Neither Honor nor Professionalism to be Found in Jackson Diehl’s Analysis of Latin America

Former Washington Post Latin America correspondent Jackson Diehl – and current Post columnist – has added to his already tarnished credentials as a chronically-biased source on regional affairs by writing a series of highly prejudiced columns on the Post’s editorial page on hemispheric issues, all from a markedly rightwing bent. These columns have done little to help the Post distinguish itself from the Wall Street Journal, which boasts a reputation for having one of the most hardline editorial pages in the country. Mr. Diehl’s contributions have only helped to confirm this fact. In particular, he has conducted himself in a flagrantly non-thoughtful manner when discussing the democratically elected government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.

In Diehl’s most recent anti-Chávez salvo, published by the Post on April 10, 2006, he defends the actions of the Venezuelan opposition group Súmate, and denounces the legal proceedings against the leaders of the organization, Maria Corina Machado and Alejandro Plaz. However, nowhere does Diehl examine the behavior of this group in a manner which even begins to approximate an acceptable journalistic standard. We also look in vain in Diehl’s writings for a sense of professional integrity or a spirit of balance regarding basic fair play.

The fact is that Caracas’ charges against Súmate’s leaders are completely merited and stem from legitimate and incontrovertible revelations about their operations, including their organic ties to opposition political parties and their acceptance of tens of thousands of the Bush administration’s covert funds in what was an undeniably partisan effort to oust the Chávez government. This led to a series of events which brought Machado to be physically present on the occasion that a would-be triumphant cabal was celebrating its short-lived coup which had attempted to overthrow the country’s legitimate government by unconstitutional means. Her signature, along with the other coup plotters’, was there to be read in spite of her lame excuses justifying her presence.

COHA will soon be issuing a detailed response to Diehl’s most recent work, but several of COHA’s past articles also addressed both the Súmate topic and Diehl’s writing, including a February 9, 2006 Press Release “The Devil Wears Prada: María Corina Machado and Washington’s Indecent Game Against Venezuela,” and an August 11, 2004 release “The Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl Strikes Out on Venezuela.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Diehl’s undisciplined rants, and the manner in which he tendentiously manipulates information, places him on the outside of respectable dialogue concerning troubling aspects of U.S.-Venezuelan relations. He launches his sorties from the protected confines of the Post’s editorial debate. He should be prepared to expand his farrago to a more open setting in a public debate on the issue of Venezuelan-U.S. relations and their implications for the future of inter-American ties. COHA is prepared to participate in such a debate.