FAIR v. Scoundrel Media Misreporting on Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting  (FAIR) is a "national media watch group." It's an "anti-censorship organization."
It features "neglected news stories." It "defend(s) working journalists when they are muzzled."
It prioritizes truth and full disclosure. Since 1986, it's held media scoundrel feet to the fire.
It exposes their managed news misinformation. It does so in their own words. It hoists them on their own petard.
"What's Wrong with the News ," it asked? Democratic freedom requires independent journalism. People have a right to know. Media scoundrels support wealth, power, privilege and dominance.
They're "cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watchdogging." They support what demands condemnation. Freedom demands much better.
FAIR reports regularly on major world and national issues. It discusses what people most need to know. It covers Venezuela and Chavez. It exposes media lies and distortions.
For the past month, Chavez has been recovering from complicated cancer surgery. It's his fourth in 18 months. He's getting superb care in Havana. Media scoundrels don't quit.
On January 12, The New York Times  headlined "Venezuela Warns Opposition Against Vocal Dissent."
False! Venezuela is the hemisphere's most open society. Free expression is cherished. America pales by comparison. The Times claims otherwise.
"Top government officials are threatening to take action against opposition governors," it said.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro's comments were twisted. He warned against "destabilizing adventures." He said "take care not to get involved in coups."
He has every right to say so. Washington orchestrated a failed 2002 coup. For 14 years, it's worked disruptively with hardline opposition elements. They want Chavez ousted. He believes they want him dead.
Times articles, commentaries and editorials target him relentlessly. So do other media scoundrels. John Pilger once said:
"Never has a country, its people, its politics, its leader, its myths and truths been so misreported and lied about as Venezuela in the past decade."
"It is not unusual for Venezuelan officials to threaten or lash out at the opposition," said The Times. It cited a Venezuelan right-wing newspaper. Tal Cual targeted Maduro. It headlined "The Usurper."
It said another opposition broadsheet, El Nacional, headlined "The new term starts with legality questioned."
It quoted former ambassador Vladimir Villegas. He's a turncoat. He betrayed Chavez and Bolivarian progressivism. He sold out for whatever benefits he derives. He criticizes what he should support. He turned truth on its head.
He said government officials "can't live without an enemy. The confrontation with the opposition holds them together."
Chavez and other government officials value good relations globally. They seek them by doing the right things responsibly.
FAIR reports often on New York Times managed news misinformation. Earlier it headlined "Hyping the Venezuela Threat. " It cited The New York Times.
It falsely claimed Venezuelan military spending threatens regional stability. Venezuela's 2012 GDP is about $320 billion. It allocates less than 1.2% on military spending.
It's pocket change compared to America. Including Homeland Security and other defense related categories, Washington spends over $1.5 trillion annually.
Times correspondent Simon Romero lied. He said:
"Venezuela's arms spending….transform(ed) the nation into Latin America's largest weapons buyer…." He compared Venezuela to Iran and Pakistan. Doing so has no relevance whatever.
His comments stoked fear. His source was Pentagon intelligence. Its credibility is sorely lacking. Romero showed what side he's on. He twisted truth. He suppressed what readers need to know.
"Why," asked FAIR? "Perhaps because (reporting accurately) would (have) undermined the article's entire point." It would have exposed Romera as a liar. It's habitual with him and other Times correspondents.
On December 13, FAIR headlined "Does Hugo Chavez Keep Fooling Venezuelans? " It cited a previous day New York Times story.
It headlined "Of Many Woes, One Man's Illness Threatens Venezuela's Revolution," suggesting:
Life in Venezuela is dismal. Chavistas keep reelecting them. They must have some kind of problem. It said:
"(F)rustrations are typical in Venezuela, for rich and poor alike, and yet (Chavez) managed to stay in office for nearly 14 years, winning over a significant majority of the public with his outsize personality, his free-spending of state resources and his ability to convince Venezuelans that the Socialist revolution he envisions will make their lives better."
On January 8, Russia Today  reported on Venezuelan opportunity. Immigrants flock there for good reason. They arrive from America and elsewhere.
They seek what's unavailable at home. They want a better life and find it. Venezuela "is sweeter for migrants searching for a better future," said RT.
In 2010, one million immigrants arrived. Rosa is one. "After decades of struggling in America, she decided to start anew in Venezuela."
She's not disappointed. In America, you're alone, she said. "Nobody helps you there."
"In Caracas, the helping hand came from the government." She got financial help to start a small business. Her new home was subsidized.
"That's why" she and others see Venezuela "as a place" of opportunity. She found none el norte. She left for something better.
Vital necessities are provided. They include free healthcare and education to the highest levels, subsidized food and housing, land reform, micro credit, affordable electricity and cooking gas, gasoline at 7 cents a gallon, and other social, economic, and political benefits.
America gave her force-fed austerity. Government serves business and privileged elites. Bolivarianism helps everyone.
For Rosa and other immigrants, Venezuela resembles paradise. It has Latin America's lowest inequality level. Media scoundrels don't explain.
Bolivarianism benefits get swept under the rug. Venezuelans love Chavez for good reason. From 1980 through 1998, personal income fell 14%. Under Chavez, it's risen impressively.
Venezuela's most disadvantaged are better off than earlier times in their life. TimesSpeak claims otherwise.
