No. 472

A Brit Reporter’s Undisclosed Venezuela Conflicts

Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America

A Brit Reporter’s Undisclosed Venezuela Conflicts

Phil Gunson and Eric Ekvall Are Upset with Narco News

By Al Giordano
With Unabridged Letters from Phil Gunson and Eric Ekvall

December 23, 2002

First, we will introduce the actors in this report on what happens when foreign media organizations don't apply enough scrutiny on their English-language correspondents in Latin America.

Eric Ekvall is a political consultant in Venezuela who used to work for the state-owned oil company PdVSA and the Ford Motor Company. He popped up last April, during the brief coup d’etat in Venezuela, defending Dictator-for-a-Day Pedro Carmona in an article by Juan Forero of the New York Times.

Phil Gunson refers to himself as a “freelance correspondent” in Venezuela. He has written during the past month for the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, MSNBC (online only) and the Independent of London. He has also been interviewed recently on NPR and on WAMU radio in Washington DC about the events in Venezuela (parts of those interviews are quoted below).

The two men have a relationship related to Gunson's "journalism" that - after they were given the opportunity to come clean by Narco News - neither Gunson nor Ekvall were willing to disclose.

Additionally, Gunson has an undisclosed conflict of interest, or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest (all journalistic codes of ethics prohibit such nondisclosure), with the key source that he quoted last April 11th to blame the still unsolved sniper assassinations of that day on supporters of the government of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela: His source for that uncorroborated statement – part of the justification for the coup d’etat – was Eurídice Ledezma, who Gunson has told sources (but did not disclose in his article) was his former girlfriend; a rapidly pro-coup reporter in Venezuela, also - coincidentally? - a vocal defender of Dictator-for-a-day Pedro Carmona.

Asked about this apparent conflict, Gunson sent a “response” to Narco News (published in full and uncensored below) in which he issued no denial or clarification of that serious allegation. He simply did not address it at all.

There are other serious problems with Gunson’s reports out of Venezuela last April and again this month. Many of his statements appear to us to have been made in a knowingly false manner.

More – a lot more – about Gunson in a moment…

Prologue: Ekvall’s Para-Journalists

There is a fourth player in Venezuela (who like Gunson and Ekvall is not a native Venezuelan) who has been a party to some of these correspondences: Michael Rowan, former business associate of Ekvall and columnist for the pro-coup daily El Universal in Caracas.

Last June, I received a letter from Rowan, claiming to be writing a column for El Universal, asking me how I make my living and from what sources. Of course I answered him right away. I think this is a question that every individual in public life – including journalists - should answer, and I answered Rowan immediately: those sources are already disclosed on our links and disclosures page:

While offering mine, I also asked Rowan to make his own disclosure: Why, if he was a newspaper columnist for El Universal, did he send me his letter from the same email address used by partisan political consultant Erik Ekvall? And didn’t he see a conflict-of-interest in using a shared email account with a political spin-doctor?

Rowan replied that his business relationship with Ekvall was strictly in the past, and that the shared email account was merely a holdover from that relationship. The question from Narco News must have concerned both men, because both, soon after, changed their email addresses.

Rowan also replied, aggressively, accusing me of being unwilling to disclose my sources of income because I had simply given him a link to where the information had already been disclosed to all readers, reporters and columnists, including him.

Noticing that Rowan wasn’t the brightest bulb on the block, I then took the careful time to spell it all out for him; repeating, specially for him, the same facts that already appeared on our links page. Since I live below the poverty level by United States standards, and own no house, no car, no credit card, and put virtually every cent I can muster into the work of Narco News anyway, I also had some fun explaining to Rowan that I sometimes make a few extra bucks playing my Dobro guitar and singing in nightclubs.

Rowan, finding no scandal to write about, then claimed he was going to write a nice little column about my guitar and me, and people who dedicate our lives to our principles. But to paraphrase Aimee Mann, I'd rather be played by a pro: Of course I did not believe him – I figured he was merely on an intelligence gathering mission for Ekvall and whatever undisclosed clients are behind Ekvall – and my skepticism was confirmed when Rowan’s supposed column never appeared.

Fast forward to October 2002: Ekvall pops up on the isle of Jamaica, during the respected and important Mind States conference “for a consciousness-expanding seminar unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before,” where one of my disclosed supporters was also slated to attend. There in Negril, Jamaica, Ekvall asked a lot of questions about Al Giordano and did his usual lobbying-complaining about me as well. I find it extremely entertaining that Ekvall can afford to go to Jamaica to this conference (the listed cost was $1,300; well worth the price; wish I could have afforded it) on entheogenic plants and hallucinogenic drugs, even as Ekvall claims that Chávez has destroyed the economy of Venezuela.

Then came the December 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela. Apparently, whatever Ekvall was doing in Negril, Jamaica, he didn’t take any of the lessons to heart, nor was his consciousness sufficiently expanded, obviously. Because despite the blood of 50 Venezuelans on his hands still from last April – through his defense of their butcher, Carmona – Ekvall is back at the pro-coup spinning wheel once again.

Gunson & Ekvall, Inc.?

Ekvall showed up on the Narco News radar screen again this month, via a Letter to the Editor sent December 19th by “freelance correspondent” Phil Gunson.

Gunson sent an email addressed “dear narco news” to complain about Narco News Associate Publisher Dan Feder’s December 18, 2002 report: “AP’s One-Sided Venezuela Coverage: On ‘Desk Reporters’ Who Phone-in the Spin.”

That letter from Gunson is published, uncensored and in full, below.

I found the letter curious, additional to its weak arguments, because Feder’s report did not mention Gunson (and Gunson’s response was very defensive: perhaps he took the reference to desk reporters who phone-in the spin a bit personally?) and also because of who he Cced it to: political consultant Erik Ekvall.

I thought, “what the hell is a ‘journalist’ doing Ccing his journo-to-journo letter to a partisan political consultant?” Others – like Authentic Journalist Lucy Komisar – also received a copy of the letter; whether that was Ekvall acting as Gunson’s consultant, spinning the letter, I don’t know: Neither of these guys, offered the opportunity, would answer my question about the details, although both sent me emails that indicated they had received the questions.

I had already noted that Gunson’s “reporting” – and interviews he gave on two United States radio programs – had reflected Ekvall’s pro-coup spin on recent history in Venezuela. The two seem to speak with one voice. I found this quite curious.

