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‘Sexy tricks’: How journalists demonize Venezuela’s socialist government, in their own words

Journalists revealed to me the tactics they use to sell stories painting Venezuela as a socialist dystopia. One described himself as a “mercenary,” explaining how he aims to please his employer’s funders.

by Alan MacLeod

Part 2 - From Venezuelan prophylactic to whitewashing Bolivia’s coup

On the back of his coverage of Venezuela, Anatoly Kurmanaev has risen rapidly through the ranks of his industry to a post at the supposed newspaper of record, the New York Times, whose editorial board recently applauded the US-backed military coup in Bolivia that ousted Evo Morales.

Generals appeared on television demanding the newly re-elected Morales step down. Their handpicked replacement Janine Añez immediately pre-exonerated security forces of any crimes in the “re-establishment of order”, leading to massacres of dozens of indigenous protestors.

In the New York Times, Kurmanaev soft-pedaled those events as Morales’ “resignation” – not the military coup that had unfolded in plain sight. According to the correspondent’s narrative, which conveniently echoed Washington’s official line, the ouster of Morales left a “power vacuum” that a reluctant Añez was forced to fill with a “transitional government.”

As the Bolivian junta cuts down and jails its opponents in droves, the Times has resorted to increasingly contorted language to avoid using the apparently forbidden term: “coup.

Violent protests over a disputed election that he claimed to win, and after he had lost the backing of the military and the police,” was the reporter’s most recent attempt to characterize the events that forced Morales from power.

In whitewashing a putsch and subsequent campaign of repression waged by avowedly racist, right-wing forces, Kurmanaev was far from alone. Across the mainstream spectrum, media outlets have welcomed the coup, framing the military’s ouster of an elected head of state as a “resignation” while downplaying the massacres as merely “clashes.

Inside Bolivia, meanwhile, the oligarch-owned “sellout press” has been assisting in the roundup and suppression of alternative media.

As The Grayzone contributor Wyatt Reed reported from La Paz, a crowd of journalists harassed and detained an independent reporter, handing him over to the death squads that have been terrorizing the country for the last two weeks, in retaliation for his refusal to tow the junta’s line.

Reed called this “a complete betrayal of what it is supposed to mean to be a journalist.

Añez’s forces have arrested and disappeared political and media opponents, “hunting down” the “animals” (their words) and forcing virtually every critical voice off the air.

In Venezuela the local media actually led the coup attempt against President Hugo Chávez in 2002. “Not one step backwards!” read the front page headline of El Nacional, one of the country’s most important newspapers. The headquarters of the putsch was at the mansion of Gustavo Cisneros, owner of the Venevisión TV network.

One coup leader appeared on television after what appeared to be a successful operation saying, “We were short of communications facilities and I have to thank the media for their solidarity and cooperation.

Vice-Admiral Ramírez Pérez told Venevisión, “We had a deadly weapon: the media. And now that I have the opportunity, let me congratulate you.

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