Citizen Action Monitor

Capitalism’s corporate media use ‘Venezuela’ as one-word weapon against rising tide of ‘socialism’

Fox News, NY Times and other corporate news outlets are corrupting the news with their virulent propaganda.

No 2432 Posted by fw, February 11, 2019

Alan MacLeod

“Socialism—whatever that means—is in vogue right now. A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of millennials view socialism favorably, preferring it to capitalism. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, while new leftist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policies of higher taxes on the wealthy, free healthcare and public college tuition are highly popular—even among Republican voters. Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated.”Alan MacLeod, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting)

Alan MacLeod is a member of the Glasgow University Media Group. His latest book, Bad News From Venezuela: 20 Years of Fake News and Misreporting, was published by Routledge in April, 2018.

To his considerable credit, MacLeod names the corporate media news outlets engaged in an egregious misrepresentation of the truth in their campaign targeting Venezuela and, by association, socialism. Thirteen media outlets are cited in his report: Fox News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Examiner, Miami Herald, London Independent, Washington Post, CNN, Bloomberg, NPR, and Britain’s Daily Express, Daily Mail, and Daily Telegraph. Although the CBC is not mentioned in MacLeod’s article, Alison Bodine wrote a piece about Ottawa’s anti-Venezuelan mouthpiece titled: Why is the CBC Lying About Venezuela? Anna Maria Tremonti Manufactures Dissent  published by Venezuelanalysis.com, October 17, 2018).

I rarely reference a reader’s comment to a story, but in this case I couldn’t resist reposting one reader’s witty remark:

“The irony in all this is that no one mentioned in this piece could accurately be called a socialist – including Maduro – if by ‘socialism’ one means a socioeconomic system organized around cooperation for the common good, with no place for corporate profit, no matter how well ‘regulated’ and ‘equitably’ taxed they may be. Which is why the smart money is on our inevitable extinction, as we piddle around with ‘Green New Deals’ and cling to cults of ‘progressive’ personality, while our handbasket to hell awaits our barmy bums.”

Below is my repost of Alan MacLeod’s excellent, well-document article, to which I have added my subheadings and highlighted text. As well, I added a video clip, two images, and omitted three images. Alternatively, to read the original piece on FAIR’s website, click on the following linked title.

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‘Venezuela’: Media’s One-Word Rebuttal to the Threat of Socialism by Alan MacLeod, FAIR, February 8, 2019

‘Socialism’ is in vogue right now, even though few advocates could explain precisely what it means

Socialism—whatever that means—is in vogue right now. A recent Gallup poll (8/13/18) found that a majority of millennials view socialism favorably, preferring it to capitalism. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States, while new leftist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) policies of higher taxes on the wealthy, free healthcare and public college tuition are highly popular—even among Republican voters (FAIR.org, 1/23/19).

‘Venezuela’ – a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide of ‘socialism’

Alarmed by the growing threat of progressive policies at home, the establishment has found a one-word weapon to deploy against the rising tide: Venezuela. The trick is to attack any political figure or movement even remotely on the left by claiming they wish to turn the country into a “socialist wasteland” (Fox News, 2/2/19) run by a corrupt dictatorship, leaving its people hungry and devastated.

Fox News and other corporate news outlets are polluting the airwaves with their virulent propaganda

Leading the charge have been Fox News and other conservative outlets. One Fox opinion piece (1/25/19) claimed that Americans should be “absolutely disgusted” by the “fraud” of Bernie Sanders and Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, as they “continue to promote a system that is causing mass starvation and the collapse of a country,” warning that is exactly what their failed socialist policies would bring to the US. (Back in the real world, while Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez identify as socialists, Warren is a self-described capitalist, and Booker is noted for his ties to Wall Street, whose support for his presidential bid he has reportedly been soliciting.) A second Fox News article (1/27/19) continues in the same vein, warning that, “At the heart of Venezuela’s collapse is a laundry list of socialist policies that have decimated its economy.”

Despite strongly criticizing Maduro and Chavez, Sanders was condemned by Wall Street for supporting a ‘dictator’

The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) describes calls for negotiations in Venezuela as “siding with the dictator.” In an article entitled Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and the Starving Children of Venezuela, the Washington Examiner (6/15/17) warned its readers to “beware the socialist utopia,” describing it as a dystopia where children go hungry thanks to socialism. The Wall Street Journal (1/28/19) recently condemned Sanders for his support of a “dictator,” despite the fact Bernie has strongly criticized Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and dismissed Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, as a “dead Communist dictator (Reuters, 6/1/16).