"He used price controls to make food affordable," it said. It "contributed to shortages in basic goods. He created a popular program of neighborhood clinics often staffed by Cuban doctors, but hospitals frequently lack basic equipment."
On August 20, 2012, Venezuela Analysis  headlined "Chavez Opens Two New Hospitals," saying:
Doing so followed another earlier in the year. They're "high tech medical facilities." They're state-of-the-art. They're "true hospitals of the twenty-first century."
In Petare, Miranda state alone, Ana Francisca Perez de Leon II Hospital serves about "one million people."
They'll benefit from "an intensive care unit, an emergency room, a surgery wing, a government pharmacy, a blood bank, a dentistry unit and classrooms for medical students, as well as many other services."
China supplied "state-of-the-art" equipment. Social programs vice president Yadira Cordova said:
"This hospital," and others like it, reflect "a triumph for the Revolution and the people, and is a commitment to continuing to build the national healthcare system" responsibly.
Imagining getting first-class treatment when ill. Imagine getting it free. Imagine it made universal. Imagine Venezuelans getting what Americans can't imagine.
Instead of explaining, Times and other media scoundrels suppress truth. They deny readers and viewers what they most need to know. Doing so betrays the public trust. Life is better in Venezuela. They refuse to say.
Reality is distorted. It's done to make good times seem bad. "(M)arket-friendly policies" could have done better, it's claimed. Venezuela's dark past reveals otherwise.
Earlier FAIR reports explained more. On October 10, it headlined "CNN Exposes 'Villain' Chavez's Dastardly Plot to House the Poor. "
David Frum lies for a living. He (t)ook the cake," saying:
"Venezuela's authoritarian president Hugo Chavez is a villain out of a Batman movie: buffoonish and sinister in equal measure."
Venezuelans get subsidized affordable housing. "Only a supervillain could conceive of so dastardly a plot," said FAIR.
On October 9, FAIR headlined "What Are Enemies For?: Iran Sham Helps PBS Smear Chavez. "
"It's no secret" that US media scoundrels deplore Chavez. Public broadcasting and radio are as bad as others. He "cozie(s) up the world's most isolated regimes," claimed (Lehrer Hour) PBS host Ray Suarez.
He "thwart(s)" America's agenda. He supports Iran's "pursuit of nuclear weapons." Americans get this type round-the-clock misinformation all the time. Lies substitute for truth.
On January 8, FAIR headlined "Venezuelans Continue to Defy Washington Post ." The broadsheet abhors Chavismo.
"Venezuelans are bracing themselves for the death of the caudillo who has ruled them - and wrecked their once-prosperous country - over the past 13 years."
Bolivarianism works. Venezuelans benefit hugely. Post editors suppress truth. Beneficial social change "doesn't sit will with" them, said FAIR.
On January 11, FAIR headlined "Hugo Chavez: Why Does He Hate Us? "
Suarez again targeted him. He's paid to lie and distort. He spurns accuracy and full disclosure. He shames himself in the process. He has lots of company. He said:
Chavez "antagonized Washington, it seemed, whenever he could, forging friendships with Iran's Mahmoud Abbas, Syria's embattled Bashar al-Assad, and he formed an especially close bond with Cuban Presidents Fidel and Raul Castro."
According to CBS Evening News host Scott Pelley:
"Chavez has made a career out of bashing the United States and allied himself with Iran and Syria."
Washington Post writer Juan Forero said:
"A central ideological pillar of Chavez's rule over 14 years has been to oppose Republican and Democratic administrations in Washington, which he accuses of trying to destabilize his government."
Last July, the State Department said the following:
"It is clear that NED (National Endowment for Democracy), Department of Defense (DOD) and other U.S. assistance programs provided training, institution building and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster of the Chavez government."
Earlier Forero admitted that:
"The Central Intelligence Agency was aware that dissident military officers and opposition figures in Venezuela were planning a coup against President Hugo Chavez in 2002, newly declassified intelligence documents show."
"But immediately after the overthrow, the Bush administration blamed Mr. Chavez, a left-leaning populist, for his own downfall and denied knowing about the threats."
Former Washington Post former foreign editor Scott Wilson appeared in Oliver Stone's South of the Border film.
"Yes," he said, "America host(ed) people involved in the coup before it happened."
"There was involvement of U.S.-sponsored NGOs in training some of the people that were involved in the coup."
"And in the immediate aftermath of the coup, the United States government said that it was a resignation, not a coup, effectively recognizing the government that took office very briefly until President Chavez returned."
"And we know that the United States made quick efforts to have the coup government recognized as legitimate."
"The Bush government, immediately after the coup, blamed it on Chavez. And some of the coup plotters met with officials at the US embassy in Caracas before they acted."
"(T)he important thing for readers to know, according to Wilson's successors at the Washington Post, is that US officials deny they supported anything."
Most important is Washington's destructive imperium. Regime change targets independent leaders. It wants pro-Western puppets replacing them. It want neoliberal harshness institutionalized.
It wants what most Venezuelans won't tolerate. They're courageous enough to put their bodies on the line to defend what's too important to lose. Determination that strong can prevail.
Media scoundrels won't explain. They're on the wrong side of history. Avoid them at all costs. Choose reliable alternative sources instead. Follow them daily. Stay current on what matters most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.