teleSUR vs. the poor

How teleSUR became más neoliberal que el carajo.

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Since its inception, teleSUR acted as a propaganda machine for Venezuela to project a democratic image abroad. The station promised to occupy a unique space in Latin America’s public sphere by providing coverage from the perspective of the underprivileged. With its recent coverage of Venezuela, teleSUR defaulted on that mission, once again proving it exists only to serve Chavismo.

Today, teleSUR’s coverage of the worst crisis in Venezuela’s history da pena ajena. The “progressive” news outlet minimizes the effects of the crisis on Venezuelans, the majority who now live in poverty, and hasn’t so much as hinted that families need 15 minimum wages to afford the basic food basket. Instead, teleSUR is fixated on the idea that the mainstream media is exaggerating the crisis.

teleSUR’s slant isn’t always that obvious. On non-Venezuela topics, it reads like a relatively normal left-leaning station news station. Open www.teleSURtv.net and you might find articles on institutional racism in the U.S., the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa, or how the Gaza strip is in ruins.

These are alarming social issues, but in the magical world of teleSUR, only conservative governments are held responsible. In teleSUR’s Venezuela, food riots are merely an opposition strategy to generate social unrest. According to them, the average Venezuelan is fine; they ate enough to satisfy international standards in 2015. Forget that 16% of households stopped eating three times a day from February to April this year, and forget that the share of the population that isn’t eating properly is now 46.5%. Forget the constant looting for food. If you forget those marginalized by the government’s policies and the economy, averages tend to look alright.

teleSUR’s other coverage on Venezuela consists of fluff pieces that rhetorically emphasize equality and criticize conservative actors. “Venezuelan government continues to work for social equality” reads the headline of an article published last week, consisting entirely of statements from a PSUV official. Instead of examining the outcomes of policies to support the working class through the crisis, it repeats the same, tired, Chavista script about a “media war” and a “new era of social inclusion”.

Articles like these couldn’t have any more depth if they tried. In its stubbornness, the government no longer strives for social equality; it is merely preoccupied with its image. This is a “new era of social inclusion” in which 74% of Venezuelans do not benefit from CLAPs, Maduro’s latest plan to solve the scarcity crisis. And yes, these are numbers from Hinterlaces, a Chavista-leaning polling firm.

In arguing that “things in Venezuela are not as bad as Western media tells you,” teleSUR is being más neoliberal que el carajo. A station that claims to speak with and for the poor increasingly peddles arguments that make sense only if you’re privileged.

Seriously! No matter how much teleSUR denounces neoliberalism, it implicitly admits that economic austerity is necessary by being uncritical of the government’s measures to pay its debts and avoid default. Are the measures necessary in order to keep PDVSA afloat? Probably, yes. Still, teleSUR fails to point out that had the government saved up during the largest and longest oil windfall in Venezuela’s history, like other oil-dependent countries, the underprivileged would be suffering a lot less.

It has always been like this

A few weeks back, Juan pointed out how pro-government apologists can go through absurd lengths to make sense of the crisis. I wholeheartedly agree, but I think that what happens with teleSUR’s content is systematically different. At least Gabriel Hetland’s piece for The Nation tries to recognize the unequal way in which Venezuelans suffer from food scarcity, even if it poorly misses the mark elsewhere. Hetland may be an apologist, but his work is his own.

The same cannot be said for most of teleSUR’s work. The Venezuelan government has been the majority shareholder of the network since it was founded in 2005. Like the big media conglomerates it blames for the crisis, teleSUR protects a specific set of interests. When these interests are at odds with the beliefs that are tediously repeated in its own content, it’s the interests that win out.

Defenders of teleSUR argue that it offers an alternative point of view by standing up to imperial powers, rebelling against the economic interests of the global elite, and fighting for women and minorities. Sure…

Did teleSUR stand up to Maduro when he displaced Colombian migrants in an effort to control the bachaquerismo that Chavista policies created? It criticized the United States’ forced displacement of undocumented immigrants, so surely it must take the same stance in this case, right? Unfortunately, no. Like Donald Trump, teleSUR sells human rights violations as security measures.

Did it rebel against Maduro’s monopolistic ambitions when he used military threats to prevent Guyana from competing in regional oil markets? Nope. They sided with the world’s largest oil reserves holder, Venezuela, and blamed the smaller country for the ongoing border dispute that the British actually started.

Where was their defense of women when Venezuelan judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni was raped in prison? Even Chomsky, highly critical of Western media, advocated for her release. At the time, teleSUR argued the story was used to disparage Venezuela. A couple months back, Afiuni’s eventual release was casually cited as the result of “poor health conditions”.

*sigh* verga…

teleSUR claims it’s not subject to “capitalist” industry norms because it foregoes commercial advertising. Even so, by relying on the Venezuelan government for the majority of its funding, it’s a pawn of Chavismo’s hemispheric chess game. Its subjugation to Maduro’s agenda makes it as unreliable as Fox News.