Upon further investigation, I found that Gunson had, last April, quoted Ekvall's spin on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, without disclosing that Ekvall had previously been a consultant to that company.

Upon still further investigation, I found another undisclosed conflict of interest in a very key report by Gunson during the coup last April in Venezuela: that his sole source for an uncorroborated accusation of a political assassination was – according to what Gunson told sources, and that I'm told appears in a book about Venezuela by Richard Gott – Gunson’s former girlfriend, Eurídice Ledezma, a rabidly pro-coup journalist and defender – like Ekvall – of Dictator-for-a-Day Carmona, whom she calls “Pedro.”

The harmony in which each of these players sing – Ekvall, Gunson, Rowan, and Ledezma – in favor of the dictator Carmona's coup d'etat, with knowing distortions in their published statements regarding Chávez and Venezuela, is very troublesome precisely because the nature of these relationships is undisclosed.

Even more troublesome, is the fact that once offered the opportunity to clear the air on their undisclosed conflicts-of-interest, both Ekvall and Gunson didn’t come clean. (At least Rowan, last June, admitted he had been a business associate of Ekvall’s. But Ekvall and Gunson have simply stonewalled.)

Troublesome, too, is that in their “responses” to my offers to disclose and come clean, the script of both Gunson and Ekvall’s letters to me this week is virtually identical. Both are published in full and uncensored below. Now let’s examine their mutual party line.

Through the Looking Glass

Gunson has compared, in his published work, the situation in Venezuela to “Alice in Wonderland,” that wonderful Lewis Carroll story that begins Chapter IV with Alice encountering two identical characters, which remind us of Ekvall and Gunson: Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

In the case of Ekvall and Gunson, it’s just as hard to pull them apart.

THEY were standing under a tree, each with an arm round the other's neck, and Alice knew which was which in a moment, because one of them had "DUM" embroidered on his collar, and the other "DEE". `I suppose they've each got "TWEEDLE" round at the back of the collar,' she said to herself.

They stood so still that she quite forgot they were alive, and she was just going round to see if the word "TWEEDLE" was written at the back of each collar, when she was startled by a voice coming from the one marked "DUM".

`If you think we're wax-works,' he said, `you ought to pay, you know. Wax-works weren't made to be looked at for nothing. Nohow.'

`Contrariwise,' added the one marked "DEE", `if you think we're alive, you ought to speak.'

Like Alice, I wondered if these two dumplings were alive or if they were what they appeared to be. And so I spoke to Ekvall and Gunson. I asked them questions: Like a reporter does. I gave each of them the chance to respond, to clear the air.

Ekvall fired off two responses, offering little to no disclosure, which he ended by declaring:

“End of conversation.”

Gunson got is response in an hour or so before deadline, which he concluded with:

“This correspondence is over.”

Touchy, eh? It was Gunson who started the conversation, after all. He dragged Ekvall into it, but he doesn’t want to continue now that he's been asked some important questions about his undisclosed conflicts. No problem: We’ll continue it with Civil Society.

The similarities in their “responses” are striking.

1. Both Gunson and Ekvall refused to answer legitimate questions or disclose their conflicts and potential conflicts..

Ekvall: “Al, I owe you no explanations whatsoever about how I make my living, who my clients are, or how I choose to spend my leisure time.”

Gunson: “I'm not stupid enough to lend credence to your show-trial (or your unpleasant little publication) by taking part in it.”

Keep in mind, kind readers: Gunson – “stupid enough” to have gotten caught in two undisclosed conflicts of interest this year regarding his Venezuela reporting - demands answers from others as a reporter. But when he’s asked questions, he turns into the proverbial guy who tries to cover the camera with his hands. Ekvall, last June, sicked Michael Rowan on me from Ekvall’s email address, demanding that I answer their questions – I answered them forthrightly, of course, not having anything to hide. But turn the table, and these guys become whining defensive hypocrites.

2. Both Gunson and Ekvall, in lieu of offering full disclosure, chose instead to play make-believe psychiatrists (this was my favorite part of their spin)…

Gunson: “I really don't know what unresolved childhood traumas lie behind your desperate need to be taken seriously and to bring other people down. And I have neither the time, the inclination nor the professional skills to help you get over them.”

Ekvall: “I understand the business about the absent, irresponsible, derelict-in-his-duties father, and how this can lead to persecution-cum-crusader complexes, and how the whole stew entrains this zealous desire to trash authority under all its guises.... In short, I can relate.”

Huh? I never mentioned my childhood or other such personal matters to either of these guys. Why would I? I think Ekvall probably bases that on my mention last summer, in an essay on Eminem, that like many people I’m the product of a single-mom household. The rest of his fantasy he can look up in his self-help books under the word “projection.”

Gunson, meanwhile, outdoes even Ekvall on the “projection” front: He spent April and December of this year trying to take down an elected president by creating the simulated conditions for a coup d’etat, but he accuses me of trying “to bring other people down.”

Oh, right, I forgot: This is Wonderland: So that's why I'm smiling like the Cheshire Cat?

3. Deepening their practice of pop-psychology, both Ekvall and Gunson wrote me out prescriptions for their diagnoses:

Ekvall: “you ought to get more sleep, relax, go for a walk, play the guitar more (I'm a guitar player myself), listen a little less to Eminem and a little more to, oh, The Incredible String Band, for example.”

Gunson: “First of all, you really need to start taking yourself less seriously. Self-importance combined with paranoia can lead to stress-related diseases. Chill out a little. I've come across people like you before, Al, though never in such an advanced stage of decomposition. The trouble with the internet is that it gives ignorant loudmouths a platform to address the whole world.”

Kind reader, did you catch that hostility to the Internet – and most people who use it - on Gunson’s part? “The trouble with the internet,” he complains, “is that it gives ignorant loudmouths a platform to address the whole world.”

Actually, Gunson should know, the whole world tunes in or out as it wishes. To read something on the World Wide Web, you have to actively go look for it. When millions of readers have looked for and found Narco News, its not as if our coverage has been forced upon them; they tune in here voluntarily.

Gunson clearly misses the good old days, when simulating reporters like him could control the story as Power wanted it told from any Third World outpost. The real “trouble with the Internet” is that it has provided all of us with more ability to scrutinize Gunson’s (and others') knowingly false reports, and to correct them. (The Internet also led us to discover him in the act of an undisclosed relationship with political consultant Ekvall… well, understandable that Gunson neither likes nor understands the Internet, especially not this month.)

