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Corporate media slanders Venezuela: worst BBC article ever?

[There is nothing particularly special about this report on BBC online in regards to the decision of the Venezuelan government not to renew the broadcasting licence for RCTV to coninute to use channel 2 airwaves. It is completely in line with standard coverage in the corporate-owned media everhwhere on the issue: a non-stop stream of lies, distortions and selective facts. In Venezuela, the governmentis threatening to sue media outlets that refer to RCTV being "closed". No doubt this wil be interpreted by the US-funded opposition as another move of intimidation. However, the government has every reason to take such a course of action - the claim is entirely untrue, therefore the government has every right to sue, given tha thtis lie is the basis for an international campaign to isolate and attack Venezuela.


However, this BBC online article struck me for how there not a single line in it that wasn't either a lie, or severely distorted. Even the caption under the picture - of an opposition demonstration of course, the demonstrations in favour of the decision not to renew RCTV's licence don't even get a mention - is wrong. It says: "The president says he has the right to silence the channel". No he doesn't. They even distort what the president supposedly says he is doing. They have Chavez defending something he isn’t doing and never said he is doing. RCTV is not being silenced, it is not having the licence to broadcast over a particular airwave renewed. It can keep broadcasting, over cable like many other stations in Venezuela.]

Venezuela court orders TV seizure
By James Ingham, BBC News, Caracas

Venezuela's top court has allowed the government to take control of private TV transmitters as it prepares to replace commercial with state-run TV.
[No, not a state-run channel. A public channel based on shows made by independent producers overseen by a board independent of the government and not accountable to the government, although bound by broadcasting law passed by the government as are all channels and as is the case in every country. But a lie sounds better. Or possibly the journalist didn’t even bother to do anything more than just ask the opposition what was happening, and to the extent he bothered to even hear what the government or those who support its position was saying, probably just discounted it was the rantings of a dictatorship- in-the-making. It could be a deliberate slander, or it could be extremely lazy and biased journalism. What it isn't is the truth.]
Radio Caracas Television, a station critical of the government, is being forced to stop broadcasting on its public frequency.
[This distorts things through selective use of facts. Yes, RCTV is critical of the government. So is the overwhelming majority of media which is overwhelmingly in private hands - 79 out of 81 TV stations and ALL newspapers. The obvious implication is that this is why the government is "silencing" the station. You could just as factually, and with much more relevance, write, "Radio Caracas Television, a station the was central to organising the military coup that overthrew the elected government and dissolved the constitution, is being forced...." ]
Tens of thousands of people are expected to protest against the decision this weekend.
[No doubt. And probably that many are expected to join counter-protests, but don't inform your readers of that, it might confuse them and suggest that perhaps there are actual issues that large numbers of people feel are legitimate behind the decision to not renew RCTV's licence.]
Government supports are planning a separate show of strength.
[Right, not "tens of thousands pf people" planning a "protest". No, "government supporters" (whereas the opposition protests are not explicitly tagged as "opposition supporters", which might suggest that political issues not directly tied to the RCTV case might motivate the protests - a desire to discredit the government. The opposition demonstrators are presented in a way that suggests they are nothing more than well-intention citizens with a legitimate grievance they wish to raise. A number at the protests may well be, but the protests are organised by groups funded by the US government. But don't raise that.

However, those protesting on the other side of the issue are "government supporters", implying perhaps THEY have an ulterior motive. Not just that but they are not planning a "protest" like the good citizens of the opposition, they are planning a "show of strength". Choice of words implies intimidation, not legitimate protest. It brings to mind government-backed thugs with violent intentions, the sort current wrecking bloody havoc on pro-democracy demonstrators in Pakistan. It doesn't bring to mind a plan to march down the street chanting slogans and waving placards, even though no doubt this is what will happen.]..
“Path of dictatorship”
[Even the subhead is slanted against the government, although at least I guess they had the decency to put it in quotations marks. The opposition claim the government is on the "path to dictatorship" , but they have claimed that ever since Chavez first won the democratic vote back in 1998 and there is still no evidence for it. The opposite in fact, if you take the new, more democratic constitution and the promotion of institutions like the communal councils. You could just as easily put a quote in there from the government or a government supporter along the lines of "Not being silenced". It would be slanted in favour of the government, sure, but it would also be the truth and not a slander.]
From that moment, midnight on Sunday, Venezuelans will be able to tune into a new state-run channel.

