21 May, 2012
Is it always bad govt. vs. good free media? In The World Tomorrow, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador tells Julian Assange it is time to get rid of false stereotypes depicting wicked governments persecuting saint-like journalists and news outlets.
Correa says the local media are just using the guise of journalism to meddle in politics and destabilize governments for fear of losing power. When Correa took office, five out of seven privately-owned TV channels in Ecuador were run by bankers.
“As you can imagine, if I wanted to take measures against banking in order to prevent, for instance, the crisis and the abuses which are now taking place in Europe, especially in Spain, I had to face a merciless TV campaign aimed at defending their owners’ interests,” he told Assange.
So much so that when WikiLeaks cables have become available, Ecuador’s media have chosen not to publish them at all. Correa says this is because those cables affected the media itself – “for instance, disputes amongst information and news groups”.
In the end, to avoid being discredited, “they reached an agreement not to air their dirty linen in public.”
In 2010 Correa was taken hostage in an attempted coup d’etat. After the attempt he launched a controversial counter-offensive Ecuador’s media, which he blames for the coup attempt.
His actions were dubbed a “crackdown on media freedom” and “elimination of opposition” by the Western press. Correa says while governments are trying to do something for the majority of the population, they are “persecuted by journalists who think that by having a pen and a microphone, they can direct their resentment” against the government. And often “they insult and slander out of sheer dislike.”
Speaking about Ecuador’s relations with the United States, Correa says that the last thing he wants is to be seen as having an anti-American stance. He lived in the US for four years and graduated from a US college with a PhD in economics.
“However, I will always call a spade a spade,” he adds. “And if there are international US policies detrimental to our country, and to Latin America, I will denounce them strongly, and I will never allow my country’s sovereignty to be affected. “
Stay tuned and watch the new episode of Assange’s The World Tomorrow exclusively on RT, Tuesday, 11:30 GMT.