Listen to their elitism: The world was a better place without the Internet nor Eminem, they say: Violent coups d’etat, good; Internet and rap music, bad. Wonderland, indeed!

It’s also a distinctly elitist form of speaking in “code” to dismiss working-class or poor critics with psychobabble, and thus avoid the merits of the critique. The problem for them is that their "code" is well understood by the working and poor majorities in every land.

Well, anyway, Narco News has sure got the hornet’s nest stirred up. These guys are like a tea-party salon full of blue-haired old biddies when a mouse runs in the room: all up on their chairs screaming!

4. Ekvall and Gunson, while describing Narco News as so “little” and “laughingstock” as not to matter, then portrayed themselves as victims being “bullied” and “picked on” by The Little Website That Could.

Gunson: “are you brave enough to publish this in full? or are you just a playground bully?”

Ekvall: “Go find someone else to pick on.”

Jeez, these guys are sensitive. Ya can’t touch ‘em even with the petal of a rose without hearing their pitched screams.

Well, kind reader, you can read their words below, in full and uncensored.

I urge you to give careful reading, as well, to my questions to Gunson – the questions he is afraid to answer.

Remember these questions next time you read anything by Phil Gunson. In any case, reading Gunson through an educated lens will provide you with a pretty good indicator of the day’s spin by pro-coup political consultant Erik Ekvall.

The dimmer bulbs of the Commercial Correspondents Caste of Caracas have their panties all up in a bunch over Narco News. Hooray and Merry Christmas! To that we say: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Open Letter and Questions to Phil Gunson

Thursday, December 19, 2002



To: Phil Gunson

CC: Mario Renato Menéndez Rodríguez, Por Esto!,
Cynthia Cotts, the Village Voice,
Dan Kennedy, the Boston Phoenix,
Lucy Komisar, American Reporter,
Luis Gómez, Narco News,
Dan Feder, Narco News,
Salón Chingón, somewhere in a country called América,

(All of the above individuals and groups know what “embargoed” means and, I strongly believe, will respect that)

Dear Phil Gunson,

Thank you, again, for your letter, and for agreeing to an interview by email.

Your reports over the past month from Venezuela for the Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC (online only), and the Miami Herald – the daily newspaper of coup plotters and oligarchs throughout Latin America – and the interviews you granted last week to NPR and WAMU radio, have raised many questions about you and your work.

Some of these questions began last April, after your “report” in the St. Petersburg Times became the basis for many “statements of fact” that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s supporters shot at demonstrators from rooftops on April 11, 2002.

Your report caused a lot of bloodshed. If your report was knowingly false, well, let the heavens fall and the truth be known.

This is your opportunity to clear the air.

I plan on publishing these questions on Monday, December 23, 2002.

You are of course invited to provide answers before or after that date, and I will publish your response, uncensored, whenever you send it.

According to my information and belief, all of these questions are based on accurate information. If you feel that any of these questions are based on incorrect information, I invite you to submit proposed corrections prior to Monday, December 23, 2002, at 10 a.m. eastern standard time. I think I’m being very fair with you to make you that offer.

By way of introducing this Q & A, I want to preface my questions with the kind of full disclosure on my part that I am now going to ask from you.

There are some matters that are very important to this hemisphere and I, like you, have opinions on them. I don’t claim “objectivity,” and I distrust “journalists” who claim it, because they indicate from the get-go that they are not reporting accurately on the subject they should know best: them selves.

The only truly ethical position for journalists is to disclose our biases.

So, I’ll tell you, Phil Gunson, right off the bat: I favor democracy. I favor fair and free elections. I agree with all the major national and international monitoring and human rights organizations that have rated the six Venezuelan elections of the past four years as fair and free. Regarding Venezuela elections of the past four years, there’s no question of that fairness, not in the way that there are lingering questions and controversies over the “elections” in Colombia or even in the United States.

I also believe that coups d’etat have left a long dark shadow over América for the past 30 years. Perhaps my opinion on this was formed early in life when I attended Georgetown University with Juan Pablo Letelier, whose father, Chilean minister Orlando Letelier, as you know, or should know, was assassinated in Washington DC as part of an ongoing coup.

I don’t understand how any human being or journalist could not be biased, or disclose his or her bias, about whether he or she is for or against such brutal crimes against humanity.

Coups d’etat by the elites have resulted to be the single most damaging factor against authentic democracy, human rights, civil rights and liberties, press freedom, and political participation, by the marginalized poor and working majorities, in América. Even the threat of coup is harmful to all these values, because it creates an atmosphere of fear that makes authentic democratic participation impossible. I am not impartial about coups – whether imposed by military, economic or media elites – I oppose them, tooth and nail, with the best antidote to coups: the facts and the truth.

I disclose these views to my readers every day I publish. They know where I stand. There’s no confusion there. And this has led to a wonderful relationship of trust and credibility between my readers and I, and the large number of colleagues in journalism who have publicly – not just privately – endorsed, praised, or openly quoted from my work.

I don’t see the same level of disclosure on your part, and some of my questions are aimed at giving you the opportunity to disclose. Believe me: you’ll feel much better about yourself when you do disclose.

Our mutual friend Lucy Komisar wrote me noting that you worked in Central America in the 1980s. Like you, I was in Central America in the 1980s. Like you, I have reported from Mexico and Venezuela. Like you, I have reported from other Latin American countries. I have also reported extensively on courts, crime and politics within the United States. I have reported extensively from Capitol Hill and about many elections. I know how political consultants try to spin reporters from Washington to Caracas to other American capitals.

The top political consultants know, from experience, that they can’t spin me. You can talk to Democrat James Carville, or Republican Mary Matalin, to Republican Ron Kaufmann, or Democrat Mike Whouley, or any of scores of other spin-doctors active in the United States. And you can suggest to them, as you suggest in your letter to me, that I am somehow “parroting” anybody’s “line” but my own, and these giants of spin who can’t agree with each other on lunch will universally laugh at you and mock you for such an absurd and ignorant accusation. Go ahead: I invite you to ask around. I’ve been through that fire. I’m a known quantity. You’re not a known quantity. If you’re an honest man, you’ll retract such a snide self-serving accusation.

If my views end up corresponding with those voiced by any party to a conflict, it’s because they are my views, independently and skeptically formed by investigating the facts. I don’t care who agrees with me, or who does not. I do care that I agree with my conscience. You should try that sometime, Phil.

