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Request for correction in Guardian re piece on Venezuela

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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Request for correction in Guardian re piece on Venezuela Reply with quote

exchange with CIF editor

--Previous Message--
: RE: A bleak new year for the world's remaining
: dictators
: Dear Becky
: This comment piece by Bruce Bueno de
: Mesquita stated that
: "With a global economic downturn,
: falling oil prices, and lots of old and sick
: dictators, 2011 provided a great opportunity
: for political change. The coming year is
: likely to see the consolidation of power by
: some successor governments, few real shifts
: to democracy, and more turmoil in Syria,
: Russia and maybe Venezuela (where Chavez is
: rumoured to be terminally ill) or elderly
: Raul Castro's Cuba."
: Hugo Chavez is not a dictator. Comment pages
: should not provide license for writers to
: lie.
: The Guardian should run a correction.
: Joe Emersberger

Dear Joe
I wasn't aware of this piece until you bought it to my attention (it
has been the holidays here). Had I been here, I would have edited this
out because I personally think it is a lazy use of language. However,
I don't think it merits a correction taking the looser definition of
a dictator as someone who rules in an authoritarian manner, it falls
within the definition of fair comment. However, thank you for bringing
it to my attention: I will raise the matter with the editor concerned.
Best wishes

Hi Becky,
Thanks very much for replying.
I'm glad you would have edited that out had you been on duty. However, the problem with your "loose definition" of a "dictator" is that it will never be applied consistently. For example, the head of any business - including your bosses at the Guardian - could be called dictators by your loose definition. In fact, that woud actually be accurate according to the real definition of a dictator. Do you think many Guardian employees will start publicly - and in all seriousness - calling their bosses dictators?

Is Obama a "dictator" given his very open and fierce assault on civil liberties in the USA? Do you think the Guardian would have allowed Bruce Bueno de Mesquita to casually include Obama among his list of dictators?

When a newspaper allows this "loose definition" of dictator to be applied to US enemies, it is facilating US efforts to subvert democracy. I'm sure you understand that is a serious problem.

Joe Emersberger
Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:50 pm
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