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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:49 PM

Media Hate Fest for Venezuela Keeps on Keepin' On

By Mark Weisbrot, Al Jazeera | Op-Ed

Last week there was a real media hate-fest for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, with some of the more influential publications on both sides of the Atlantic really hating on the guy. Even by the hate-filled standards to which we have become accustomed, it was impressive.

It's interesting, since this is one of the only countries in the world where the reporting of the more liberal media - NPR or even the New Yorker - is hardly different from that of Fox News or other right-wing media (more on that below).

The funniest episode came from El País, which on Thursday ran a front page picture of a man that they claimed was Chavez, lying on his back in a hospital bed, looking pretty messed-up with tubes in his mouth. The picture was soon revealed as completely fake. Oops! The paper, which is Spain's most influential publication (and with a lot of clout in Latin America, too), had to pull its newspapers off the stands and issue a public apology. Although, as the Venezuelans complained, there was no apology to Chavez or his family. Not surprisingly, since El Pais really hates Chavez.

The New York Times, for its part, ran yet another hate piece on its op-ed page. Dog bites man. Nothing new here, they have doing this for almost 14 years - most recently just three months ago. This one was remarkably unoriginal, comparing the Chavez government to a Latin American magical realist novel. It contained very little information - but being fact-free allowed the authors to claim that the country had "dwindling productivity" and "an enormous foreign debt load". Productivity has not "dwindled" under Chavez; in fact real GDP per capita, which is mostly driven by productivity growth, expanded by 24 percent since 2004 (for an explanation of why 2004 is a reasonable starting point, see here). In the 20 years prior to Chavez, real GDP per person actually fell. As for the "enormous foreign debt load", Venezuela's foreign public debt is about 28 percent of GDP, and the interest on it is about 2 percent of GDP. If this is enormous - well let's just say these people don't have a good sense of quantity.


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Reply Media Hate Fest for Venezuela Keeps on Keepin' On (Original post)
Purveyor Feb 2013 OP
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #1
RZM Feb 2013 #2
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #3
RZM Feb 2013 #4

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:51 PM

1. He committed the ultimate sin. He's a national leader that threatens the established order. n/t


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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:54 PM

2. Actually, from a media standpoint, the ultimate sin is keeping them out of the loop


And the Venezuelan government kind of seems to be doing that. They've been fairly mum about Hugo's status. I don't know why and I don't know what it means, but I do know that there are more than few frustrated reporters out there right now. They're desperate for the scoop and they've been denied for months now.

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Response to RZM (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:01 PM

3. The major media has been ripping President Chavez since he was elected.


He has made life so much more livable for the majority of Venezuelans, and is as popular there as FDR was here, yet the accusations and negative press has been unrelenting for over a decade. This is just the latest chapter.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:04 PM

4. I'm not saying this is the whole story


Chavez isn't new on the scene or new to coverage. But I do think that the lack of access here has annoyed some news organizations. It's not meant to replace what you're arguing - it's just a corollary.

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