I also believe, based on my long experience, that there are two kinds of reporters: Those that don’t know better, and those that should know better. Reporters like you and me have clearly been around long enough that we can’t plead ignorance of basic realities. To that extent, I expect more from someone like you, who worked in Latin America for years and should know the score. You’re not in the category of someone like Alexandra Olson of AP who may or may not just be naïve and unaware of the consequences of her shallow undisclosed and hateful biases. After all these years Phil, if you don’t know what your biases are, you should know. And you should disclose them. Now is the time.

Think of these following questions as a wonderful opportunity for Phil Gunson to come clean.

Now I’ll begin with my questions.

Q. Your letter to me of yesterday, December 18, 2002, was CCed to political consultant Erik Ekvall, a partisan player during last April’s coup attempt, and also during this most recent coup attempt in December. Quick, before Ekvall has a chance to answer for you: Why did you send Ekvall a copy of your supposedly personal correspondence?

Q. It is well known among the reporters covering Venezuela in the category of “those who should know better” that Ekvall is a player for one side of the conflict, the anti-democracy side: Ekvall, to my knowledge, and I’ve offered him the chance to deny it without response, is a consultant to the Ford Motor Company (PUBLISHER’S UPDATE: Ekvall did respond, after this letter was sent, and informs that he’s an ex-consultant to Ford, a gig he left on March 15, 2002; he offered no other corrections or clarifications), a former consultant to PdVSA – the Venezuela state oil company – and part of the group ousted by the Chávez government: Someone clearly with an axe to grind; someone well known to reporters as a pathologically dishonest person and who openly defends coups d’etat and tries to spin or fool the press toward his mercenary view. What role does Erik Ekvall have as a party in a letter you sent that billed itself as a letter from one journalist to another?

Q. You’re obviously aware of Ekvall’s partisan pro-coup role in the events of April 2002: You quoted him back then, in an April 15, 2002, article in the St. Petersburg Times. You called Ekvall “a longtime American political analyst in Caracas,” as if he were simply an impartial “analyst” and not a partisan player with his own interests and axes to grind. You quoted him without disclosing that he had been a consultant to PdVSA, the very agency he was commenting on that day. And you quoted him with an obviously partisan statement, complaining that Chávez “thinks he can get away with anything.” Now you have CCed Ekvall an email that purports itself as a discussion between journalistic colleagues. Don’t you think that looks a little strange, Phil, to include a partisan political consultant, known for his pro-coup mercenary position, as a party to your letter to Narco News? Please explain what role he has in this conversation.

Q. Sorry to ask forward questions – this form of conducting interviews has helped strengthen my reputation for never being successfully spun by anyone – but, I ask: Do you use Ekvall as your own volunteer political consultant? Or does he use you as “his” reporter? In other words, are you now in “damage control” mode after your embarrassing performance of December and are you now having him review even your personal correspondence? Is Ekvall the individual who forwarded your email to others like Lucy Komisar? Or was that somebody else? Is he now your own personal spin-doctor? (And, if so, why don’t you choose somebody more talented, effective, and credible than the widely discredited Ekvall? After all: a political consultant who is pro-coup and hostile to democracy can and should become a liability to anyone’s campaign in the present and future.)

Phil, I don’t mind that you CC him or anyone else. I just think that if you are going to call yourself a journalist you must disclose this obviously too-close-for-comfort relationship you have with Ekvall, and the reasons for it. Please disclose the nature of your relationship with Ekvall that is so close that you include him as a party to your correspondence with another journalist. Do you think that serious journalists make partisan political consultants a party to their correspondence with other journalists without explaining why? Don’t you think that gives him a power over you that should be unethical for any journalist to allow?

Q. Now let’s move on to another player in the Venezuela conflict who you quoted at a very key moment in history last April: Eurídice Ledezma. You know Eurídice, don’t you? I understand that Richard Gott’s book – sorry, I don’t have a copy, but is that true or not? - about Venezuela and Chávez alludes to this undisclosed relationship. What is the nature of your relationship – past or present – with Ms. Ledezma?

Q. On April 12, 2002, again in the St. Pete Times, you quoted Ms. Ledezma on the coup-day events in Caracas:

"’No one was expecting it. It was an ambush,’ said local journalist Eurídice Ledezma, who described seeing plain-clothed snipers firing from the roof of the Caracas town hall, a bastion of government supporters.”

Eurídice Ledezma was your sole source for your story that blamed the sniper attacks of April 11th – the provocation that was used to justify a coup d’etat – on government supporters and as such her words became the basis for repeated claims all over the world, including among corporate “press freedom” groups, that the gunfire came from “a bastion of government supporters.”

Eurídice Ledezma even claimed to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in New York that the bullet that took the life of journalist Jorge Tortoza was fired from City Hall. Wow. What incredible eyesight she must have! It’s particularly impressive – I’m speaking sarcastically and indignantly (of course I’m not impressed) – now that everybody acknowledges that shots were fired from many directions during that massacre.

Your undisclosed friend Eurídice Ledezma spun you that “plain-clothed snipers” fired the shots.

A day later, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York quoted the same Eurídice Ledezma claiming that a “military sniper” shot our colleague Tortoza.

Did you ever ask your friend Eurídice Ledezma which type of person fired the shot? Was it a “military sniper”? Or was it a “plain-clothed sniper”? It can’t be both, can it, Phil? Or was she just making it up to cause the justification for a coup?

Subsequently, journalists who are hardly friends of the Chávez administration, such as those at the daily Tal Cual, documented that the gunshots came from various buildings, including a hotel. Certain facts are undisputed: Some of the gunmen were apprehended that day by the Chávez government’s law enforcement authorities and they were held in detention. Later that day, Chávez was deposed by the coup d’etat, and Pedro Carmona was named as the un-elected dictator. It was during Carmona’s brief rule that those gunmen were set free. In retrospect, if those gunmen had really been “Chavistas,” do you believe that Carmona’s regime would have set them free? What is your explanation for why the coup set the sniper-assassins free? That should be interesting.

Q. Why didn’t you disclose on that terrible day that your sole uncorroborated source to imply blame for those tragic assassinations on one side of the conflict has been someone you’ve identified to others as your “former girlfriend”? Those are your words, aren’t they?

