Published On: Sat, Feb 10th, 2018

Newsbusters: Media ‘reluctant’ to call collapsing Venezuela ‘socialist’

Media watchdog Newsbusters took aim at the press over their avoidance of the “S-word”: socialism.

“As Venezuela plunges deeper into humanitarian crisis, the broadcast and cable networks barely recognize its existence, while the print press, which during relatively tolerable times routinely celebrated the country’s socialist government, is more reluctant than ever to use the S-word,” the outlet begins.

Analysis of recent articles seemed to prove their point, noting how dictator Nicolas Maduro may be listed as a “socialist” in just one story, but the nation is still given the honest label.

From Newsbusters:

These five press reports failed to mention Venezuela’s socialism:

  • At Reuters Friday afternoon, where reporter Andrew Cawthorne described “a frightening surge in attacks on increasingly lawless roads,” largely as a result of “growing hunger and desperation among the population of 30 million.”
  • At UPI, Daniel J. Graeber reported Friday morning that “Oil production from Venezuela is at its lowest in decades” (down 20 percent from 2016, and “at its lowest point in more than 10 years”). Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, used the state-run oil company as his government’s piggy bank when oil prices were high, neglecting business operations and infrastructure.
  • Inflation is now 4,000 percent annually, according to a Monday Wall Street Journal report. “(The) government so flummoxed on how to fix the distortions of its crumbling economy that it’s resorting to introducing what it says is a bitcoin-like cryptocurrency.” Good luck with that. Venezuela’s economic crisis is on track to worsen: “The International Monetary Fund estimates an economic contraction (in 2018) of 15%, which means that by the end of 2018 the economy will be half of what it was in 2013.”
  • Friday Journal item reports that declining oil production may help OPEC keep worldwide oil prices relatively high.
  • At the Associated Press, Christine Armario’s Thursday afternoon dispatch on Colombia’s difficulty handling Venezuelan migrants tells readers that “there are an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans currently in Colombia – double the number six months ago.”

Newsbusters listed “The only exception to the socialism blackout was a separate Thursday AP item on the elections, which tagged Maduro — not the government or its collapsing economy — as “socialist” in Paragraph 2. Later, reporter Scott Smith described the country as follows:

Once among Latin America’s wealthiest countries, oil-rich Venezuela is in a deepening crisis marked by soaring inflation and food shortages.

photo/ Gordon Johnson

They ask the valuable question: “Does it matter that Venezuela is rarely labeled socialist (or, for that matter, communist)? Of course it does. If the press won’t explain the underlying reason why conditions are so horrible, other nations are more likely to repeat its deadly mistakes.”

At the time of the writing, The Dispatch repeated the experiment: Google News “venezuela” yielded these top stories.

BBC, “Venezuelans rush to the border as Colombia tightens controls” uses the term once: “Venezuelans will go to the polls on 22 April to vote for president. Nicolás Maduro, who has been in office since 2013, is running for a second six-year term. He says the crisis has been caused by economic sabotage sponsored by the US. The Venezuelan opposition is weakened and is yet to choose a candidate. It blames the policies of the Socialist Party, in power since 1999, for the collapse of the oil-rich country’s economy.”

US News & World Report, “Colombia Wants to Build Venezuela Financial Rescue Plan”; The Guardian’s “Colombia and Brazil clamp down on borders as Venezuela crisis spurs exodus”; Venezuela Analysis’ story and the Columbia Reports coverage — ALL HAVE ZERO!

Hope could be found in the enticing Miami Herald article title “Venezuelans are going hungry. Why won’t the country accept aid?” – two uses:

Trapped in an economic crisis that includes hyperinflation, and food and medicine shortages, hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years. In neighboring Colombia alone, authorities estimate that there are anywhere from 560,000 to 700,000 Venezuelans.

And yet the socialist administration in Caracas won’t acknowledge that it has a crisis on its hands, refusing offers of food and medicine from its neighbors and aid agencies, including the Catholic Church.

On Thursday, several dozens of people marched in Venezuela’s capital demanding access to basic medicine and medical treatment, waving banners that read, “We don’t want to die.”

Gaby Arellano, an opposition deputy in Venezuela, has been lobbying for “humanitarian corridors” that might allow the free flow of food and medicine from Colombia and Brazil.

She said Maduro and his allies are opposing the idea because “they would have to acknowledge that their [socialist] political model has failed.”


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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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