The revolution isn’t being televised: Beyond Hong Kong, media ignores global protests – ALAN MACLEOD OCTOBER 31, 2019 9:00AM (UTC)

Mainstream media has covered Hong Kong’s protests extensively, but ignored Haiti, Ecuador, Chile and elsewhere

It’s all kicking off everywhere in 2019. Haitians are revolting against a corrupt political system and their President Jovenel Moïse, who many see as a kleptocratic U.S. puppet. In Ecuador, huge public manifestations managed to force President Lenín Moreno to backtrack on his IMF-backed neoliberal package that would have sharply cut government spending and increased transport prices (, 10/23/19).

Meanwhile, popular Chilean frustration at the conservative Piñera administration boiled over into massive protests that were immediately met with force. “We are at war,” announced President Sebastián Piñera, echoing the infamous catchphrase of former fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet. Piñera claimed that those responsible for violently resisting him were “going to pay for their deeds” as he ordered tanks through Santiago. (See, 10/23/19.)

Huge, ongoing anti-government demonstrations are also engulfing LebanonCatalonia and the United Kingdom.

NewsHour: Pro-democracy demonstrators and Beijing fight for the future of Hong Kong

PBS NewsHour (10/5/19)

Yet the actions that have by far received the most attention in corporate media are those in Hong Kong, where demonstrations erupted in response to a proposed extradition agreement with the Chinese central government that opponents felt would undermine civil liberties and Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status. A search for “Hong Kong protests” on Oct. 25 elicits 282 responses in the last month in the New York Times, for example, compared to 20 for “Chile protests,” 43 for Ecuador and 16 for Haiti. The unequal coverage is even more pronounced on Fox News, where there were 70 results for Hong Kong over the same period and four, two and three for ChileEcuador and Haiti, respectively.

This disparity cannot be explained due to the protests’ size or significance, the number of casualties or the response from the authorities. Eighteen people have died during the ongoing protests in Haiti, 19 (and rising) in Chile, while in Ecuador, protesters themselves captured over 50 soldiers who had been sent in as Moreno effectively declared martial law. In contrast, no one has been killed in Hong Kong, nor has the army been called in, with Beijing expressing full confidence in local authorities to handle proceedings. The Chilean government announced it had arrested over 5,400 people in only a week of protests, a figure more than double the number arrested in months of Hong Kong demonstrations (Bloomberg, 10/4/19). Furthermore, social media have been awash with images and videos of the suppression of the protests worldwide.

One way of understanding why the media is fixated on Hong Kong and less interested in the others is to look at who is protesting, and why.

Worthy and unworthy victims

NYT: Hong Kong’s Challenge to Xi Jinping’s Iron Rule

New York Times (8/14/19)

Over 30 years ago, in their book “Manufacturing Consent,” Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky developed their theory of worthy vs. unworthy victims to explain why corporate media cover certain stories and why others are dropped. They compared the media coverage of a single murdered priest in an enemy state (Communist Poland) to that of over 100 religious martyrs, including some U.S. citizens, murdered in Central American client states over a period of two decades. They found that not only did the New York Times, Time, Newsweek and CBS News dedicate more coverage to the single priest’s assassination, the tone of coverage was markedly different: In covering the killing of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, media expressed indignation, demanding justice and condemning the barbarism of Communism. The killings of religious figures in Central America by pro-U.S. government groups, on the other hand, were reported in a matter-of-fact manner, with little rhetorical outrage.

In other words, when official enemies can be presented as evil and allies as sympathetic victims, corporate media will be very interested in a story. In contrast, they will show far less enthusiasm for a story when the “wrong” people are the villains or the victims.

On Hong Kong, the New York Times has published three editorials (6/10/198/14/1910/1/19), each lauding the “democracy-minded people” fighting to limit “the repressive rule of the Chinese Communists,” condemning the Communist response as evidence of the backward, “brutal paternalism of that system,” in which China “equates greatness with power and dissent with treachery.” Hong Kong, on the other hand, thanks to the blessing of being a former British colony, had acquired “a Western political culture of democracy, human rights, free speech and independent thought.” (The Times has not elected to publish any editorials on the other protests.)

The Times also ridiculed the idea that “foreign forces” (i.e., the U.S. government) could be influencing the protests, calling it a “shopworn canard” used by the Communist government. Yet the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has officially poured over $22 million into “identifying new avenues for democracy and political reform in Hong Kong” or China since 2014. The Times editorials did not mention this funding as possibly complicating their dismissal of foreign involvement in the Hong Kong protests as a “canard.”

Guardian: Ecuador moves government out of capital as violent protests rage

Guardian (10/8/19)

However, media (e.g., Voice of America, 10/11/19; Miami Herald, 10/9/19; Reuters, 10/9/19) are taking seriously the accusation that the Ecuadorian protests are, in fact, masterminded abroad, by President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, with the Guardian (10/8/19) going so far as to describe the Ecuadorian protesters not as “democracy-minded people,” but “rioters” — a label not appearing in connection with Hong Kong, except as an accusation by Chinese officials (e.g., Time, 10/2/19; CNN, 10/22/19), who are almost universally condemned in coverage as part of a “repressive” (e.g., Vox, 8/29/19; Guardian, 10/19/19) “dictatorship” (New York Times, 8/29/19).

