Aletho News


Chomsky is dishonest and deceptive in denying assault on Chavez

By Stephen Gowans on July 6, 2011

An article by reporter Rory Carroll in last Sunday’s Observer titled “Noam Chomsky criticises old friend Hugo Chavez for ‘assault’ on democracy” has set off a storm of controversy among Chomsky and Chavez supporters.

Some, angry at the leftist intellectual for criticizing the Venezuelan president, demanded an explanation. Chomsky replied that Carroll’s article was “dishonest” and “deceptive.”

But a transcript of the interview—which Chomsky told one blogger did not exist—suggests it is Chomsky, not Carroll, who is dishonest and deceptive.

“Let’s begin with the headline: complete deception,” Chomsky replies to one blogger.


Here’s what Chomsky told the Observer reporter.

Carroll: Finally, professor, the concerns about the concentration of executive power in Venezuela: to what extent might that be undermining democracy in Venezuela?

Chomsky: Concentration of executive power, unless it’s very temporary, and for specific circumstances, let’s say fighting world war two, it’s an assault on democracy (my emphasis).

Carroll: And so in the case of Venezuela is that what’s happening or at risk of happening?

Chomsky: As I said you can debate whether circumstances require it—both internal circumstances and the external threat of attack and so on, so that’s a legitimate debate—but my own judgment in that debate is that it does not.

Earlier in the interview Chomsky told Carroll that, “Anywhere in Latin America there is a potential threat of the pathology of caudillismo and it has to be guarded against. Whether it’s over too far in that direction in Venezuela I’m not sure but I think perhaps it is” (my emphasis).

So, Chomsky tells Carroll that concentration of executive power is an assault on democracy, that there’s a tendency toward concentration in Venezuela, and that in his judgment the circumstances don’t require it.

So how is it that the headline “Noam Chomsky criticises old friend Hugo Chavez for ‘assault’ on democracy” is deceptive and dishonest? Granted, Chavez might not be an old friend, at least not in the literal sense, but the Observer headline hardly seems to misrepresent Chomsky’s words.

Now, we can go around in circles about whether Carroll fairly or dishonestly recounted his conversation with Chomsky (though it looks like the dishonesty here isn’t Carroll’s), but anyone who insists that Chomsky didn’t criticize Chavez is going to have to do a fair amount of straw clutching. Yes, the leftist intellectual did criticize Washington in his interview with Carroll, and he did point out all the good that has happened in Venezuela (which Carroll acknowledges in his article.) But so what? That doesn’t negate Chomsky’s open criticism of Chavez — which is what a number of Chavez partisans are agitated about.

The occasion for the interview was Chomsky’s open letter criticizing the detention of Judge Maria Lourdes Affiuni. Affiuni had freed banker Eligio Cedeno in 2009. Cedeno, who had faced corruption charges, immediately fled the country. Chavez denounced the judge as a criminal and demanded that she be jailed for 30 years.

We can debate whether Chavez’s treatment of Affiuni is heavy-handed, but it doesn’t take a high-profile intellectual of Chomsky’s caliber to figure out that the establishment press will use all the ammunition it can lay its hands on to vilify Chavez, and the best ammunition of all is that which comes from the Left. It’s one thing for a US state official to raise concerns about Chavez. You expect it. It’s quite another for a leftist intellectual to do the same.

It might be said that Chomsky didn’t know the Observer would use his criticism to blacken Chavez’s reputation, but that would be dishonest and deceptive.  It’s hard to swallow the canard that poor old Noam–whose understanding of the media is second to none–blindly stumbled into an ambush. “I should know by now that I should insist on a transcript with the Guardian, unless it’s a writer I know and trust,” Chomsky lamented.

Yeah, right.

Media Lens, springing to Chomsky’s defense, noted perspicaciously that ‘the Guardian (the Observer’s sister newspaper) is normally happy to ignore (Chomsky) and his views. But when Chomsky expresses criticism of an official enemy of the West, he suddenly does exist and matter for the Guardian.”

But hadn’t the co-author of Manufacturing Consent figured this out long ago?

I think it would be fair to suppose he has. That he went ahead anyway, and allowed the press to add his criticisms of Chavez to what he himself calls the “vicious, unremitting attack by the United States and the west generally” on Venezuela, could mean one of two things.