But this article is just another effort by international media to destabilize Venezuela, right? I’m a 23 year old kid writing this for free. Get at me, teleSUR.

31 COMMENTS

  1. “But this article is just another effort by international media to destabilize Venezuela, right? I’m a 23 year old kid writing this for free. Get at me, teleSUR.”

    This is a great way to end the article! 😀

    However, I take issue with calling state propaganda neo-liberalism. If history tells us anything, it is communist and other autocratic regimes that mastered the art of propaganda. Orwell was not writing about the USA or the troika when he wrote 1984. 😉

  2. “As unreliable as Fox News”

    If Venezuela had one extremely strong private TV channel like Fox News, one media stronghold breaking the media hegemony in the hands of the government, criticising without fear the ruling class, inciting the people against the abuse they suffer, promoting debates with different points of view — where is the equivalent of Geraldo Rivera at Telesur? Where is the equivalent of Alan Colmes at Telesur? –, Venezuela would hardly have reached such state, and even if it had, it would already have deposed the government by now.

    So, sorry, but Telesur has nothing to do with Fox News, you will only find parallels with such bizarre propaganda-lying machine in places like Cuba, Russia and North Korea. Telesur is not a normal left-wing TV channel on Venezuelan topics nor on international, that would be CNN, or BBC; of course, unless one believes in things like Uribe and the CIA and the Pope plotting to blow up Miraflores with a goddamn super-tucano, hehe.

    • “As unreliable as Fox News”
      Undoubtedly, considering Venezuela leans on military to combat food shortages

      CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s Defense Minister is getting a major promotion as the socialist-run country struggles to combat severe shortages and stave off food riots.

      President Nicolas Maduro on Monday night said he was creating a new government initiative to boost production and guarantee the smooth distribution of food supplies. He says that what is called the Great Mission of Sovereign Supplying will be headed by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, who will coordinate the work of every ministry.

      The military historically has been the arbiter of disputes in Venezuela and the move comes at a moment when polls show Maduro is deeply unpopular. Since taking office, Maduro has enhanced the military’s power and handed it key Cabinet posts with control over the economy.

      Totally unreliable. 🙂

      • The author of this article is still at the stage of “the only reliable news are those coming from the liberal/leftist media.”

  3. As unreliable as Fox News

    I am reminded of the time I commented about Venezuela on a US website. One commenter replied that I must have gotten my information about Venezuela from Fox News. My reply was no, I got my news about Venezuela from Caracas Chronicles, Devil’s Excrement, and Venezuela News and Views. CC: how do you like being compared to a news source “as unreliable as Fox News?” Just wondering. 🙂

    • I believe that people who say that don’t actually watch Fox News, it’s just their way to make sure that, although they criticise the left, they shouldn’t be lumped together with us, evil right-wing demons that believe in terrible things like rule of the law and capitalism. No, they are one cut above, they are special.

      I defy the writer of this text, allegedly possessing aB.A. in Sociology from Harvard, to watch 1 hour of Telesur and 1 hour of Fox News, and then come here and say with a straight face that both are the same. Let’s see how intellectually honest he is with the readers of this site.

      • Marc, trust me, that is not why most intelligent people dislike Fox News (i.e.: evil, right-wing demons that believe in terrible things like the rule of law and capitalism). The reason is that their views constantly get in the way of providing us readers/watchers with accurate information. See, every media channel in the world has a slant and that’s okay actually, but what is not okay is consistently giving clowns airtime and giving us over-exaggerated news just to justify their editorial opinions. That’s nasty man, and that is why we dislike Fox News in the same exact light we dislike TeleSUR.

        • “is consistently giving clowns airtime and giving us over-exaggerated news just to justify their editorial opinions. ”

          But on Fox News it’s common to see people disagreeing with each other, and even with the “editorial line”. I’ve mentioned two names above of left-wing journalists working at Fox News, and asked for the equivalent at Telesur — that would be either a right-wing journalist or an oppositionist (pro-MUD) journalist, and I’m still waiting for the names, and I doubt that you will provide any argument to your emotionally driven assertion. You say that they “give clowns airtime”, when some of these “clowns” would be ideologically closer to you than me.

          “See, every media channel in the world has a slant and that’s okay actually, but what is not okay”

          What is not okay is to say things that you disagree with, right? A pro-goverment channel like CNN is actually much closer to Telesur than Fox News is, but although I can’t bear CNN’s for all their love for the Democrats, Obama, Hillary, anti-guns right, pro-abortion/pro-feminism agenda, etc, I would STILL not group CNN with Telesur, because, in spite of me not liking their editorial line and most of their journalists, I wouldn’t be dishonest enough to say that a propaganda-machine like telesur comparable to KCTV is similar to a normal left-ring channel like CNN. Unfortunately, some people won’t have the same prudence.

