TV3's Mike McRoberts spent a week in Haiti and, like the rest of the New Zealand mainstream media, has resolutely ignored the fact that the United States is engaged in the military occupation of this unfortunate country. Indeed by the end of this weekend the United States is expected to have 20,000 military troops on land and on ships moored off the Haitian coast.
It has also been reported that a unit originally scheduled to be deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan is now being sent to the Caribbean country.
Humanitarian aid and medical teams have accused the US military—which has asserted unilateral control over the country’s airport and port facilities—of making the deployment of troops and the evacuation of US citizens from Haiti its first priorities.
All of this has seemingly escaped McRoberts notice.
However on his blog on the TV3 website McRoberts has cast himself in the role of a crusading journalist - a 'friend' to the Haitian people no less.
'Clearly I have no problem with journalists stepping into a story,' McRoberts writes. The whole 'a journalist must stay detached' stuff is just crap.'
His comments were in response to suggestions in some media quarters that it was inappropriate for him to have carried a six-year-old Haitian girl around hospital grounds to receive the right medical treatment.
'I've always said that I'm a human being first and a journalist second, and if I'm in a position to help someone I will.' writes McRoberts.
This incident raised questions among some in the media about 'the rules of engagement'
Wrote one columnist in the NZ Herald:
'Should news reporters adhere to the strict journalistic standards of objectivity and non-intervention and remain impartial bystanders and witnesses, merely reporting and recording the facts? Or should they put down their microphones and cameras and offer their assistance?'
This debate though has entirely missed the point about McRoberts activities in Haiti.
He is certainly no John Pilger or Robert Fisk or Michael Moore.
McRoberts completely failed to report on how nearly a hundred years of economic and political oppression - driven by the United States- have exacerbated the crisis in Haiti.
He waxed lyrically about Haiti's poverty but he never once asked what were the factors that had led to this grinding poverty. Instead he could be heard uttering banalities about Haiti being 'a country that took one step forward and two steps back.' I still don't know what he means by this. Was he saying that Haiti itself was to blame for its dire economic circumstances?
Secondly McRoberts failed to report on the military occupation of Haiti by the United States.
In the end he ended up as just another apologist for the United States and the activities of its military.
He may of carried a young Haitian girl to hospital but, ultimately, he failed the Haitian people by his failure to ask questions about the economic and political factors that have contributed to Haiti's plight and also by his failure to ask why the US military were pouring into the beleaguered country.
McRoberts thinks that its crap that a journalist must stay detached - and I agree with him - but in Haiti he clearly wasn't prepared to question the economic and political motives of the Obama administration.