In the cases of the less-covered protests, the “wrong” people are protesting and the “wrong” governments are doing the repressing. As the Washington Post (10/14/19) noted on Haiti,

One factor keeping Moïse in power is support from the United States. US officials have been limited in their public comments about the protests.

On Ecuador, the State Department has been more forthcoming, issuing a full endorsement of Moreno’s neoliberal austerity package:

The United States supports President Moreno and the Government of Ecuador’s efforts to institutionalize democratic practices and implement needed economic reforms…. We will continue to work in partnership with President Moreno in support of democracy, prosperity, and security.

In other words, don’t expect any angry editorials denouncing U.S. client states like Haiti or Ecuador, or arguing that the Chilean government’s repression of its protest movement shows the moral bankruptcy of capitalism. Indeed, corporate media (e.g., Guardian, 10/8/19; CNN, 10/8/19; USA Today, 10/10/19) emphasized the violence of the Ecuadorian protesters while downplaying Hong Kong’s — the New York Times (6/30/19) even inventing the phrase “aggressive nonviolence” to describe the Hong Kong protesters’ actions, so eager was it to frame the demonstrations against China as unquestionably laudable.

Which protest movements interest corporate media has little to do with their righteousness or popularity, and much more to do with whom they are protesting against. If you’re fighting against corporate power or corruption in a U.S. client state, don’t expect many TV cameras to show up; that revolution is rarely televised.

Alan MacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book, “Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting,”was published by Routledge in April. Follow him on Twitter: @AlanRMacLeod.

The Senate just failed to overturn a Trump administration rule on the Affordable Care Act – Li ZhouOct 30, 2019, 1:09pm EDT

Forcing this vote was part of Democrats’ strategy to renew messaging on health care.

Senate Lawmakers Address The Media Following Weekly Policy Luncheons
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol on October 29, 2019, in Washington, DC. 
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ahead of the start of open enrollment, which begins this Friday, Senate Democrats are trying to send the Trump administration a pointed message: Steer clear of the Affordable Care Act.

In a vote on Wednesday, Democrats sought to overturn one of the administration’s most recent attempts to undermine the health care legislation: a rule that would give states more flexibility in the types of plans they could use ACA subsidies to purchase.

Under the administration’s rule, states could request a 1332 waiver, which would enable them to buy and offer plans that Democrats see as low-quality options, including plans that could discriminate against patients with preexisting conditions — rolling back one of the key accomplishments of the ACA.

To undo the rule, Democrats forced a vote on a resolution of disapproval, a measure that can be used to overturn administration regulations with a simple majority in the House and Senate. Trump, however, has the ability to veto this measure.

The resolution wound up falling short of the votes it needed, with a vote of 43-52, a sign that not enough Republican lawmakers were willing to break with their party on this front.

It’s worth noting, however, that the rule itself has not yet led to any states taking up these waivers in this way, as highlighted by the Washington Post’s Paige Cunningham. While it’s still a relatively new option and states could certainly capitalize on it down the line, this context underscores how much Wednesday’s vote primarily served to bolster Democratic messaging.

Messaging, after all, is what Senate Democrats’ renewed push on the ACA is all about. This week’s vote was intended to demonstrate how united lawmakers remain in protecting the law — while simultaneously forcing a slew of vulnerable Republicans in swing states to take a stance on it.

Defending the Affordable Care Act, especially the protections that it offers people with preexisting conditions, was a core plank of Democratic messaging in the 2018 midterms and it’s poised to serve as pivotal one yet again in the 2020 cycle.

This vote also marks the latest bid from Democrats to call attention to rule changes by the Trump administration. Previously, senators have attempted to undo rules that loosen pollution regulations for power plants, for example.

These votes help serve two purposes for the party: They signal an attempt to oppose the Trump administration despite being the minority — and they generate fodder for possible campaign attacks as the election rapidly approaches.

Secret Air Force Space Plane Lands After More Than 2 Years In Orbit – Scott Neuman October 28, 2019 6:39 AM ET

The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Mission 5 is seen after landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida on Sunday.
U.S. Air Force via Reuters

After a record-breaking 780 days circling the Earth, the U.S. Air Force’s mysterious X-37B unmanned space plane dropped out of orbit and landed safely on the same runway that the space shuttle once used.

It was the fifth acknowledged mission for the vehicle, built by Boeing at the aerospace company’s Phantom Works.

“Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing,” Brig. Gen. Doug Schiess, 45th Space Wing commander, said in a statement. “Our team has been preparing for this event, and I am extremely proud to see their hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B.”

As in previous missions, many of the details about the vehicle’s activities in the past two years are being kept under wraps. One experiment was to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment,” according to the Air Force statement.

Randy Walden, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said the latest X-37B mission “successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”

Walden’s statement sparked a reaction from some, such as Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who keeps tabs on the registration of satellites.

