Yegparian: How the Media Have Fallen

Imagine: The newspaper that exposed Watergate now condones corruption. That’s how bad things are in the media universe these days. I refer, of course, to the Washington Post and the Matt Bryza-loving article by Fred Hiatt, the Editorial Page editor, that appeared on Sun., Dec. 18 (“When special interests block national interest”).

Unfortunately, this kind of lapse is what gives the right-wing, anti-reality propaganda machine the real instances of impropriety to feed their constant, ginned-up transgressions. Why Hiatt goes out of his way to speak up for a compromised candidate for the position of U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan is a mystery. Perhaps he and Bryza struck up a friendship when he was working in Moscow for the Washington Post while Bryza was there in a diplomatic capacity (their Moscow stints overlapped in 1995, based on their biographies).

What a difference four decades can make (Watergate to Bryza). Someone charged with the serious responsibilities of an editor of a newspaper like the Washington Post condones the clear conflicts of interest and, at the very least, the appearances of such conflicts. I won’t waste readers’ time listing all the questionable associations and actions attached to Bryza, since to readers of Armenian publications, these are common knowledge.

In the capacities that I serve in, on local and state agency boards, I’m required to take a biennial course on conflicts of interest. Admittedly, this training focuses on financial conflict, gifts, etc., but it certainly creates sensitivity to the issue. I have no doubt the federal government, has similar trainings. How can somebody like Bryza, who works in the federal government not be cognizant of the conflicted situation he’s in? Add to it the fact that he works for the State Department where everything is about appearances, protocol, tact, finesse, etc., and the improbability of his not being aware of his conflict of interest (or, once again, at the very least, the appearance of it) becomes mind-bogglingly monstrous.

With all this being so self-evident, how can Hiatt defend and advocate Bryza’s appointment? Somehow, even personal friendship seems insufficient to account for it. I am left to conclude Hiatt has some agenda or ideology dictating such a position. Otherwise how can he explain:

– how he leaves unremarked in his article the oddness of the fact that the two Senators who placed a hold on the president’s nominee Bryza are from the president’s own party;

– mentioning that Bryza’s wife is Turkish and insinuating her nationality is the reason for   the ANCA’s (in Hiatt’s world, an organization to demonize) opposition to Bryza, rather than her actual doings, writings, and affiliations, which indicate a very understandable bias on her part that can’t help but manifest through their domestic connection;

– comparing the Armenian Diaspora to that of Cuba, Israel, and Latvia (I know not what the Latvian reference entails, but we are hardly like the Cubans who are (largely) driven by an anti-Castro mindset that espouses a very hard line towards the current regime; neither are we like the Jewish Diaspora, which has a much more nuanced, mixed, and evolved approach towards Israel);

– citing as Bryza’s supporters “the heads of the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute,” relying on most readers’ lack of awareness of these organizations (they are what would best be described as American propaganda operations (obviously, not unnatural to have), hardly the people you want speaking up for you when issues of credibility arise;

– claiming “the larger U.S. national interest can fall victim to special-interest jockeying and political accommodation” when the bases for questioning Bryza’s propriety are among the most American of considerations;

– the cynical use of the reconciliation fetish that attends some discussions of Armenia-Turkey relations as evidenced in the crocodile tears shed by Hiatt lamenting that “one reason for the sub-par (economic, GY) performance has been Armenia’s inability to settle grievances with neighboring Azerbaijan and Turkey,” and later, “the biggest losers in all this won’t be Americans or Azerbaijanis (who, by the           way, enjoy about twice the per capita income of Armenians), but Armenians—poor, isolated, and once again victims of a power play that has nothing to do with their wellbeing.”

Fred Hiatt should be utterly ashamed of his naked obsequiousness. If Bryza is such a competent diplomat, let him be assigned to posts that are not rife with the sorts of conflicts he finds himself in when called upon to serve in the Caucasus, Armenian Plateau, or Anatolia.

Those reading this should go to the Washington Post’s website and post their comments. There are over 100 already, and relatively few represent the decent position to hold on this matter. Of course, Azeris are posting, but so are otherwise un- or under-informed citizens. We should be correcting that imbalance and filling the gap. Get to work.