Either Chomsky is a press-hound.

Or he’s not as much of a friend of Chavez as Carroll–and a good number of leftists-think.

Or both.


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July 6, 2011 - Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular


  1. I think it is fair to say Chomsky supported Chavez when he seemed to espouse democratic principles-he famously called for adherence to the Constitution when he was imprisoned during the coup, and supporters came onto the streets with copies of it- but when he overturned term limits, the stage was set for a less democratic and more and more authoritarian style


    Comment by Robert | July 7, 2011

    • It must be special to be from the US and be chosen to critique the minor variations in the practice of democracy in other nations around the world.

      By the way Robert, the Venezuelan vote on overturning term limits required a 2/3 majority of the popular vote, presenting it as something that Chavez “did” is deceptive and dishonest.


      Comment by aletho | July 7, 2011

  2. First of all, The Guardian quietly changed the headline to Carroll’s July 3 article on July 6. The word “denounces” was changed to “crticizes”.

    Second, a detailed Q&A with Chomsky appeared in the Brazilian newspaper FOLHA which did honestly represent his views on Venezuela and on term limits which many western democracies do not have. Venezuela, of course, has recall referdums which most western deomcrcies also do not have – especailly for the highest level officials. Chavez was subjected to one in 2004.

    Should NC have anticpated that the Guardian would be less honest than even the NY Times – never mind FOLHA. I think so, but he made that criticism of himself.


    Comment by Joe Emersberger | July 8, 2011

    • Chomsky successfully serves the mind control regime with methodical perfection.

      The wobbly liberals and progressives that read the Guardian are convinced that even the left is “denouncing” Chavez. (The fact that the Guardian later “quietly” altered the title being irrelevant)

      Chomsky then does damage control to salvage his credibility with the left by claiming he was duped. (For only a few actual leftists this may be satisfactory, but the fact that Chomsky’s days are numbered means he can become more bold in his subversion of the left while only damaging his legacy)


      Comment by aletho | July 8, 2011

  3. It’s contradictory to call the headline irrelevant after you’ve called attention to it in your article.

    Chomsky’s credibility should depened on what he says – not the spin put on it by a dishonest reporter (and editors). Moreover, the Guardian was obviously not the only newspaper Chomsky talked to at the time. Again see the FOLHA Q&A. That wasn’t after the fact “damage control” as you put it.

    If the Guardian thought the transcript was so damning of Chavez then they would have published it to begin with – not after they were challenged. It was the Guardian doing damage control – further illustrated by the headline change.


    Comment by Joe Emersberger | July 8, 2011

    • No, Joe, it’s not contradictory to call the headline change irrelevant. The wobbly liberal readers of the Guardian never knew that the headline was altered and they don’t visit Aletho News. For them and the assorted multitudes that heard about Chomsky’s “denunciation” of Chavez the later alteration is entirely irrelevant.

      Chomsky’s actual verbatim quotes are denunciations as shown in another posted article –

      The fact that Chomsky will denounce Chavez to liberal outlets while offering mealy mouthed backtracking to left publications does not repair his reputation.

      Face reality. Chomsky was part of the crowd that piled on to attack Castro and Ortega for defending Libya against the fraudulent claims of bombarding protesters. He went so far as to attack Chavez for not adequately denouncing Gadhafy even though the Venezuelan foreign ministry had taken a measured, and as it turned out appropriate, position on the matter.

      Chomsky is simply a tool.


      Comment by aletho | July 8, 2011

      • chomsky is intellectually bankrupt, he could take lessons from a real man with real ethics and real credibility and real integrity such as Norm Finkelstein.

        characterizing chomsky as even someone who should be taken seriously is the same as legitimization of guys like Elie ‘the weasel’ Wiesel, the man without the requisite tatoo on his forearm that would prove he was in Auschwitz or any nazi death camp, for that matter.

        even this post is giving chomsky too much creedence in shedding any light on his shilling butt.

        you could modify your last line by adding the requisite ‘s’ to the last word in the post. then you’d have him exactly right. determining which khazarian hyena’s anus he fell out of is totally another matter.