New York Times and Miami Herald join in the vicious disinformation campaign

More supposedly centrist publications have continued this line of attack. The New York Times’ Bret Stephens (1/25/19) argued: “Venezuela is a socialist catastrophe. In the age of AOC, the lesson must be learned again”—namely, that “socialism never works,” as “20 years of socialism” has led to “the ruin of a nation.” The Miami Herald (2/1/19) cast shame on Sanders and AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] for arguing for socialism in the face of such overwhelming evidence against it, describing the left’s refusal to back self-appointed president Juan Guaidó, someone whom less than 20 percent of Venezuelans had even heard of, let alone voted for, as “morally repugnant.

The attack is sustain by ignoring the inconvenient facts, especially the US role in Venezuela’s collapse

This useful weapon to be used against the left can only be sustained by withholding a great number of key facts—chief among them, the US role in Venezuela’s devastation.

  • US sanctions, according to the Venezuelan opposition’s economics czar, are responsible for a halving of the country’s oil output (org,12/17/18).
  • The UN Human Rights Council has formally condemned the US and discussed reparations to be paid, with one UN special rapporteur describing Trump’s sanctions as a possible “crime against humanity” (London Independent1/26/19).
  • This has not been reported by any the New York Times,Washington PostCNN or any other national US “resistance” news outlet, which have been only too quick to support Trump’s regime change plans (org1/25/19).

US-backed Venezuelan opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned

Likewise, the local US-backed opposition’s role in the economic crisis is barely mentioned. The opposition, which controls much of the country’s food supply, has officially accepted responsibility for conducting an “economic war” by withholding food and other key goods.

The reason for long bread lines in Venezuela is rarely mentioned by US corporate news

For example, the monolithic Empresas Polar controls the majority of the flour production and distribution crucial for making arepa cornbread, Venezuela’s staple food. Polar’s chair is Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of Juan Guaidó’s Popular Will party, while its president is Lorenzo Mendoza, who considered running for president against Maduro in the 2018 elections that caused pandemonium in the media (FAIR.org5/23/18). Conspicuously, it’s the products that Polar has a near-monopoly in that are often in shortest supply. This is hardly a secret, but never mentioned in the copious stories (CNN5/14/14, Bloomberg3/16/17, Washington Post5/22/17NPR4/7/17) focusing on bread lines in the country.

Also rarely mentioned are two facts about Venezuela worthy of praise

Also rarely commented on was the fact that multiple international election observer missions declared the 2018 elections free and fair, and that Venezuelan government spending as a proportion of GDP (often considered a barometer of socialism) is actually lower than the US’s, and far lower than most of Europe’s, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

British media present Venezuela’s allegedly “socialist dictatorship” as the cause for its crisis

Regardless of these bothersome facts, the media has continued to present Venezuela’s supposedly socialist dictatorship as solely responsible for its crisis as a warning to any progressives who get the wrong idea. So useful is this tool that it is being used to attack progressive movements around the world. The Daily Express (2/3/19) and Daily Mail (2/3/19) condemned UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for his “defense” of a “dictator,” while the Daily Telegraph (2/3/19) warned that the catastrophe of Venezuela is Labour’s blueprint for Britain.

London newspaper condemns as ‘shameful’ Greek Syriza’s support for Maduro

Meanwhile, the Greek leftist party Syriza’s support for Maduro (the official position of three-quarters of UN member states) was condemned as “shameful” (London Independent, 1/29/19).

Watch clip below of panelist on The View claim that people in Venezuela are “starving to death”

“Venezuela” is also used as a one-word response to shut down debate and counter any progressive idea or thought. While the panel on ABC’s The View (7/23/18) discussed progressive legislation like Medicare for All and immigration reform, conservative regular Meghan McCain responding by invoking Venezuela: “They’re starving to death” she explained, leaving the other panelists bemused. President Trump has also used it. In response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren over his “Pocahontas” jibe, he replied that she would “make our country into Venezuela” (Reuters, 10/15/18).

Portraying Venezuela as a “socialist dictatorship” serves as a weapon to beat back the growing popularity of socialism at home.

The weapon’s effectiveness can only be sustained through a media in lockstep with the government’s regime-change goals. That the media is fixated on the travails of a relatively small and unimportant country in America’s “backyard,” and that the picture of Venezuela is so shallow, is not a mistake. Rather, the simplistic narrative of a socialist dictatorship starving its own people provides great utility as a weapon for the establishment to beat back the domestic “threat” of socialism, by associating movements and figures such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jeremy Corbyn with an evil caricature they [the media] have carefully crafted.

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