Alan MacLeod looks at the role of the media in the regime change operation in Venezuela
by Alan MacLeod
Part 3 - Coverage of two elections: A case study
Using this paired example method to test the propaganda model I studied Western media coverage of the 2018 elections in Colombia – a key U.S. ally – and Venezuela, a sworn enemy. In Colombia, the conservative Ivan Duque triumphed; in Venezuela, the socialist Maduro won.
The elections in Colombia took place under a heightened state of terror, with the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro narrowly surviving an assassination attempt and right-wing paramilitaries issuing generalized threats to those who tried to vote for him. The incumbent conservative party under President Alvaro Uribe had massacred over 10,000 civilians, while American election observers, such as University of Pittsburgh law professor Daniel Kovalik, were mistaken for voters and offered bribes to vote for Duque. There were over 250 official electoral fraud complaints.
The mainstream media, however, overwhelmingly endorsed the elections in the U.S.-ally state, presenting it as a moment of hope for the country and downplaying any negative aspects, especially violence. CNN reported that "though there have been isolated incidents of violence related to the election, they have been minimal." The Associated Press went further, claiming the real danger facing Colombia was that Petro would push the country "dangerously to the left" while NPR described Alvaro Uribe as "immensely popular," and failed to mention any connection to the massacres his government had implemented.
In contrast, the mainstream media virtually unanimously presented the simultaneously occurring elections in Venezuela as a travesty, the "coronation of a dictator," according to The Independent. Other major outlets described them as "heavily rigged," "the fortification of a dictatorship" and a "farce cementing autocracy." The Miami Herald called them "fraudulent," a "sham," a "charade" and a "joke" in one column alone.
There were certainly some questionable aspects to the Venezuelan election. However, the idea of a full-blown "sham election" was flatly contradicted by every international election observation organization monitoring the elections, many of whom produced detailed reports attesting to their exemplary organization and implementation. There were a number of prominent international observers monitoring the 2018 elections, including former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, who said he "did not have any doubt about the voting process" and the ex-President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who declared the “impeccably organized” elections proceeded with "absolute normalcy."
But you would have been hard pressed to find any acknowledgment of this in Western media outlets.