        Comment by enough about shill chomsky, he doesn't merit the further examination nor the publicity | July 8, 2011

  4. In your zeal to denounce Chomsky you deny the obvious about a liberal rag like the Guardian and one of its most flagrantly dishonest reporters Yes, Chomsky should have known better than to talk to them at all without demanding that a transcript (that he checked over) be published – or a full audio recording. However, what he actually said to Carroll was not unreasonable at all. It was not “denunciation” of Chavez. Chomsky bent over backwards to put his criticism in proportion and provide context. Carroll went out of his way to edit it out (just running the Q&A woudl have been less work) – and understimated the backlash.


    Comment by Joe Emersberger | July 8, 2011

    • Joe,

      The thing about making “reasonable” critiques of political leaders who are targeted for elimination is that it makes the person providing the critique a collaborator in setting the stage for aggression. There is no “proportion” excuse. The context is one of relentless propaganda designed to foster acquiescence to invasion, a propaganda campaign that Chomsky has participated in more than once or twice.


      Comment by aletho | July 8, 2011

  5. Refusing to make any criticism at all of the Chavez government is unwise for many reaosns. One is that it makes the corporate press’ efforts to caricature the Left easier. Seems far more sensible to aggressively challenge distortions of any criticism that is made which is what many people did in this case.


    Comment by Joe Emersberger | July 8, 2011

    • Joe,

      As amply demonstrated by Stephen Gowans in the above article, Chomsky did in fact attack Chavez, there was no deception on the part of the Guardian in characterizing his comments as such.

      Rather than offer critique of Chavez, Chomsky could have looked into the facts and actually challenged the distortions of reality that the main stream media creates.

      Chomsky has been decrying the “authoritarianism” that he feels is displayed in the Afiuni case. Perhaps a good place for Chomsky’s defenders to begin would be to become familiar with the facts of that case:


      Comment by aletho | July 8, 2011

  6. Chomsky is consist in being a disinformational hitman for the imperial plutocracy. Duped are his pseudo-intellectual psychopaths with gullibility to uncritically swallow the propaganda that he is “the smartest man in the world” and any opinion to the contrary are an insult to their intelligence, as they dogmatically retreat into a dogmatic mindset.

    Parallels that come to mind are calling Henry Kissinger ‘brilliant’ and more recently the cretin in residence at the White House, Barack Obama.

    With those fraudulent accolades accepted, reason is deferred to “Chomsky says” which to me is tantamount to “Simon says” and they parrot the propaganda in blind arrogance a priory in arrogant self-righteousness.

    Lud Arens exposed Chomsky’s treacherousness in being dismissive in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Chomsky said, “It does not matter” – as to by whom and why JFK was assassinated.

    Why? Well, from my own research, it is clear to me that Israel was the co-conspirator with then Vice-president Lyndon B. Johnson, the CIA, Pentagon, and power elite in the banking cabal.

    And what has old Noam Chomsky had to say when asked about 9/11 from the floor at his speaking events? “It does not matter!”

    It would matter if he said the Mossad, Pentagon, White House, and NYC Zionist elite did it; and that the global corporate mass media, a craven and complicit congress, and overall pusillanimity of the general public at-large to prefer ignorance to the truth or stopping the multiple wars of aggression perpetrated under its pretext.

    Therefore, Chomsky is a war criminal who consequently condones genocide for Eretz Israel. Let us not forget that he was a kubbutzim and still is ideologically. Deception is the motto of the Mossad; Chomsky has been doing nothing more than a “limited-hangout” since!


    Comment by Bill Mitchell | July 8, 2011

  7. […] Comment by Robert | July 7, 2011 | Reply […]


    Pingback by Chomsky is dishonest and deceptive in denying assault on Chavez | Pure Democracy Movement | July 8, 2011

  8. Chomsky is against Chavez because Chavez in anti-Zionist and criticizes Israel just like Libyan Qaddafi who Chomsky was also against. Chomsky supported the murderous thugs labeling them as “rebels” all the while falsely claiming that Qaddafi as being a dictator. Qaddafi was out of power by 1979!

    When it comes to “Manufacturing Consent”, Noam Chomsky is the grand master. He is Zionism first line of defense.


    Comment by Deadbeat | December 23, 2011

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