More Double Standards Over (Potential) Latin American Dictators

Reporter Ginger Thompson continued the paper's pattern of leaving out vital parts of recent Honduras history, in her Saturday story on the simmering political situation there, "U.S. Approach to Honduras Raises Doubts in Latin America."

Ever since the "coup" against Honduras's left-wing president Manuel Zelaya, the Times has lobbied for his reinstatement both editorially and in its reporting, while barely addressing the reasons he was deposed in the first place: His unconstitutional move to attempt a run for another term as president. The Honduran Congress declared his actions unconstitutional in a unanimous vote.

Thompson managed to get to President Obama's left, criticizing the United States for being "slow to criticize human rights abuses by the de facto government," without actually documenting what those abuses were.

The ouster of Manuel Zelaya, the Honduran populist president, five months ago propelled the deeply impoverished country onto President Obama's packed agenda. The question now is whether his administration's support for the presidential election being held there on Sunday will be seen as a stamp of approval for a coup or, as senior administration members maintain, the beginning of the end of the crisis.

Most countries in the region see it as the former. Haunted by ghosts of authoritarian governments not long in the grave, countries like Brazil, Argentina and Chile have argued that an election held by an illegal government is, by definition, illegal.

But the "ghosts of authoritarian governments" are in fact the very reason the Honduran congress stepped in to stop Zelaya from running again - to ensure a Hugo Chavez-style dictatorship didn't happen in Honduras.

Thompson also committed labeling disparity by pitting the "populist" Zelaya against "the conservative leaders of Honduras's de facto government."

Mr. Zelaya, once a darling of the Honduran upper classes, fell from favor when he began increasing the minimum wage, reducing the price of fuel and allying himself with President Chávez. His critics say he crossed a line when he defied the Supreme Court and pushed a referendum to change the Constitution so that he could run for another term. The court called in the military.

While criticizing the Times' coverage, Hot Air contributor Jimmy Bise Jr. did some basic explanatory work:

In this case, 'his critics' included the entire government of Honduras. Zelaya did not merely defy the Supreme Court; he openly violated the Honduran constitution which is crystal clear on the matter of Presidents serving more than one term and on the penalty for anyone who even attempts to change that provision. Both the Supreme Court (which unanimous decision included members of Zelaya's own party) and the Honduran legislature decided to remove Zelaya, even though they did not need to do so. Their actions were found appropriate by the Law Library of Congress....In other words, "his critics" include the whole of the Honduran government, the head of the Honduran armed forces, all the printers in Honduras, and the Law Library of the Congress of the United States.