Washington Post, Miami Herald Issue Embarrassingly Erroneous Editorials on Ecuador

February 21, 2013

The Miami Herald editorial board commented on the recent reelection of Ecuador’s Rafael Correa earlier this week, noting that “opposition candidate Alvaro Noboa, whom Mr. Correa defeated 57 percent to 43 percent, has indicated that he might challenge the results, accusing Mr. Correa of rigging the election.”

Just one problem; Noboa actually received 3.7 percent of the vote, putting him in 5th place overall. In fact, even the second place finisher in the election received just 23 percent of the vote, putting him some 34 percentage points behind Correa. The results cited in the Herald editorial were actually the results of the 2006 presidential election where Noboa did in fact earn 43 percent of the vote.

Perhaps the editorial board should have consulted with their own reporters, who noted after the election that, “President Rafael Correa crushed the opposition Sunday, avoiding a runoff and winning the right to lead this Andean nation through 2017.” The article didn’t even mention Noboa.

The error is particularly striking since it is the opinion of the Herald’s editorial board, and so is presumably read by at least one other person on the board besides the author.

The Herald goes on to say that electoral authorities “have an obligation to hear Mr. Noboa out” because that “is what’s supposed to happen in a democracy.” And The Miami Herald has an obligation to fact check, because that is what’s supposed to happen at a newspaper.

Striking a remarkably similar tone as the Herald editorial, The Washington Post – aka “Fox on 15th Street” – again demonstrates its affinity for a Fox News/Tea Party line when it comes to Latin America. In an editorial titled “Ecuador’s president, suppressing the media,” the Post follows the lead of other far-right pundits such as Jose Cardenas and Mary O’Grady in describing Correa essentially as “Ecuador’s Chavez.” The editorial hits on many of the same themes favored by recent media coverage that we examined earlier. Aside from claims that Correa has “strong-armed his country’s media into becoming his personal propaganda apparatus” (as we’ve noted, the Ecuadorean media is uncensored and the majority of it opposes the government), the editorial also makes the claim – without evidence – that Correa seeks to succeed Hugo Chávez as “as leader of the anti-democratic Latin American left” (aka “bad left”).

The editorial also echoes sentiments expressed by such far right voices as Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly following Obama’s election victory in November. O’Reilly chalked Obama’s win up in part to that some voters “want stuff. They want things.” The Washington Post editorial writers declare that, “Mr. Correa won votes by spending billions in oil revenue in an unsustainable spree.”

In fact, Ecuador’s budget deficit for 2012 was just 2.2 percent of GDP – a low deficit by any comparisons, and the interest burden of its debt is less than one percent, also very low.  There is nothing unsustainable about the Correa governments’ investment’s in the people and infrastructure of Ecuador.

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