to chose, not only chose poorly, but misrepresent the facts and serve not to present “news” but to undermine any sense of honesty in the media.

I can’t download it (and outside the United States, access is limited), but MTV has some sort of “news” program called The Vice Guide to Everything that recently featured a “border guardian” group in Arizona, (from 07:00 to 10:10 on the video).  It  gushingly reported on a “volunteer militia” … You know, just — in the words of presenter Ryan Duffy — “a bunch of volunteers out here patrolling 160 miles of desert.”  A bunch of volunteers in that failed state where, in the words of the group’s leader, “you can own grenades, tanks even”.

A couple of problems.  The “U.S. Mexican border” show in the program is in Stanfield, Arizona, specifically in the Sonora Desert National Monument, which is quite a ways from the border.  And the leader of the group, affectionately referred to by Duffy as the “Ready Rangers” are led by (and spoken for by) their leader, J.T. Ready.

Ready set to go

You know… J.T. (Jason Todd) Ready who was thrown out of the Marine Corps in 1996 after  being court-martialed twice: once being absent without official leave, larceny and “wrongful appropriation”; and again for conspiracy, assault and solicitation.

The J.T. Ready is the Arizona spokes-model for the National Socialist Movement… twhose website tells us “Only those of pure White blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. Non-citizens may live in America only as guests and must be subject to laws for aliens. Accordingly, no Jew or homosexual may be a member of the nation. ”

The J.T. ready who , in October 2009, at a National Socialist Movement rally said “This is a white, European homeland. That’s how it should be preserved if we want to keep it clean, safe, and pure.”  Keeping it “white, safe and pure” means placing landmines on the border and ridding Arizona of latinos and Jews.

The J.T. Ready NOT presented by Ryan Duffy who is either too lazy (and/or stupid) to do five minutes of fact checking, or whose employer is lazy, stupid or — dare I say it — simply filling the airwaves (and bandwidths) with lies.

I understand MTV is basically an entertainment media, but in setting themselves up as news presenters, they should have at least basic standards of intellectual honesty (not to mention factual accuracy).  I wonder if the problem isn’t more the “need” to simply create a product that will generate an acceptable level of … viewership, readers, buyers, hits… something not limited to corporate media by any means, but something that calls into question not just the entire tone of the “immigration debate” but of the basic trust we can put into any of our sources.






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