Q. As the self-proclaimed “former boyfriend” of Eurídice Ledezma, you of course had to know that she was a rabidly partisan player already in the conflict. The magazine she works for, Exceso, is an ultra right wing rag of zero credibility, explicitly anti-democracy in its editorial position. Is this the same Eurídice Ledezma who later praised Dictator-for-a-Day Pedro Carmona in the same Exceso magazine, writing, “I don’t believe that Pedro would have formed part of a conspiracy for the route of a military coup”? Note the first-name basis with our dear dictator “Pedro.” ¡Guácala!

She also wrote, “he didn’t commit a crime.” Uh, Phil, reality-check time: Pedro Carmona abolished Congress, the Supreme Court and the Constitution: If your friend and foundation-stone source for all the disinformation that stemmed from your April 12th report has as cloudy a sense of perception as that statement reveals, and you already knew this person, how could you have been so spun by her? Well, okay, this Eurídice Ledezma was with you years ago in Mexico, wasn’t she? Please correct me if I am in error, but I don’t think that I am.

Beyond your dishonest failure to disclose your personal relationship with your source (Uh, Phil, journalistic careers rightfully go up in smoke over that kind of maneuver) why didn’t you disclose her known partisan position when quoting her on something so incendiary as an implication that the bullets came from one party in the conflict?

Q. Given the fact that this dishonest implication then spread around the world before the truth could put its pants on, and had horrible consequences for the turn of events – justifying a coup that assassinated 50 opposition leaders in two days, and tortured various of them according to major human rights organizations; a coup that within hours abolished Congress, the Supreme Court and the Constitution’s rule – why have you never clarified, corrected or disclosed the whole truth about your April 12th report?

Q. As a veteran reporter, were you somehow not aware of what the consequences of that simulated “report” and its lack of disclosure subsequently created the conditions that led to the assassinations of at least 50 Venezuelans?

Q. Phil: As Authentic Journalist Mario Menéndez – my friend and victorious co-defendant - often says, people’s true character emerges during times of moral crisis. April 2002 revealed a lot about all of us who are journalists reporting on Venezuela. December 2002 turns out to be a grand “second opinion” as the doctors say. You don’t really come out of this lookin’ so good, chap.

Moving on from April – your ghost of Christmas past - to December – your ghost of Christmas present – and your expressed concern about one-sidedness in reporting (which seems hollow in light of these allegations, let’s look at some of your own public statements in recent days.

Let’s take a hard look at your comments made last week, December 12th, via telephone interview on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU in Washington. The very elegant and fabulous Diane Rehm opened the interview by asking you to “describe for us, if you can, what’s going on.”

You replied that, “the country is virtually in a halt. In fact I was just writing here that in a way President Chávez is like one of those cartoon characters who run off the edge of cliffs and all of a sudden find that there’s nothing beneath their feet.”

Three days later, Letta Taylor, Latin American correspondent for Newsday, quoted another partisan political actor in Venezuela, Janet Kelly: "’Remember those cartoons with Sylvester and Tweety Bird, or the Road Runner?’ asked Janet Kelly, a Caracas-based political analyst. ‘There's a moment when they run over the canyon and are suspended in air and look at the audience as they suddenly realize they're going to fall. That's Chávez.’"

To be fair, that statement appeared very shortly after your own, but it does raise an eyebrow or two, because smart political consultants don’t, in my long experience with them, just steal quotes from journalists without attributing them. They have to work with us, after all: The professionals take every opportunity to credit us when they quote from us. So I must ask: Who is ghostwriting for who? Are you the original author of that simile? Or is political consultant Janet Kelly? Or is there perhaps some other author ghostwriting for both of you?

Q. Do you know Janet Kelly? Please disclose the nature of any relationship you have with that political consultant who sings in such cartoon-loving harmony with you.

Q. If you are, in fact, the real author of that cartoon simile, are you going to take any action against Ms. Kelly for copyright infringement without attribution?

Q. About the simile itself: No matter who authored it, or who took dictation, what did you mean by, “Chávez is like one of those cartoon characters who run off the edge of cliffs and all of a sudden find that there’s nothing beneath their feet”?

Q. If powerful economic forces like the Commercial Media, the overpaid ex-managers of the state owned oil company, or others, try to push someone “off the edge of cliffs” how does this simile work in which you claim that someone had “run” off the cliff?

Q. I know these are essentially literary questions, but we’re both writers, Phil, please indulge and educate me: What did you mean by the idea that Chávez “all of a sudden find(s) that there’s nothing beneath their (sic) feet?”

Q. Has it not been shown, again in December as in April, that Chávez has the Organization of American States, the Venezuelan Constitution, and significant masses of the people behind his survival as elected president? Suddenly even the New York Times editorial position is beneath his feet! Beep beep! Do you think, now, a week later, that your (or Janet’s) simile – with which you led your MSNBC (online only) story – didn’t quite describe what has truly happened in recent days? Does this perhaps suggest to you that your political analysis has, ahem, been incorrect in this month of December? How did you get steered so far from reality?

Q. Moving on – in your same December 12 interview with Diane Rehm – you said:

“Chavez is making no secret of the fact that he’s seeking to impose ah what he calls the a revolution which is a strange kind of - as an editor of mine called it the other day - kind of gaseous concoction of kind of half-digested Marxism with some military nationalism thrown in, even a couple of strands of fascism, and this is something that really I think most of the Venezuelan people feel that they didn’t sign up for when they voted for him in 98 and again in 2000. Uh, they finally realized that he’s serious about this and uh they want to get rid of him before he has a chance to implement it.”

I have a number of questions about this statement. The first is: Who was the “editor of yours” who demonstrated such a bizarre uneducated bias to his or her writer? Was it an editor from Coup Plotters’ Daily (The Miami Herald)? Or was it an editor from another of the companies you work for? Which one?

Q. Phil, do you really think that you used the F-word – “fascism” – in a responsible or accurate manner in this case?

After all, most reasonable people don’t consider a country that has had six fair and free elections over four years, with zero journalists in jail (except for a Community Radio journalist, Nicolas Rivera, tortured and kidnapped by rogue pro-coup Municipal Police forces last June; but you’ve never reported that most serious attack on press freedom, have you?), where even April’s known coup plotters walk the streets in freedom, to be somehow “fascist” at all?

To the contrary, Phil, most reasonable people would consider the actions of the Dictator-for-a-Day of last April, Pedro Carmona, to have been those of a truly fascist regime. The fascist behavior in Venezuela has been on the part of the owning class, not of the elected government. Fascist behavior could certainly be observed in the behavior of the previous Venezuelan regimes, in the massacre of 1989 committed by then-President Carlos Andres Peres, now one of the “opposition leaders” trying to destabilize democracy in today’s Venezuela. Do you think you showed your grand self-proclaimed impartiality and wisdom by bandying about the word “fascism” in that context the other day on United States radio? And if so, why?

