do the mass media engage in government propaganda? – 2

3 December, 2007

venezuelans yesterday went to vote on two constitutional reform packages. mass media furore was particularly evoked by the proposal to remove the presidential term limit. neither of the two packages made it through the referendum.

judging by the venom aimed at venezuelan president hugo chavez, such as doubting his democratic credentials and claiming dictatorial tendencies, the country is effectively an authoritarian dictatorship. bypassing the obvious question what role referendums play in a dictatorship, here is another thought exercise.

here is hugo chavez’s reaction to his referendum defeat according to the bbc:

“To those who voted against my proposal, I thank them and congratulate them,” he said. “I ask all of you to go home, know how to handle your victory.”

cbs posted a ‘light’ version of this, reporting rather chavez’s reaction after voting instead of his official announcement as quoted earlier:

“I’m very sure that everything is going to go very well,” Chavez said after voting, holding his newborn grandson in his arms. “We’re going to accept the results, whatever they are.”

at the same time, cbs did not fail to underline what would have happened if the constitutional reform packages would have passed – a remarkable way to ignore the facts on the ground:

In addition to extending Chavez’ ability to repeatedly run for office, the proposed constitutional changes would have improved his odds, by allowing him to suspend civil liberties and handpick local leaders under a redrawn political map.

(bonus points to those who observed that the us president already enjoys these two benefits.)

would it not have been correct for cbs to note that their earlier accusations regarding chavez’s dictatorial tendencies have been proven wrong by his official reaction?

does it mean that they will continue this miss-characterisation of hugo chavez despite his actions, failing this opportunity to straighten their record? if it does, are they playing the corporate and government card in demonising a figure they are afraid of?

to summarise: having lost the referendum, chavez accepts the results. cbs insists on accusing him of being a closet dictator in the face of evidence to the contrary. are their opinions more important than facts on the ground?

clearly, i cannot look into the future (unlike cbs, who are even able to predict what would have happened if chavez had won the referendum), so i can only hope the situation in venezuela will remain as stable as it looks right now.

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