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
Garen Yegparian

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  1. Watergate was exposed by the Washington Post because Nixon had become targeted by some influential circles in Washington. Thus, it was political and had nothing to do with journalism per se. The newspaper in question is a propaganda outlet like the rest of the nation’s controlled news press. So, please burn your college diploma and stop watching the history channel, because everything you though you knew about the good ol US of A has been a lie…

  2. The Washington Post or Fred Hiatt do not influence American public opinion, or the US Congress. Like most news outlets ( printed media or TV) they are biased,
    bought out and not totally honest as they never reveal any conflicts of interest. Most times they are ignorant about Armenia or the region and have been brainwashed about the importance of Turkey’s membership in NATO.
    Who knows what Fred Hiatt received for being supportive of Matt Bryza?
    We should ignore the Washington post and Fred Hiatt. We should spend our energy and support on Senator Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez who had the political integrity, moral compass and strenght to stand up to a Democratic President and block the appointment. Also kudos to the ANCA for its efforts. The work they do with their limited financial resources is incredibly effective.
    Vart Adjemian

  3. There exists no soul in Washington that can sincerely be trusted by Armenians. Washingtonians who pose themselves as “Armenia-friendly” are those appointed by high level reptiles in Washington to merely keep Armenian subjects in check, and to perpetually keep Armenians running in circles.

    Geopolitically/Geostrategically, Armenia is a nuisance/obstacle for special interests running the show in Washington. Geopolitically/Geostrategically, the reason why Western forces are attempting to gain a foothold in the Caucasus is energy exploitation. Geopolitically/Geostrategically, the reason why Western forces are attempting to gain a foothold in the Caucasus is to contain/undermine Russia and Iran. Armenia has nothing to offer Western interests; even if it did, it would not matter simple because Armenia’s present and Armenia future simply belongs with Russia and Iran.

    Thus, every single dollar and every single minute spent in Washington is time and money WASTED. Amerikahay can do themselves and us all a big favor by waking up from their stupor. Yegparian I am sure you mean well but please read Avetis’s comment and try to meditate on it for a while. In a certain sense, you have been living a lie.

  4. In no nation’s power elite there’s soul when it comes to advancing her interests worldwide. The notion of ‘soul’ in international politics is unreal and no nation can ‘sincerely be trusted’. It’s either sheer naiveté or deliberate misdirection to state that only Washington ought to be mistrusted. Any nation should be trusted only to the extent of convergence of bilateral interests. Any sincere trust and overreliance in the longer term can be self-destructive for a smaller partner. If and whenever Moscow’s interests shift for tactical considerations, Muscovites will without a wink of the eye forget that ‘Armenia’s future belongs to Russia’. Of course, Armenia’s geography is her major geopolitical determinant and Yerevan’s relations with Moscow are crucial, but that doesn’t mean that some ‘soul’ exists in Moscow and that Moscow can ‘sincerely be trusted’. There were several historical instances when Armenians’ interests were abandoned (leaving the Caucasus front open in 1915 thus exposing Armenians to Turkish mass slaughter; surrender of Kars and Ardahan to Turkey; transfer of Karabakh and Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan; ‘Ring’ Operation aimed at vacating Armenian villages in Karabakh, etc.). For a smaller nation, there should be no trust toward any power center—be it Washington, Moscow, or Beijing. Bilateral relations must be based on pragmatism and political/economic gain, not romanticism.

  5. @Arsen

    I don’t know if you noticed but the issue at hand is Washington/America and the destructive adoration Amerikahays reserve for the political system here. Thus, my comment was meant to be a critical look at individuals like Yegparian who always operate from the silly/naive/dangerous premise that its only a couple bad apples ruing the wonderful system here. The system here is utterly corrupt and in recent years has been a source of evil around the world. That is the point. Anyway, I see I have a fan/stalker. Arsen jan, although I’m glad I have a reader like you (someone who comes from exquisite breeding) please don’t worry too much about what I think and simply address the topic at hand.

  6. Actually, Avetis, I was addressing Harutik’s post, in case you failed to notice, and not the topic of Mr. Yegparian’s article. So, I guess, the question is: why are you rising?

    P.S. People from ‘exquisite breeding’ can bring more professionalism to the elites and have more potential to raise the bar of a nation’s overall performance than village bumpkins, urban provincials, or semiliterate self-centered thugs.

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