The Guardian has been accused of ‘propaganda’ over its coverage of an important vote

Ed Sykes — The Canary July 31, 2017

The Guardian has been accused of “propaganda” over its coverage of an important vote. And it’s not the only media outlet to face such accusations.

As The Canary has reported previously, Venezuela is in the middle of a political crisis. And the US – which has sought to destabilise the government of the oil-rich country for many years – has been egging on the unrest. But far from exposing this interference, the world’s mainstream media has actually been echoing the anti-government line.

The Guardian is just the latest media outlet to be called out for its coverage.

Accusations aimed at The Guardian

On 25 July (ahead of an important vote in Venezuela), journalistic collective  Investig’Action published a piece called The Guardian’s propaganda on Venezuela: all you need to know. The article criticises a piece in The Guardian titled Venezuela to vote amid crisis: all you need to know. In particular, it says:

instead of breaking through the fog of falsehood and misinformation that is typical of the mainstream media’s coverage of Venezuela, the Guardian comes up with another propaganda piece laden with lies, distortions and omissions.

The critique also insists that The Guardian:

brings in the propaganda artillery to ensure the reader’s conclusions do not stray too far off from those of the [US] State Department.

This particular criticism relates to the paper’s talk about anticipated voter turnout in the election; with other evidence bringing into question The Guardian‘s line on the issue.

There’s also the issue of the paper using careful language in order to avoid lying. Its piece said, for example, that “violence and state repression have escalated since [May], with more than 100 people killed and hundreds arrested”. But as Investig’Action points out:

Overall, the accusation is that The Guardian omitted facts and context, while leading its readers with emotive language. And as Investig’Action argues:

In summary, the Guardian is passing a pure propaganda piece under the guise of clarifying the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections in Venezuela.

Media outlets serving the interests of US interventionists?

And it’s not just The Guardian which seems to have taken a clear anti-government line. TeleSur also spoke of how:

International media outlets rushed to discredit the vote, sharing grossly misrepresentative accounts…

In its analysis, it mentions outlets from The New York Times to CNN, and from The Washington Post to the BBC.

While even government supporters recognise that some blame for Venezuela’s crisis lies with the government, the mainstream media bias is nothing new. Western political elites have long sought to portray the current Venezuelan government as a dictatorship (in spite of previous praise from renowned professors and public figures for the country’s democratic system). And corporate media outlets have joined in – some more subtly than others. In doing so, they’ve essentially echoed the rhetoric of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition; while failing to criticise it where appropriate.

And this all comes in a context of US hostility. Washington, for example, has placed sanctions on Venezuela for at least a year, and President Barack Obama even declared the country a national security threat in 2015 (although it had never attacked the US). President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has said his administration “will do whatever is necessary… to help with fixing” the situation in Venezuela. This ‘fixing’ has effectively meant more sanctions, and threats of even more if the recent vote went ahead (which it did); the suspension of flights to Venezuela; openly supporting Venezuela’s controversial right-wing leaders; and CIA Director Mike Pompeo revealing his cooperation with Latin American allies to secure a “transition” in Venezuela.

All of this comes in spite of UN calls to respect Venezuela’s electoral processes.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Washington’s decades-long policy of manipulating Latin American politics is still alive and kicking. In the past, it meant coups against elected governments and support for right-wing dictatorships. Today, the rules may be a bit different because of higher scrutiny, but the overall aim is the same: to keep its backyard under the control of malleable allies rather than independent adversaries. And this is particularly true when a country (like Venezuela) is not a US ally and has massive oil reserves.

Venezuela is definitely in crisis. And the sooner a solution comes, the better for the Venezuelan people. But according to a recent poll, citizens overwhelmingly oppose the country’s violent protests and any international intervention to remove President Nicolás Maduro. This is probably because most people are aware of the polarising effect that previous interventions have had; and they know that further international hostility will likely make things worse rather than better.

The Venezuelan people deserve peace; and they deserve the chance to solve their problems democratically, without interference from powerful foreign forces like the US. But we shouldn’t expect mainstream media outlets like The Guardian to take a stand against such interference any time soon.

Sophisticated newspapers like the Guardian are careful not to state directly that everyone was killed by state repression, only heavily implying it. A breakdown of the cases shows that it is the opposition’s political violence that has been responsible for the large majority of casualties.

Indeed, TeleSur published the following infogram on 30 July. This shows that a small minority of deaths have been at the hands of security forces, while a number of cases are still under investigation:

Overall, the accusation is that The Guardian omitted facts and context, while leading its readers with emotive language. And as Investig’Action argues:

In summary, the Guardian is passing a pure propaganda piece under the guise of clarifying the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections in Venezuela.

 

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