Citizen Action Monitor

Was CBC’s coverage of Juan Guaidó’s failed coup a propaganda attempt at “Manufacturing Consent”? 3/3

CBC’s propaganda exposed — April 30 broadcast of failed coup in Venezuela riddled with blatant manufactured propaganda.

No 2477 Posted by fw, June 1, 2019

“In this post, Part 3, I will present a sample of evidence drawn solely from the opening few seconds of CBC’s April 30, 2019 broadcast to clearly show how the choice of words, coupled with selected video clips, and filtering of information were packaged to frame the issues in a way that would mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector.’ More to the point, in their rush to manufacture their message, the CBC appeared to violate its own Journalistic Standards and Practices. To collect this evidence, I used my “Chronological Account of Events and Narratives Featured in the Video”, presented in Part 1, to carefully re-examine the broadcast’s spoken and video clip content, focusing solely on the opening few seconds. My analysis of Rosemary Barton’s opening words, and the accompanying 2-second video clip, along with my research of related online news and information sources, yielded telling results.”  Frank White, Citizen Action Monitor

I admit up front that, on selected issues, I have long believed that the CBC functions, in Noam Chomsky’s words, “to mobilize public support for the special interests that dominate the government and the private sector.

To recap parts 1 and 2 in this set of posts –

Part 1 invited readers to reflect on this question –

“Based on your viewing of the CBC’s video, and on your reading of my detailed description of the CBC’s framing of the issues as portrayed in the video, and on your initial understanding of the brief introduction to Herman and Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’, would you characterize the CBC’s coverage of the Venezuelan coup attempt as a piece of propaganda?”

Part 2 began with an embedded 9-minute video summarizing key ideas from Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent as a mass media propaganda model. Accompanying the video are my summary notes intended to capture and explain the essentials of Manufacturing Consent as a mass media propaganda model. Because the video is a mix of selected excerpts from a much longer documentary, I found that it lacked coherence. Nevertheless, I hope it will take us one step further towards providing a set of criteria to objectively evaluate whether CBC’s coverage of Juan Guaidó’s failed coup is indeed a calculated propaganda attempt at manufacturing consent.

In his book, Chomsky claimed that the “societal purpose of the media is to inculcate and defend the economic, social and political agenda of privileged groups that dominate the domestic society and the state.” The media do that, says Chomsky, through the selection of topics, framing of issues, filtering of information and by keeping debate in the media within “the bounds of the acceptable,” – acceptable primarily to the ruling elites.   

Stories which the mass media deem fit to publish (in print or video format) are not necessarily stories that serve the public good. So, in his book, Chomsky induces people to be skeptical about communication packages from the media, to be wary of cleverly disguised, manufactured propaganda. Sadly, most people today are not highly motivated to attend to what does not immediately spark their attention or serve their interests.

In this post, Part 3, I will present a sample of evidence drawn solely from the opening few seconds of CBC’s April 30, 2019 broadcast to clearly clearly show how the CBC’s choice of words, coupled with selected video clips, and filtering of information, were packaged as propaganda. More to the point, in their rush to manufacture their message, the CBC appeared to violate its own Journalistic Standards and Practices. 

What I found so astonishing about the CBC’s manufactured propaganda was how blatantly obvious it was. No subtlety at all.

To collect this evidence, I used my “Chronological Account of Events and Narratives Featured in the Video”,  presented in Part 1, to carefully re-examine the broadcast’s spoken and video clip content, focusing solely on the opening few seconds. My analysis of Rosemary Barton’s opening words, and the accompanying 2-second video clip, along with my research of related online news and information sources, yielded telling results.

Before reviewing my evidence below, I strongly recommend readers open in their browser’s new tab the video of the CBC’s April 30 news broadcast by clicking here — Having the video handy in another tab will enable you to read my account of alleged manufactured propaganda while simultaneously comparing it with the video source. The story of Guaidó’s attempted coup is at the very beginning of the news broadcast.


Turning to my evidence, I believe I can make my point by focusing on just one of countless examples of CBC’s manufactured propaganda.

