The New York Times has been getting a bit of stick of late. For the last couple of years the USâ€™s paper of record has admitted to reporting government spin regarding the Invasion of Iraq as fact, publishing reports by journalists who simply cobbled them together from other papers and most recently, misquoting Hugo Chavez as saying that he regretted that he didnâ€™t get to meet the author of Hegemony and Survival, Noam Chomsky, before he died.
In the case of the latter, it turns out that the New York Times hadnâ€™t checked the translation. What the Venezuelan President had said was that he regretted not meeting the liberal economist JK Galbraith before he died (brought to our attention by the Angry Arab via Most Sincerely Folks).
In fact, when it comes to reporting on Hugo any semblance of objectivity goes out the window.
Today they tell us that the â€˜fiery populist leader of Venezuelaâ€™ has suffered a setback in his efforts to gain Latin Americaâ€™s open seat on the Security Council next year.
Neither country obtained the necessary 125 votes â€” two-thirds of those voting â€” to win the seat outright, but Guatemala ended the day with a lead of 110 to 77.
According to the NYT, Chavez has â€˜turned the contest into a focus of his campaign against Washington, and traveled widely and spent his countryâ€™s oil largess liberally to promote its candidacyâ€™.
The United States, however, is supporting Guatemala, a small impoverished nation that relies on foreign aid from the US. While the NYT makes the point that Hugo is spending Venezuelaâ€™s oil revenue promoting their bid there is no mention of the fact that the US uses foreign aid to countries that are up for a two year term on the open Security Council seat to maintain greater influence over Security Council decisions.
Back at the end of August it was reported that a paper was about to be published which showed that the levels of US aid provided to countries that join the Security Council for the two year stint increases during their tenure and then falls off again once they leave. In effect, these temporary members extract a rent for their vote.
The paper is called: â€œHow Much Is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nationsâ€ and was published in the Journal of Political Economy, where Stephen D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, is an editor.
According to the abstract:
A countryâ€™s U.S. aid increases by 59 percent and its U.N. aid by 8 percent when it rotates onto the council. This effect increases during years in which key diplomatic events take place (when membersâ€™ votes should be especially valuable) and the timing of the effect closely tracks a countryâ€™s election to, and exit from, the council.
The NYTâ€™s lack of sympathy for the Latin â€˜fieryâ€™ devil chaser could be down to his declared attempt to pit his countryâ€™s resources against the Masters of the Universe.
Francisco Arias CÃ¡rdenas, Venezuelaâ€™s ambassador, said his country was not battling Guatemala, which he called â€œa brother country,â€ but â€œfighting against the owners of the universe.â€
At least I presume thatâ€™s what CÃ¡rdenas said, it could be a misquote.
See also this