Q. As a journalist, I must ask you: If you have an editor who uses the word “fascism” in such an irresponsible and partisan manner, do you really think this editor would allow you to report the whole truth? Or do you tailor your “reports” to meet the ignorant and incendiary bias of your boss in this case? C’mon, Phil, we’re both experienced journalists. We both know how it works. I’m my own editor now: I don’t have that problem. But you do still have that problem, don’t you? So how do you deal with such an irresponsible editor if you want to tell the truth?

Q. You also said – and I’m amazed at how many distortions you are able to squeeze into a single phrase – that Chávez seeks to “impose” a “revolution.” Is “impose” the right verb for someone working within a framework of an elected legislature and working Constitution? Did you mean to say “propose” instead of “impose”? And if not, please, by all means, explain why.

Q. You also said in that same statement that you “think most of the Venezuelan people feel that they didn’t sign up for (a revolution) when they voted for him in 98 and again in 2000.” Ahem. Are you trying to say that Chávez didn’t use the word “revolution” and similar rhetoric in his 1998 campaign? Are you claiming that he didn’t do it again in his 2000 campaign? Are you claiming that he didn’t do it again in the four other election campaigns of the past four years? My memory – and the archived record – indicates that he used that language from the beginning to end, that the voters heard it loud and clear and signed up for it at the ballot box six times in four years. You knew that, didn’t you, Phil?

And here is where we return to my point about “journalists who should know better.” You also know, or should know, that the average Washington DC radio listener, to whom you spoke to in that interview, was probably not aware of those details. And this is why I think you are a simulator and no longer a “journalist”: You know, or should know, the effect that your distortions have on people in foreign lands who may not be following the situation as closely as those of us who know the score. And you still chose to distort instead of report. Why should any reader or listener trust you when you go to such acrobatic leaps, as one who should know better, to fool those who may not know better?

Q. Diane Rehm, the radio host, fortunately, was not fooled by your antics, was she? She asked you: “But Chavez does have support among the poor?” And you answered that, “most of his remaining support is concentrated among the poor, that’s true, he possibly has according to opinion polls somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of the electorate. But I think it’s wrong to analyze it just in terms of a rich and poor battle. But when you remember that something like 65% of Venezuelans are living in poverty – and incidentally that figure has risen since Chavez came to power – um then you realize that its not the case that all his opponents are among the rich.”

This is also in the category of a situation in which you either know, or should know, better. As a reporter with experience in Latin America, you know, first, that polls down here are more often than not inaccurate, invented, and one of the ways that the rich manipulate the poor. You also know, or should know, that accurate polling in countries where the majority of people don’t have telephones is virtually impossible. You also know, or should know, that the same commercial media pollsters who release such “polls” predicted Chávez’s defeat in 1998. They were wrong then as now. You also know, or should know, that at least one major pollster in Venezuela told the Los Angeles Times this year that he wanted Chávez to be assassinated, and that the “polling class,” in its parasitical and historic oligarchic relationships with the Commercial Media owning class and the old political class – and coup-mongers like your pal Ekvall – is part of the same simulation machine.

You also know, or should know, that accurate polling in a polarized country, where a dictator – Pedro Carmona – and his still at-large brownshirts from Alfredo Peña’s municipal police and those of other “opposition” mayors and governors, had recently – last April - rounded up, tortured, illegally arrested and assassinated many individuals on one side of the conflict.

Who, in their right mind, Phil, is going to tell a total stranger from a suspect elitist polling company that they support Chávez when the penalty for others who have said so has death at the hands of coup plotters?

Q. But just for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that poll, showing 36% (not 25 to 30 as you claimed) support for Chávez, even under those adverse conditions, is somehow accurate. We both know it’s not, but let’s just play along with it, for kicks. What if it were true? Mark Weisbrot has made an interesting historic parallel. On that same radio show, where he said he found your stance “ominous,” Weisbrot noted that in 1983, during a recession in the United States, President Ronald Reagan’s support in U.S. public opinion polls sank to 36%. A year later, Reagan was re-elected by a landslide. Polls are not elections. Is it fair to call for coup d’etat based on commercial polling numbers?

Q. Also on the Diane Rehm show, you said, and I quote:

“I believe that the only way that Chavez will eventually leave is when the armed forces tell him to do so as they did back in April.”

Let’s have some full disclosure, Phil: You’re talking about a coup d’etat. Are you in favor? Or are you opposed to the scenario you outlined? Your words certainly sounded like those of a cheerleader.

I disclose to my readers and public where I stand. I am opposed to that scenario of military coup cheered by Phil Gunson on WAMU. You owe your readers and your public a similar disclosure. For the record: Where do you stand?

Q. You also said, in that same interview, that “the Venezuelans are going to have to do it themselves and unfortunately the president will not listen to anyone except the military.”

That sounds like a pretty clear statement of what you favor. And if listeners got the wrong impression, I offer you the opportunity to correct that statement. Was that statement an accurate portrayal of your position? And, if not, what will you do to correct it?

Q. You made similar statements, two days earlier, on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program. There, on December 10th, you said, “last night what we saw was perhaps the worst example so far of something, a phenomenon that we’ve seen before, which is concerted attacks on different media organizations by mobs that are clearly organized by the government. For example, the mobs in most places were led by deputies, by congresspeople, belonging to the ruling party. And in the middle of the, ah, these activities, these attacks, the interior minister went on television basically justifying them.”

I’m going to tell it to you straight, Phil. I think you reveal some very disturbing and undemocratic weaknesses both as a journalist and as a human being in that statement.

First, you call public protests that, at least in Caracas, were peaceful, “attacks on different media organizations by mobs.”

Do you think that the people should not have the right to demonstrate outside of private-sector institutions like Commercial TV stations? And if you feel that way, why don’t you? And if not, why do you distort the news by calling a peaceful assembly an “attack”?

Q. You also stated that these “mobs” were “clearly organized by the government.” You are aware, or should be aware, of facts to the contrary.

For example, on public Internet sites for days prior to December 9th, there were various calls and a major open letter by at least 20 Venezuelan community groups addressed to Chávez demanding that he revoke the licenses of the distorting Commercial TV stations. Chávez didn’t do that. The people were frustrated. They were asking their government for help against a destabilizing and dishonest commercial media tyranny of the airwaves, and the Chávez government did not respond.