“The statement that this @usairforce X-37 flight deployed small satellites is alarming, since the US has not reported those deployments in its UN Registration Convention submissions,” McDowell tweeted. “This would be the first time that either the USA or Russia has blatantly flouted the Convention.”

The statement that this @usairforce X-37 flight deployed small satellites is alarming, since the US has not reported those deployments in its UN Registration Convention submissions. This would be the first time that either the USA or Russia has blatantly flouted the Convention. 

U.S. Air Force


The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle breaks record with 780 days in orbit after landing at @NASAKennedy‘s Shuttle Landing Facility at 3:51 a.m.

Learn more about its record breaking mission here: 

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The Air Force is believed to have two of the 29-foot-long reusable X-37Bs — which resemble miniature space shuttle orbiters — and both have flown multiple flights, according to They were originally designed to spend 240 days in orbit, but with the latest flight — and a previous one that went for 718 days — they have tripled their expected endurance. The latest mission, known as OTV-5, was launched into orbit by the SpaceX Falcon 9 on Sept. 7, 2017.

The X-37B was first developed by NASA as a test-bed for future spacecraft, but it was transferred to the Defense Advanced Research Agency in 2004 and then absorbed by the Air Force.


The NRA just called its own video network “distasteful and racist” – Jane CoastonOct 28, 2019, 5:35pm EDT

But the advertising firm that built NRATV says the NRA is “self destructing.”

Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRA, arrives prior to a speech by President Trump at the NRA Annual Meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 26, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRA, arrives prior to a speech by President Trump at the NRA Annual Meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 26, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the NRA, arrives prior to a speech by President Trump at the NRA Annual Meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 26, 2019.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A new complaint in a lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association against its former advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen, alleges that the firm engaged in “a stunning pattern of corruption, fraud, and retaliation” that nearly topped the organization’s CEO.

The complaint filing from October 25 first reported by the Daily Beast, also claims the gun rights organization’s infamous “culture war” publicity strategy was largely constructed by Ackerman McQueen — and that NRA executives found its work “distasteful and racist.”

In response, Ackerman McQueen argues — as its executive vice president Bill Powers did in an email to me — that the complaint is only an effort to hide the fact that the NRA is “self-destructing.” Ackerman McQueen accuses the NRA of committing fraud itself and of covering up a vast number of misdeeds, including allegations of sexual harassment.

In its counterclaim, the advertising firm states that — contrary to the claims of the NRA — the gun rights group and its CEO, Wayne LaPierre, were well aware of the messaging being used in its content. In fact, Ackerman McQueen alleges that LaPierre would ask for “more gasoline” and even riskier language in order to gain more notoriety for the group. In Ackerman McQueen’s telling, the NRA was well aware of the ad firm’s spending, with LaPierre’s “apparent paranoia and lust for secrecy” ensuring that he knew everything about the ad agency’s shaping of the NRA’s digital media outlet, NRATV.

The dueling complaints indicate one certainty: the relationship between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen, one that began in the early 1980s and made the NRA the most recognizable and powerful gun rights organization in America, is now one for the courts to adjudicate.

And the consequences for both sides could be dire. For Ackerman McQueen, allegations of fraud and double-billing could sink an 80-year legacy in advertising. But for the NRA, the lawsuit and the increasingly embarrassing allegations that court filings have revealed about the organization have already proven to be a dangerous distraction.

A finding against the NRA in court could put the group’s very existence at risk. If it were to lose the suit — and its tax-exempt status — it would be subject to not just the cost of losing the suit, but also the cost of annual income taxes (and back taxes as well.)

The NRA claims it was misled into wasting millions of dollars on a “dystopian culture rant”

As I’ve written previously, the NRA and Ackerman McQueen’s current enmity stems from alleged financial mismanagement that may have put the gun rights group in financial jeopardy.

The souring stems from an NRA insurance program Ackerman McQueen helped to roll out that would cover legal fees for self-defense shootings. That program is under investigation by New York State authorities, and the costs of dealing with that probe have the gun rights organization increasingly concerned about its finances.

The NRA filed lawsuits against Ackerman McQueen, with one complaint alleging financial mismanagement, and another focused on NRATV. But the lawsuits have become a massive headache for the NRA and for the advertising firm, as allegations from both Ackerman and the NRA have led to former NRA president Oliver North stepping down from his post after just one year on the job amid allegations he attempted to blackmail NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and fueled accusations of outrageous spending on both sides.

Some of the spending on Ackerman McQueen’s part is fueled by revenue it has gained from the NRA — in fact, according to reporting by the New Yorker and the Trace, only 10 percent of the gun rights organization’s money is being spent on gun safety, training, and education, with the rest going to “messaging” efforts, like an Ackerman-produced magazine created to show off wealthy NRA members’ cars and planes.

The October 25th filing alleges that much of the money the NRA spent on Ackerman McQueen’s services was rendered under false pretenses. It claims Ackerman McQueen went to great lengths to defraud the NRA, most visibly through NRATV, the organization’s online streaming service that shut downearlier this year. The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.