Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), February 9, 2019
The Trump administration’s now completely overt effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a very successful public relations effort this week, as major Western media outlets uniformly echoed its simplistic, pre-packaged claim that the Venezuelan government was heartlessly withholding foreign aid:
- Tensions Rise as Venezuela Blocks Border Bridge in Standoff Over Aid (CNN, 2/7/19)
- Maduro Blocks Critical Aid Sent to Venezuela (CNN, 2/7/19)
- Aid Arrives at Venezuela Border as US Demands Maduro Let It In (ABC News, 2/7/19)
- Venezuela Crisis: Pompeo Demands Aid Corridor Opened (BBC, 2/7/19)
- The US Says Maduro Is Blocking Aid to Starving People. The Venezuelan Says His People Aren’t Beggars. (Washington Post, 2/8/19)
- Humanitarian Aid Arrives for Venezuela — But Maduro Blocks It (NPR, 2/8/19)
All of the above articles—and scores more like it—repeated the same script: Maduro was blocking aid from the US “out of refusal to relinquish power,” preferring to starve “his own people” rather than feed them. It’s a simple case of good and evil—of a tyrannical, paranoid dictator not letting in aid to feed a starving population.
Except three pieces of key context are missing. Context that, when presented to a neutral observer, would severely undermine the cartoonish narrative being advanced by US media.
- Both the Red Cross and UN warned the US not to engage in this aid PR stunt.
- The bridge in question is a visual metaphor contrived by the Trump administration of little practical relevance.
- The person in charge of US operations in Venezuela has a history of using aid as a cover to deliver weapons to right-wing mercenaries.
(1) Not only has the international aid community not asked for the “aid,” earlier this week, both the International Red Cross and United Nations warned the US to explicitly not engage in these types of PR stunts. As Washington Post contributor Vincent Bevins pointed out, the transparent cynicism of these efforts was preemptively warned about by the groups actually charged with keeping starving people fed:
Red Cross Warns US About Risks of Sending Aid to Venezuela (PBS NewsHour, 2/1/19):
The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned the United States about the risks of delivering humanitarian aid to Venezuela without the approval of security forces loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.
UN Warns Against Politicizing Humanitarian Aid in Venezuela (Reuters, 2/6/19):
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations warned on Wednesday against using aid as a pawn in Venezuela after the United States sent food and medicine to the country’s border and accused President Nicolas Maduro of blocking its delivery with trucks and shipping containers.
Indeed, as Bevins also noted, the Red Cross has long been working with local authorities inside Venezuela to deliver relief, and just last week doubled its budget to do so. We have ample evidence the Maduro government is more than willing to work with international aid when it’s offered in good faith, not when it’s a thinly veiled mechanism to spur civil war and contrive PR victories for those seeking to overthrow the government. It’s not just Maduro—as the Western media are presenting it—who opposes the US aid convoy; it’s the UN and Red Cross. Why do none of the above reports note this rather key piece of information, instead giving the reader the impression it’s only the stance of a sadistic, power-hungry madman? ...
Read full article at FAIR