Thursday, June 14, 2007

Media Lens Exposes Media Frenzy Over Chavez

Media Lens has a very interesting alert regarding the feeding frenzy over RCTV's licence. Central to the argument is the repeated doubt cast over RCTV's role in the 2002 coup. According to the alert:

A consistent theme of media reporting has been to ascribe this "accusation" to Chavez personally. Thus the Independent wrote of the “station, which Mr Chavez believes was plotting against him”. (‘Anti-Chavez protesters clash with police,’ The Independent, May 29, 2007)

The Times reported: “President Chavez withdrew its licence, accusing the network of ‘coup plotting‘”. (Philp, op. cit)

Likewise the Financial Times: “Chavez has repeatedly alleged that it supported the [2002] coup...” (Richard Lapper, ‘TV channel axed in latest Chavez drama,’ Financial Times, May 26, 2007)

And the BBC: “He [Chavez] says they were involved in a coup that nearly toppled him five years ago.” (James Ingham, ‘Venezuelans protest over TV issue,’ BBC Online, May 27, 2007; http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/ fr/-/1/hi/world/americas/6695769.stm)

These media reports thus all distort the truth by attributing a mere “claim” to Chavez, someone they have all previously demonised as an authoritarian “strongman”. This earlier demonisation acts to undermine the credibility of the charge against RCTV in readers’ minds, so reinforcing the bias of ostensibly balanced reporting against the Venezuelan government. Robert McChesney and Mark Weisbrot explain:

“This is a common means of distorting the news: a fact is reported as accusation, and then attributed to a source that the press has done everything to discredit.” (McChesney and Weisbrot, ‘Venezuela and the Media: Fact and Fiction,’ Common Dreams, June 1, 2007; http://www.commondreams.org/ archive/2007/06/01/1607/)

Read the full alert here.