In my analysis – as someone who is in daily contact with many of those people from Civil Society who are not government officials – the masses got ahead of the government on this one, and the Chávez government could not hold them back. At those demonstrations they were chanting, demanding: “Chávez: Govern!” They were angry at him, too, for allowing the pro-coup manipulations of Globovision, of Venevision, of RCTV, and the rest. In any case, their open letter and other public demands for action by Chávez prior to those demonstrations are archived on the Internet.

I also saw, on live TV, the statement by Diosdado Cabello of the Chávez government, urging people to be peaceful, to be nonviolent. To the contrary of your fabricated explanation to the United States public, Phil, he was not there “justifying” the protests (as if protests need justifying): He was there pleading for peace, for no one to harm anyone else. And no human life was harmed, was it?

The only evidence you cite for your claim that the “mobs” were “clearly organized by the government” other than Cabello’s speech, was the presence of members of Congress. Phil: I’ve covered members of Congress in many lands. They see a crowd moving, they go to join it: That is, after all, part of their job. They’re from the legislative branch of government, not the executive. They have every right to protest at TV stations, too!

Phil, don’t you think that you’ve gone off the deep end with your “conspiracy theory” view of the situation? You transparently state that any action by any poor person, worker, and now legislator, against coups and media distortion, is “organized by the government.”

I think, with these statements, you reveal a tremendous rich kid’s bias against the poor. And that, given the difference in pigmentation between you and so many of the Venezuelan poor, I think you have to address your own inherent racism and class hatred.

Please don’t answer “but some of my best friends are dark-skinned Venezuelans.” You either know better, or should know better. The oligarchy in Venezuela, now that the poor aren’t willing to be slaves any more, are, truly, suffering psychological problems. Don’t kid yourself: as a British freelance correspondent for powerful newspapers in the United States, you are, by definition, a member of the Caracas oligarchy as much as any foreign Viceroy throughout history. You have privilege and power that the individual members of those “mobs” (your words, not mine) have never known. And with statements like the ones you’ve made, you’re demonstrating to the world that you have become a member of an oligarchy that has always included foreigners like Ekvall and you. Why do you call the opposition demonstrators “protestors” and the other side “mobs”? What is the distinction that defines each term?

Q. Do you think that maybe it’s time for you to take one of those racism sensitivity courses that are all the rage at First World newspapers these days? I would be happy to contribute to any costs involved. As one journo to another, as one human being to another, I think you need it badly if you are going to continue in this profession, particularly in Latin America where these matters or race and class are finally coming to light as never before.

Q. Why do you repeatedly say, in almost all of your articles, that an owner and management imposed lockout is somehow a “General Strike”? Do you understand the historic and common definition of that term?

Q. Why have you not reported on the collapse of that misnamed “strike” as stores have reopened throughout the country and Christmas shoppers are bustling through the streets and malls?

I have other questions, but perhaps this is enough for now.

Some of my questions contain, of course, my opinions that you are free to contest or counter with your own opinions. But I think that you do owe specific answers to each question.

I feel I am being very fair to you by showing you the text of this letter prior to publication, to give you every opportunity to speak to the issues, facts and opinions expressed. I am also willing to publish your response to these questions in full and uncensored form.

If I don’t hear from you by Monday 10 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, I will post the questions exactly as they are written here. If you feel that any of the questions must be amended based on corrections of fact, I think four days is sufficient time for you to respond. To my belief, these opinions I express here are based on what my sources have told me, and on publicly available information.

You’re a veteran: You know that four days is a very reasonable amount of time to respond. We all have our deadlines. Of course, you may also respond after Monday if you wish – the door will be held open – but the questions will be published on Monday.

And, believe me, the people in many lands are going to want answers. Please, if you still call yourself a journalist, provide them in the spirit of full disclosure.


Al Giordano
The Narco News Bulletin

Uncensored “response” from
freelance reporter Phil Gunson:

>From: ""
>Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 09:32:13 -0400

are you brave enough to publish this in full? or are you just a playground bully?

Full text of attachment:


Here is my response to your "interview questions". Please keep your promise and publish it in full.

First of all, you really need to start taking yourself less seriously. Self-importance combined with paranoia can lead to stress-related diseases. Chill out a little.

I've come across people like you before, Al, though never in such an advanced stage of decomposition. The trouble with the internet is that it gives ignorant loudmouths a platform to address the whole world.

Fortunately, grown-ups know that only in the school playground is something "truer" if you shout it louder and use more bad words.

Your techniques are the lie, the half-truth, the smear, and guilt by association. Although the two Joes (McCarthy and Stalin) are long dead, their techniques live on.

I'm not stupid enough to lend credence to your show-trial (or your unpleasant little publication) by taking part in it. No one whose opinion matters to me would mistake you for a genuine seeker-after-truth.

You presume to lecture us about journalistic ethics, but you don't even have the minimal courtesy to stick to your own "embargo". So much for your "generous offer" to take my comments into account.

A cursory glance at your ill-informed, poorly-researched attempts to tell us what is "really" going on in Venezuela reveals you to be a purveyor of half-digested propaganda. Why not come out from behind your desk (which, of course, happens to be in another country) and feel the tear-gas and the plastic bullets?

On second thoughts: stay well away. Your mind is made up - we wouldn't want to bother you with the facts. After all, they get in the way of a good story, don't they?

After nearly a quarter-century writing and broadcasting about Latin America, I'm perfectly happy to let my record stand for itself. No self-appointed thought-policeman can tell people what to think about me.

I really don't know what unresolved childhood traumas lie behind your desperate need to be taken seriously and to bring other people down. And I have neither the time, the inclination nor the professional skills to help you get over them.

Being libelled by you is - in the immortal words of British Labour politician Dennis Healey - like being savaged by a dead sheep.

Go right ahead. Give it your best shot. Just don't send me any more emails. This correspondence is over.