[No. No. Still no. It just isn't true. But repeat enough and people assume it is.]
Of course that is what has angered so many thousands of people here.
[Except that the thing said to be angering “many thousands of people” isn't true! And the repeated use of lies and slander in the RCTV case has ALSO angered many thousands, at the very least, of OTHER people, but don't report that. Don't report that the Venezuelan government research shows over 600 similar cases around the world where a government has used its legal right not to renew a concession to broadcast on a state-owned airwave, without being condemned and slandered as Venezuela is right now. Or that in Peru in April this year six media outlets were closed down, but I have seen absolutely NO evidence that ANY of those raising their voices about the supposed attack on free speech in Venezuela have said a single word about this. If ever there was good evidence that what is behind this RCTV campaign has nothing to do with free speech, but is a cover for another agenda, one driven by those with powerful interests threatened by the peaceful and democratic revolution being led by the Chavez government, it is this.]
Protesters say President Hugo Chavez is limiting freedom of expression and taking the country down the path of dictatorship.
But the president maintains he has the right to silence a channel that he says actively tries to undermine his government.
[The protesters make a claim with no evidence to back it up. This is reported followed by a defence made by the president that... he has never made! He has never defended himself form this accusation by claiming he has a right to "silence" RCTV. How much more outrageous can you get! Have Chavez defending a position he doesn’t hold and actions he hasn’t taken, all in words he has never said!
What he HAS said is that the elected government has no obligation to automatically renew a licence that is expired, and that it has INSTEAD an obligation to ensure who ever is granted the privilege will use it responsibly within the bounds of Venezuelan law, something RCTV has failed to do while enjoying the privilege for the last 20 years. But the story stops sounding so good when expressed in those terms.
With huge protests planned this weekend, security in the city is tight.In a show of force, dozens of military vehicles have filed through the roads of Caracas in a slow-moving cavalcade.
[Maybe security is tight because security forces have found caches of weapons in the homes of oppositionists just last week. And because just a couple of weeks ago bombs were set off in shopping centres. And intelligence suggests fresh evidence of a plot against the president's life. In fact the government has claimed to uncovered evidence of destabilisation plot aiming to use the RCTV case as a cover. (See link here)is was given credence when some from the opposition demonstration on May 27 opened fire on police.

But don't provide the context, just imply the city is virtually under military control.]
Mr Chavez has warned his followers that the country is under threat from those opposed to his militant rule.
[Not, the security forces have collected evidence that extremist sectors in an opposition that has organised a military coup, brought the country to its knees in a two month-long sabotage of the oil industry are planning to use opposition protests as a pretext for terrorist attacks like those that occurred in recent weeks. No, Chavez said the country is under threat from those "opposed to his militant rule".

That is, the implication is Chavez is saying that the country is under threat from those who engage in peaceful protests, which he hasn’t said. It blurs the lines by not being specific about what Chavez has said, leaving the suggestion that Chavez is saying anyone opposed to him is a threat. Which of course he has hasn't said.

And "opposed to his militant rule". The term "militant" is thrown in a way that isn't for most governments. The Chavez government could be considered "militant" on a number of issues, such as a militant determination to provide free health care and education to the whole population, a militant determination to use the oil wealth to benefit the majority not the corporate rich based in the US and Europe, a militant determination to reduce poverty etc.

But that is beside the point. It is the hypocrisy of how the BBC singles out Chavez for special treatment designed to poison the reader's view of him. The BBC does not refer to the Bush's "militant rule", although the Bush administration is clearly "militant" on many things, things many BBC readers would view as more morally dubious, to say the least, than the issues that provoke militancy from Chavez.

Also "opposed to his militant rule", not opposed to the elected government and the constitutional order, which is the actual way the Venezuelan government presents it. Chavez has always been clear - you don't have to like or agree with him, you just have to respect Venezuela's democracy and rule of the constitutional adopted by the people. He was, after all, just re-elected with the largest single number of votes in Venezuelan history in elections very closely observed by observers from around the world and which all, including the opposition, acknowledged were legitimate and without fraud.

Maybe not the worst BBC article on Venezuela and the Chavez government ever. But still atrocious.]

1 Com:

korova | June 01, 2007

Nice one. I spotted that too. Luckily, I managed to grab a screen shot before they changed it. Feel free to reproduce it if you so wish.

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