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BBC distorts Venezuela news

by Calvin Tucker

[This provides a good indication of how the corporate media, across the board, distort coverage of Venezuela. Facts that show the government in a positive light are routinely covered as "the governement claims". Actually, it is usually "However, the government claims...", because they almost always report the opposition side first. "However the government accuses RCTV of backing a coup..." - a very common comment in recent times. Yes, the government accuses RCTV of backing a coup. RCTV actually did back a coup.]

SOURCE: 21st Century Socialism

BBC distorts Venezuela news

The BBC’s Caracas correspondent has been at it again. 'It' being the use of clever journalistic tricks that leave the reader with the impression that the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, is a dictator-in-waiting.

Correspondent James Ingham doesn’t tell lies. He’s way too subtle for that. What he does instead is omit crucial facts, and report actual facts as mere "claims" or "accusations".

Take the case of RCTV, the Venezuelan TV station which failed to get its licence renewed because, as a matter of incontrovertible fact, it participated in a coup against the elected government of Hugo Chavez.

Ingham’s reporting introduces an element of doubt in the role played by RCTV:

"He [Chavez] says they were involved in a coup that nearly toppled him five years ago." ('Venezuelans protest over TV issue,' BBC Online, May 27, 2007)

Here, Ingham has relegated a hard fact to the status of an opinion. You might choose to believe what Chavez says. Or you might not. One of the reasons you might not is because the Western media has worked hard to discredit anything Chavez says.

In yesterday’s BBC Online, Ingham reported on what he said was Hugo Chavez’s “plans to form a single political party in Venezuela .”

This was followed by a warning that “critics worry about the threat to plurality” and later by the factual statement that “ Venezuela 's parliament, the National Assembly, is made up purely of politicians who support the president.”

Readers were left to draw the obvious and damning conclusion that Venezuela was set to become a one-party state, one in which opposing voices have already been effectively silenced.

But, this being James Ingham, all is not what it seems.

Critically, Ingham omitted to mention that the sole reason the opposition is not represented in the National Assembly is because they boycotted the last elections. Elections, which international observers had declared “free and fair”. Context is everything.

Chavez is indeed forming a new party. What Ingham didn’t say was that the aim is for it to become the united political party of the left, not the only political party in the country. It is to be called the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV for short. Right wing opposition parties (and left parties which choose not to join) remain completely free to stand candidates in all elections.

But you wouldn’t know any of that from reading James Ingham’s report. The facts have become submerged in a sea of anti-Chavez inuendo.

The BBC's editorial guidelines say:

"We strive to be accurate and establish the truth of what has happened... Our output will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language."

Readers who are unhappy about the BBC's failure to apply its own guidelines to its reporting of Venezuela may consider writing to the BBC using this complaint form:

[Posted by Carlo Sands]

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