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Editorial disconnect 

Further to my Haitian queries below, today’s Guardian does have a piece by Peter Hallward that reinforces Jeff Sach’s points.

What’s so odd to me is that the two news stories The Guardian runs on Haiti are absolutely uninformed by this analysis.

Remember this next time you read polling results 

Jay Rosen: “Polls work because they are a leveler and abstracter of the public’s speech. They screen out way more than they allow through; but when news organizations become a sponsor and supporter of polls, they tend to stress the informational value and truth content of polling as a matter of course.

“Not so visible is everything wiped out and rendered mute by the basic methods of survey research. This happens not because the scripters are biased; but because they’re scripters, inevitably drawing big boxes for us to jump into, narrowing down the options when it comes to political choice, making as little room as possible for ambivalence, which does not measure well.”

The real story of Haiti 

A handful of left-wing blogs (and also see Whiskey Bar) are trying to winkle out what’s really been happening in Haiti, but none of the conventional media I read seems interested in challenging the standard line promulgated by the US and (new-found friends) France.

An exception was Jeff Sach’s comment in yesterday’s Financial Times (subscribers only). I have a lot of respect for Jeff and I found his chronology utterly damning. Some excerpts from Sachs:

“President George Bush’s foreign policy team came into office intent on toppling Mr Aristide, and their efforts were apparently consummated on Sunday.”

“Mr Aristide won the presidential election later that year [2000]. The US media now reports that those elections were ‘boycotted by the opposition,’ and hence not legitimate, but this is a cruel joke to those who know Haiti. In fact, Haiti’s voters elected Mr Aristide in late 2000 with an overwhelming mandate and the opposition, such as it was, ducked the elections. Duvalier thugs hardly constituted a winning ticket and as a result, they did not even try. Nor did they have to.”

“The ease with which another Latin American democracy crumbled is stunning. What, though, has been the role of US intelligence agencies among the anti-Aristide rebels? How much money went from US-funded institutions and government agencies to help the opposition. And why did the White House abandon the Caribbean compromise proposal it had endorsed just days before? These questions have not been asked.”

Better than from Number Ten 

Mysociety has launched the immensely valuable Downing Street Says. Here’s their description:

“Every day the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman meets a small coterie of political journalists known as ‘the lobby’ for a topical chat, or ‘briefing’. We’ve built a site that lets you: read summaries of these briefings, add your own comments and find what other websites are saying about the issues discussedÂ… This website aims to short-circuit this game of political Chinese whispers. Every day we will publish what the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman actually said in response to the lobby’s questioning, rather than what he was reported as saying.”

Their FAQ is entertaining and revealing.

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