1/ The title that the CBC assigns to the story — “Venezuela Violence” — is revealing in the sense that it ignores the key word that best describes what was occurring in Venezuela on April 30, 2019 – an attempted “coup”.

2/ CBC commentator Rosemary Barton introduces the story with a choice of words that frames what will  follow, especially in the opening 2-second video clip: “uprising turns violent” — (But it’s not just an “uprising”, it’s an attempted “coup”); “Chaos in Caracas” — (Grossly exaggerated characterization  – Caracas is a big city. Is there “chaos” everywhere in Caracas?); “play for power”  — (It’s not just a “play”, it’s a “coup” attempt); government “fires” back – (Implying use of firearms).

Why did the CBC filter out use of the word ‘coup’ throughout its entire 6:14-minute coverage, preferring to filter in terms such as ‘topple’, ‘demonstrations’, ‘play’, ‘push’, ‘uprising’, ‘rebellion’? Perhaps it’s the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘coup’ that CBC producers found too accurate: A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government, to which Wikipedia adds: “… typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.

Or perhaps the CBC was simply following the lead of the US media — In a May 1, 2019 article, FAIR reports: “In their efforts to refrain from using the negative—but accurate—term ‘coup’ to describe events they support, the media have sometimes had to go to bizarre, roundabout and garbled lengths to dance around it. The Washington Post (4/30/19) used the clunky phrase ‘opposition-led military-backed challenge.’  The Post (4/30/19) also published an article in support of Guaidó headlined ‘Is What’s Happening in Venezuela an attempted Coup? First, Define ‘Coup,’ arguing that there were such things as ‘noble’ and ‘democratic coups.

3/ Just 7-seconds into the story, a 2-second video clip flashes across the screen – the first of a rapid succession of 39 clips during the entire 6:14-minutes of coverage.  This opening 2-second video, showing an unidentified white armoured vehicle heading into a gathering of unidentified people milling about, was particularly dramatic and terrifying as the truck appears to strike a number of people. However, in a slow-motion viewing, two things become clear:

First, as the vehicle accelerates towards the group of people, the front tires strike a high curb propelling the front end high up into the air. This creates the misleading impression that the vehicle intended to run over people;

Second, as the vehicle plows through the people, a slow-motion viewing makes it clear that its front right fender did indeed strike at least one person, knocking him/her to the ground. At this point the clip abruptly ends, making it impossible to see if anyone else was injured. Viewers subsequently learn that the vehicle was a government military truck, and the cluster of people were likely supporters of Guaidó’s attempted “coup”. Given that a violent coup attempt may have been underway, the truck’s maneuver may well have been justifiable as a lawful act preventing Maduro’s overthrow.

So, calculated framing of words and video clip or not? Your call.

Affirming evidence that CBC’s coverage is manufactured propaganda

FirstThe source of the CBC’s video feed is not clearly identified either at the outset of, or later in, the broadcast. Presuming this feed is from a third party, the use of an unidentified video feed would appear to be in violation of the CBC’s own Journalistic Standards and Practices (JSP) — In a section titled “Third Party Material on CBC Sites”, there is this standard: “CBC online news pages may include material from external sites. This material is clearly labeled, noting the original source or contributor.

In addition, under the subheading “Live Reporting – Principles”, there is this standard: “We undertake to act responsibly in the circumstances and to give people information we have reasonably verified, and to stay away from rumour and speculation.” If you read the Third point below, it is clear that the CBC failed “to give people information we have reasonably verified, and to stay away from rumour and speculation.” In fact, as the Second point below reveals, evidence seems to confirm that CNN was the source of the video feed. Moreover, the Third point offers evidence that CNN’s video report was NOT entirely factually accurate.

As an aside, regarding the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, speaking as a former designer of online user interfaces, the JSP is definitely not user friendly. The web page opens with a list of 25 main subject headings. That’s bad enough. It gets worse. When you open a main heading, you get another list, this one of subheadings – 199 in all – and you still haven’t arrived at the content! If this design is a deliberate attempt to frustrate and confuse users, it’s a magnificent success. A single, layered, drop-down Table of Contents would have been so much more efficient and easier to use.