Phil Gunson

Full text of Gunson’s first
letter to Narco News…

>From: "Phil Gunson"
>CC: Eric Ekvall
>Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 18:15:40 -0400

dear narco news,

your contributions to the important and necessary critique of foreign press coverage of venezuela would carry much more weight if you didn't fall into the trap of repeating government propaganda as if it were the "true" story the media are suppressing.

both sides use evidence-free claims of evil conspiracies by the other - and expect us to swallow them uncritically. it's often hard to sift through this garbage and find anything resembling the "truth" of what's going on.

for instance, the government's line that its opponents are all a bunch of well-heeled fascists whose "strike" is merely a cover for a coup plot is as much of an exaggeration as the opposition claim that the entire country is united against the "dictator" chavez.

the fact that one or two government spokesmen have claimed that gouveia was paid by the opposition doesn't turn it into a "credible theory" - especially when the only impartial evidence we have (including that from gouveia's former landlords) suggests he had links with the government.

the fact that the metropolitan police shot pro-chavez demonstrators after 11 april - while true enough - should be a reason for pursuing them through the courts, not sending the army to take over the police (thereby violating the constitution and worsening an already chronic crime situation in caracas).

your version of what is "really" happening in venezuela merely parrots the government's - and that's not good enough. this is the same government that (for instance) covered up the presence of montesinos in venezuela, for reasons that are still unclear. it is a government that repeatedly violates its own constitution, whilst constantly proclaiming it to be the finest in the world.

so come on, narco news - you can do better than that. criticise us by all means. but don't use the very methods you despise (sloppy, one-sided reporting) in order to do it.

saludos from caracas

Phil Gunson
(freelance correspondent)

Responses from political
consultant Erik Ekvall:

>From: "Eric Ekvall"
>CC: "Phil Gunson"
>Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 09:34:16 -0400

>Get your facts straight (again), Al -- Phil's been living here for almost
>three years.

Giordano’s first reply to Ekvall:

From: "Alberto M. Giordano"
Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2002 9:52 AM

Duly noted.

Glad to hear you don't contest the facts from this paragraph:

"Interestingly, the only person he visibly CCed his letter to was Erik Ekvall, the April 2002 war criminal, political consultant hostile to democracy, former advisor to the state owned oil company, and, last I checked, consultant to the Ford Motor Company (at least during last April's coup attempt). Ekvall is the spin-doctor who popped up in last April's NYT puff piece by Juan Forero on Dictator-for-a-Day Pedro Carmona, defending the cretin who abolished Congress, the Supreme Court and the Constitution all in one day."

Ekvall’s response to Giordano’s
reply, Cced to Michael Rowan:

>From: "Eric Ekvall"
>CC: "Michael Rowan"
>Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 19:01:58 -0400

Fact: I resigned the Ford account March 15. (But to a devious, paranoid, seeing-fascists-under-every-rug mindset such as yours, I suppose this is just additional confirmation that by March 15 I was deeply involved in planning the April 11 coup, and for the purpose of protecting my "sponsors" and maintaining appearances, was attempting to sideline my erstwhile client from negative exposure by resigning only weeks before.)

The rest isn't "facts", just your opinion. And opinions, as you know, are like assholes.....

Al, I assume that making the world safe for anarchy (you flatter yourself as an anarchist, I see) and an eventual dictatorship of the proletariat (or "the masses" -- your preferred term for what I think of as citizens), requires nonstop vigilance, but IMHO you ought to get more sleep, relax, go for a walk, play the guitar more (I'm a guitar player myself), listen a little less to Eminem and a little more to, oh, The Incredible String Band, for example.

The rage, the vitriol, the bile -- that all-consuming hate that permeates so much of what you write -- it's not good for the soul. I understand the business about the absent, irresponsible, derelict-in-his-duties father, and how this can lead to persecution-cum-crusader complexes, and how the whole stew entrains this zealous desire to trash authority under all its guises.... In short, I can relate. But history doesn't have to be destiny. And this kind of stuff clouds the mind.

If it's any comfort to you, the same thing is happening to Chavez. In fact, the Savonarola-like tactics and language you use against those you've targeted for "clean-up" (your words) remind me of something a close ally and collaborator of Chavez, who finally jumped ship in disgust earlier this year, said of his erstwhile idol: "Poor Hugo, he doesn't know how to distinguish adversaries from enemies."

And, this one is really from the heart: despite what is probably a slavish following among the don't-confuse-me-with-the-facts-my-mind's-made-up "left", who, in their ignorance, believe that the enemy (Chavez) of my enemy (The White House/US foreign policy/globalization/Israel/multinational corporations/WTO/you-name-it) is my friend, you're in the process of becoming an international laughingstock with your Comintern-speak, scorched-earth support of what has become the most corrupt and brazenly authoritarian regime in Latin America. The truth of his regime will come out, and sooner than later. Patience, Al.

It's too bad, because the initial objectives (as I understand them) of NN were to give no quarter to the immoral, corrupt, nonsensical and counterproductive 30+ -year USA-sponsored War on Drugs. Now that's a cause worth fighting for. Why don't you focus more on that, where at least you seem to understand the basics and have proven your mettle under fire? Because on Venezuela, you're way, way out of the ballpark, amigo.


Giordano’s response to Ekvall:

Heh. Touched a defensive chord there, eh?

In sum: You refuse to disclose your sources of income, but expect to be believed in your characterizations of them.

You sound like a consultant with plenty to hide, Ekvall.

You're also quite paranoid. I have no statuatory power, no police, no prison, no guns, none of the instruments necessary for what reasonable people define as Inquisition, jury, prosecutor, commissar, whatever (and you think I'm the paranoid one? Ha! You slay me!). All I've got is words, and the only ones that hurt are the true ones.

Anyway, you can blame Gunson. He dragged you into this round. And implicated himself in unethical activity for a journalist by doing so.

Ekvall the War Criminal feels "picked on," by nothin' more than words and questions. Amazing, but not surprising.

Have a nice Christmas. In spite of all your efforts, it came this year!

Al Giordano

Ekvall’s “final” response
(also Cced to Michael Rowan):

From: "Eric Ekvall"
CC: "Michael Rowan"
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 2002 19:01:58 –0400

Al, I owe you no explanations whatsoever about how I make my living, who my clients are, or how I choose to spend my leisure time.

But I will let you in one one disappointing little secret: I have no clients in Venezuela, or abroad, for whom I have been working with any interest in the outcome of the current political struggle being waged in this country, and am not, nor have I been since Chavez came to power, on the payroll of, nor have I received compensation from in any way shape or form, any interest with a score to settle with Chavez.

Get it? Clear enough for your little inquisitor's brain?

Your self-appointed role as grand jury, public prosecutor and political commissar, all rolled into one, may impress, or intimidate, some but to me you're just a megalomaniacal, self-promoting gasbag. You're wasting your time with me, Al. Go find someone else to pick on.

End of conversation.

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