          • By the way, by relativizing how awful and criminal Telesur is, you end up helping the Venezuelan regime: “You see, it’s just a left-wing version of Fox News, no big deal.”

            Soon you guys will say that Maduro is just a left-wing version of a GOP politician.

            Besides being a lie, it helps the enemy.

          • I do agree with you in that there is a difference in degree in the unreliability of TeleSUR and that of Fox News and I am aware that Rivera or Colmes have no equal on TeleSUR. However, making comparisons between TeleSUR and Fox News/CNN (if existent) does not help the enemy, it’s never either-or and it shouldn’t be.

    • The unreliability of Fox News isn’t limited to their coverage of Venezuela. It’s pretty much all inclusive. So, in that sense, we welcome the comparison.

      • The unreliability of Fox News isn’t limited to their coverage of Venezuela
        Are you going to inform me that the Fox article I quoted was “unreliable?”

        So, in that sense, we welcome the comparison.
        The example I discussed was where the information I provided was from “reliable” sources- CC, DE, VN&V. The commenter did not agree with the information I provided and assumed that the information I got was therefore “unreliable” and therefore must have come from Fox News.

        Bullet point: a PSF decided that the easiest way to discount information about Venezuela was to say that information had come from Fox News- even though it hadn’t come from Fox News.

        Are you informing me that if one does not agree with the news presented that it is a logical conclusion that said news is “unreliable” and therefore must have come from Fox? 🙂

        I can provide many more examples of scoundrels like the above who scream FOX NEWS BAD in an attempt to justify their ignorance, poor reasoning abilities, or lies. As this is a forum for Venezuelan politics, not US politics, I will refrain. But the examples are myriad.

        As it is a decidedly inefficient way to acquire information, I never watched much TV news, and have abstained altogether for two decades. Newspapers, magazines, and later the Internet sufficed for me. My overall conclusion is that the “objectivity” of the 3 main networks in specific and of the MSM in general is a myth. [MSNBC?] Which is why I tend to discount denunciations of Fox News, as they usually are only about Fox and not about the rest. Not to mention scoundrels such as the above.

        OTOH, we all have our biases. Some have biases against Fox News. As a STEM person, I have a bias against sociology and “social science.” Nor is my “bias” without reason: Landmark study suggests that most psychology studies don’t yield reproducible results. I knew a sociologist with a Harvard Ph.D. who, while he adopted an air of bemusement at the ignorant fools beneath him, also was a bullshitter who had no problem with making statements which with a little digging could be readily refuted. We all have our biases.

        Martín Molina Hernández has his biases, I have mine.

      • It is amazing how many times I am told that I must get my information from Fox News. And I never watch Fox News.
        Which make me believe that either we are both idiots or we are both right.
        Conversely, I am never accused of getting my news from other networks.
        Of course, much of my info comes from CC, so I would believe that Fox and CC must have the same take on things.

  4. ” . . . teleSUR protects a specific set of interests. When these interests are at odds with the beliefs that are tediously repeated in its own content, it’s the interests that win out.”

    The kid is right about the Faux News/teleSUR comparison; the arguments are in there. Read the article instead of stomping the floor as a toddlers with that comentary rant.

  5. Telesur claims to present an alternate view unsullied by the biases of mainstream media, but it is in reality just a mouthpiece for power and as you indicate its silence on certain major issues, and distorted moral equivalence, show among other things, contempt for the poor and marginalized and contempt for the institutions of democracy.

    The comparison with Fox News is appropriate.

    • Telesur…is in reality just a mouthpiece for power …The comparison with Fox News is appropriate.

      Telesur is a mouthpiece for President Maduro.
      On a number of occasions, President Obama has denounced Fox News.
      Just sayin.’

  6. I still remember a time when the newspapers and the television news just reported the news. They didn’t editorialize, except when specifically labeled “editorial”. There was a very clear distinction on this. When a breaking story came, they broke in to the ongoing program, told us what they knew, and said they would come back when they knew more. They did not speculate. We didn’t have endless talking heads telling what they think about they news, and by extension, what we should think about the news. They mostly left it up to us to decide what the news meant.

    I am not saying it was perfect, nor am I saying that journalists didn’t have an agenda. But, they did have professional standards that they were expected to meet. Today’s 24 hours-a-day “news as entertainment” industry is anathema to actual professional journalism.

    Well, you can’t stop change, and I don’t want to wax all nostalgic about the past. However, it seems to me that there is a market for someone to offer a simple format in which to just give us the actual news without all the frills.

  7. This proves my point that the galactic corruption is Venezuela is not just from the politicians, the Chavista government, or PDVSA crooks. No. The corruption cancer has metastasized everywhere, including vast portions of “el pueblo”, including the media, including companies like Telesur.