Second — Returning to the subject of the source of the CBC’s video feed, evidence seems to confirm that the source was CNN. In researching for this post, I found a May 1, 2019 video report titled Venezuelan Coup Fails & So Does CNN published by The Jimmy Dore Show. The first thing that caught my attention was a screen capture of video clip images identical to those I witnessed in the CBC’s coverage. Dore, pointing to a screen monitor beside him, says: “Well according to CNN, you got Juan Guaidó was leading everybody in a revolution — it [CNN] says ‘Opposition leader Juan Guaidó just spoke to a cheering crowd in Caracas Venezuela. ‘We’re going to stand here together asking and demanding the military to join me,’ he said.” Dore has clearly identified CNN as the source of the CBC’s feed.

ThirdMore about CNN — In a May 9 examination of media coverage during the April 30 failed military coup, Dave Lindorff reported several instances of CNN fraud. Here are just two of several excerpts from Lindorff’s report:

“According to CNN, he [Guaidó] was addressing “thousands of supporters” on the scene, urging the rest of the Venezuelan military to join the coup and oust the ‘usurper’ Maduro. … But as Michael Fox and other observers noted, CNN didn’t show those ‘thousands’ of supporters—because there were none. Nor did the cable network explain in its report that Guaidó and Lopez were not actually at the airbase, but rather were standing on a highway overpass outside the base—which was, in fact, never in rebel hands at all.”

“There are two possibilities here: Either CNN’s US-based editors were lied to by their reporters in Caracas, or they were well aware that their story of the takeover of a military airfield, along with reports of thousands of protesters on the scene in support of Guaidó, was a hoax. It’s not hard to imagine the latter being the truth, because CNN earlier was caught fraudulently reporting that Venezuelan troops had set aid trucks stopped at the Columbian border afire, when in fact the fires had been started by anti-Maduro protesters. Though this truth was proven by other reports and video, CNN never corrected its false story in that case, nor did it discipline its on-the-scene reporters.”

Just think – It seems likely that the CBC relied on a shockingly biased, fraudulent CNN feed for its entire 6:14-minute coverage of the April 30 attempted coup.

Fourth and finally, for the purpose of comparison and contrast, I offer into evidence The Real News Network’s coverage of Guaidó’s April 30, 2019 failed coup attempt. Same event, different coverage by two media organizations. Watch TRNN’s embedded video below and read the transcript, parts of which I have highlighted to counter the CBC’s propaganda. Then decide — Which media outlet do you think is more factually accurate and reliable?

TRNN’s report is about 12-minutes long. Note: Unlike the CBC’s coverage — 1/ The sources of TRNN’s video and image feeds – The Guardian, Reuters, Facebook — clearly appear in the upper left corner; 2/ TRNN’s Mike Fox reported live from Caracas, and contradicted CBC’s misinformed details; 3/ Greg Wilpert, activist, founder of the excellent website, and producer for TRNN, was also on hand to provide his informed expertise, noting that “thousands, actually, are also gathering right now in front of the presidential palace in Miraflores to express their support for the government. And so far no military has–no larger contingent of the military seems to have turned, switched sides, to Guaidó.”

Venezuela’s Guaidó Falsely Claims Military Uprising in Progress: Mainstream Media Falls in Line by The Real News Network, April 30, 2019.

Tuesday morning self-declared president and opposition leader Juan Guaidó called on the military and the population to oppose the Maduro government. Only a few thousand civilians and very few soldiers heeded the call. Mike Fox reports from Caracas.


SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. Early this morning, in what appears to be a highly orchestrated media event, the self-declared interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó announced to the public that he was calling for an insurrection of Venezuela’s military against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

JUAN GUAIDO Now I call on the civil servants, who are a fundamental component not only for the transition but also for the reconstruction of Venezuela to recover national sovereignty. Our armed forces today—courageous soldiers, courageous patriots, courageous men who follow the constitution—have responded to our call. We have come together in the streets of Venezuela.

SHARMINI PERIES The announcement was made from a freeway where the Caracas Air Force Base is located. It was accompanied by 20 or so soldiers in uniform brandishing weapons. Now, President Maduro immediately denounced the move. Venezuela’s Defense Minister General Padrino Lopez tweeted that the military accompanying Guaidó is a small group of traitors.

On to discuss the situation with us is Mike Fox. He’s on the ground in Caracas. He’s actually in Altamira, but a few minutes ago he was on location at the air force base. And in studio here we are joined by our in-house expert on Venezuela, Gregory Wilpert. He’s also our managing editor here. Welcome, Greg. Welcome, Mike.

Mike, describe what is going on the ground. You were on site very early morning as this was being tweeted out to the general public.

MIKE FOX Absolutely. Well, outside of the Air Force base for several hours, opposition supporters have been grouping outside. We’re talking about hundreds, talking about a thousand at this point. They’ve been just outside the Air Force base. Groups with hoods [have] been throwing rocks, trying to get in to the, you know, to the side of the Air Force base. This is now the opposite end, kind of the northeastern side of the base, just a few blocks from Altamira.

So it’s very clear that the international media has obviously been saying that, or at least it first came out, that Guaidó had occupied the base. That is absolutely not true, because these people have been battling it out with the Venezuelan armed forces, which have been shooting tear gas into the crowd. There’s been a bit of a cat and mouse game when people come down to kind of the wall, and then they’re forced back.

Now, I, like I said, for the last, say, 45 minutes, I’ve been a few blocks away, and there’s been a steady stream of opposition supporters that have been walking and marching in from, at least here from eastern Caracas into Altamira, and then are headed to that, to the one location. Throughout the rest of Caracas things seem to be fairly calm, at least according to the people that I’ve been in touch with. I do know that there are people amassed outside of Miraflores, supporters of President Nicolas Maduro. So that’s kind of the latest, where the opposition supporters are, many of them, are saying this is kind of ground zero. This is it, it’s now or never. And we’re going to see what happens.

SHARMINI PERIES And, Mike, explain to us the way in which this unfolded this morning. How did you come to know about it?

MIKE FOX Well, it was a tweet, actually, that came out from Juan Guaidó. I think it was a Periscope through his Twitter account. And that really lit everything on fire. And obviously that tweet, in it he called for insurrection. He had military members behind him. He had Leopoldo Lopez, who is a longtime member of the opposition who’s been under house arrest for many years for his role in the guarimbas, in which dozens of people were killed. And he was obviously with him. He was out of his house, and he was out. They were just outside of the military base. And he insinuated in his tweet that they had occupied that base. And many people thought that actually a coup had taken place because of the military orders behind him.

Now, there’s been other videos that have surfaced, one in particular just recently, in which many of those same military members – Now, this is unconfirmed, but if the video is true, many of those militaries, those soldiers that were there behind him were actually brought there by mistake. They say they were tricked by their commanding officer.

SPEAKER Yesterday, at approximately 6pm, we were told to get our ‘patriot’ uniform, to receive a decoration and news that would change our lives. That’s what they told us. That’s what they are looking for, a confrontation of military against military, but we showed them that they can’t.

MIKE FOX There’s a lot of things we don’t know at this point. We do know that things kind of kicked off just around 6:00, just before 6:00. And since then everything has been kind of turned upside down.

SHARMINI PERIES And describe the situation on the ground, Mike. What are you seeing in terms of the number of soldiers that are there? What is actually happening at the Air Force base? What are the developments now?

MIKE FOX Yeah. So I was there roughly an hour ago, and I’m going to be headed back, because I couldn’t have my internet connection from there. It’s very hard to see the soldiers from the inside of the base from where we were standing. And it’s hard to get close because of the tear gas that they’ve been firing. But there are obviously, you know, a number of them, dozens of soldiers inside. Now, there were a number of soldiers, or at least people wearing armed force [no audio] here at the bridge in the opposition concentration where I was this morning. I’d say about seven or eight that people obviously cheered on. We don’t – That’s not confirmed whether or not they were actually members of the armed forces. But they, they appeared – the idea was that they were kind of defecting and joining the opposition.

And on the bridge there, and on the side of the roads while I was there, there was definitely a couple thousand people. And obviously they are definitely up in arms and very excited to try and push as much as possible. Basically what they’re saying is — This is the beginning of the May 1, that’s what Guaidó said, also. They’ve been planning a big march for tomorrow, May 1, Workers Day, as well as Nicolas Maduro and the Chavista supporters have been obviously planning a very big march tomorrow. But this [May 1] march, Guaidó said, it would be the biggest in Venezuelan history. And he says this is the beginning. And so that’s why the people had amassed now, and kind of following and saying it’s now or never.

SHARMINI PERIES Early morning reports was that Guaidó had taken over this Air Force base. That is quite the contrary. And what you’re reporting to us is there’s a few isolated members of the military that is accompanying Guaidó, and even their allegiance is in question at the moment.

MIKE FOX That’s absolutely true. And then any international reporting that is out there that Guaidó has taken the base is absolutely false. He wouldn’t have been firing tear gas on the opposition supporters that were trying to get in, and they wouldn’t have been throwing rocks at the armed forces. And so yes, I think part of this – this is my analysis – that part of this is part of a much larger plan to create a media image, right, an international image that Guaidó has power, has power from the armed forces, with the hope that they can turn out opposition supporters and really kind of create a mass [inaudible] and a general opinion in the international media that Guaidó has now done this uprising. But that is definitely not the case. I cannot see him from where I am, and it’s hard to see the bridge, the overpass, where he is at that moment, even from where I was located next to the base. But he has definitely not taken the military base.

SHARMINI PERIES All right. Greg, you’ve seen these kinds of efforts in the past in terms of coups against President Chavez, and so on. What is this particular incident, significant of course in terms of what is unraveling in Venezuela? What is your take on what’s happening?

GREG WILPERT Well, in some ways it’s reminiscent of what they call the ‘guarimbas.’ That is, they start out as a small uprising, small effort to call to the military to rise up. That never ends up happening. And then they manage to get some radical opposition supporters to blockade streets, which they’re doing right now with the main freeway. I’ve heard reports that they’re also blockading other neighborhoods, particularly where the opposition is strong, such as also in Merida. So this is kind of an effort to get people to to mobilize against the Maduro government, but doesn’t seem to be very successful.

I mean, I think one of the main things to note is, for example, that thousands, actually, are also gathering right now in front of the presidential palace in Miraflores, and to express their support for the government. And so far no military has – no larger contingent of the military seems to have turned, switched sides, to Guaidó. And so it really looks more like an effort to provoke an international incident, perhaps even get themselves arrested, in order to get an outside intervention of some sort. That, to me, seems to be more of the strategy. And also a gradual buildup than a sudden coup, which, like I said, doesn’t seem like it’s happening at the moment.

SHARMINI PERIES All right. Mike, you are headed to Miraflores right after this conversation with us. Tell us what the response of the Maduro government has been thus far.

MIKE FOX Well, obviously they have condemned this. You had the minister of defense that tweeted out very early saying that all sectors of the armed forces are very much in the hands of the authorities of the Nicolas Maduro government; that there has not been defections. And like you said, they’ve called the people to surround Miraflores. And like Greg just said, there’s been thousands there that have been hitting the streets in defense. So obviously this is an issue. It’s a very big issue. But it’s not the issue that many of the international media have been claiming, have been talking about. And it’s much – you know, as Greg said, it’s much more minor than many people thought may have occurred this morning.

SHARMINI PERIES All right. Mike, we’ll leave it there for now. But we will be looking for you throughout the day as things develop on the ground in Caracas. Let me give you the final word, Greg.

GREG WILPERT Yeah, I just want to add one other thing that’s an important new development. Just today Reuters reported that Erik Prince has unveiled a plan to hire mercenaries to overthrow Maduro. Now, this was a secret plan that Reuters just reported on this morning, so I don’t think that’s too much of a coincidence. It doesn’t seem clear whether the Trump administration would move forward with it. But also the fact that Pompeo, the Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser Bolton, and Senator Marco Rubio have all in synchronization with Guaidó tweeted about this incident saying that we’re standing 100 percent behind you. It’s again another indication that this is an effort that has an international dimension, and not just something that was happening in Venezuela.

SHARMINI PERIES I thank you all for joining us. And we will keep reporting throughout the day today about what’s unraveling in Venezuela. Thank you for joining us for now.


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