    How many employees does Telesur have? Hundreds? Well, to work in such a twisted company you must have low moral values, at least, if you’re not a bribed crook. To report such blatant Chavista lies with a straight face.. they are probably getting greased too. Corruption is everywhere, at all levels.

    Regarding FOX news, I often watch here in Miami. I actually like it, guys like Bill O’Reilly are a riot to watch. If you go to their website – foxnews.com – you’ll see they are much more thorough, much more information, capabilities, much better equipped than a little circus like Telesur will ever be. Their employees are educated professionals, Telesur’s reporters and writers are ignorant clowns in comparison.

    When comparing Venezuela with the USA or Europe, in any area, you’re comparing the Third World with developed nations of the First World. Heck ANY news channel in the USA is much more professional and independent than Telesur and Venezuelan crap TV channels. Here or in Europe you do not get away with blatantly partial, politically motivated agendas on TV. People simply tune out. A corrupt, lying channel like Telesur wouldn’t last 1 week in the air or in most of Europe.

    Here,not even Donald Trump can buy the media. He gets constantly hammered and scrutinized everywhere, even by Fox news. So do the Democrats, Republicans and everyone else, depending on the topic at hand. Foxnews may have been misinformed about a little country like Venezuela on some occasion, because they cover they entire World, with hundreds of countries and more important news than little Venezuela. You see, no somos el ombligo del mundo. There are many countries with more interesting stories to report, and similar problems.

    Comparing Telesur with Foxnews, is like comparing BCV with Citibank.. a chevette with a ferrari..

    • Fox News is Telesur in a rich country, nothing more. Of course, there are alternatives, to some extent but Fox News would have more trouble developing in countries such as Germany because Germany’s journalists have managed to get more independent tax-supported institutions that represent a challenge for private media outlets.

      Lots of people from the very right to the very left watch public ZDF and ARD news and that is not for lack of choice but because those news tend to be about facts. You actually see time after time
      top representatives from the right, the liberals, the social democrats and the left actually debating
      with plenty of time, not in short episodes between ads. That is hardly the case in the USA and that is definitely not the case in Venezuela.

      You can see something similar, albeit not with as many resources, in countries such as Norway,
      the Netherlands and even the UK or Spain.

      Fox News are clowns for Western European standards (perhaps except Italy).

      • Yeah! Germany is a great example, a country where they raid your house for writing posts on Facebook about migrant crimes.

        Neo-liberal? Just using this “word” is a tell sign of how ignorant a person is.

        Buddy, telesur actually does what it is supposed to do, a regime funded propaganda machine.

        The author of this article must of been another affirmative action admit to Harvard. So sad.

        • I definitely do not think there media in Germany is perfect but the level of discourse and actual DEBATE tends to be rather decent. When in the US will you see the far left, the far right, the centre etc having top representatives discussing different positions on TV?
          (I do not mean some unknown John and Simon)

          Please, let’s not get started with cops in the USA (and the national murder rate in the USA is 4 times that of Germany)

      • I am not a fan of Fox News, but comparing them to TeleSur is ridiculous. TeleSur was created and paid for by the Venezuela Chavista regime and the other Boli-states as a propaganda arm of their governments. Fox News is an independent company. Clearly, it is partial to the conservative agenda, but it originated and gained audience as result of the traditional media outlets in the U.S. having leftist bias. It created a counter-balance. Personally, I don’t think any news source has any business promoting any particular political agenda, since it interferes with journalistic integrity.

      • Germany is a joke compared to the USA. Historically and right now. We had to crush them Twice in 2 world wars, and now they depend economically on the USA. Plus they just accepted thousands of Syrian Muslims, infiltrated by ISIS, that’s gonna backfire as we see every month in Europe.

        You are digressing from the specific point of this specific post, as you often do, anyway.

        Foxnews ain’t perfect, but Telesur is far less perfect, a bunch of biased Chavista crooks.

        Do you even begin to see the difference?

        Turn on the TV, or internet, and watch Foxnews. Compare that to the obnoxious circus at Telesur, where they openly endorse a criminal dictatorship.

        Do the math.

  8. Yes, that’s right? How in hell can anyone compare teleSUR with FauxNews. The first media outlet broadcasts in Spanish for God’s sake!

    Irrelevant to say they both follow specific agendas, which fit their own although different interests, and their program schedules and interviews only scrutinize arguments that re-affirm and mold their viewers own convictions. Did I mentioned already both claim to own higher moral grounds: one as the mouthpiece of the poor and marginal, the other as the protectors of the homeland and “democracy”, of what they interpret as the “American way”. Even one of Fox’ main anchors, O’Really, likes to call people names! “Pin-heads” isn’t it? Just like the liders of the Robolution do, experts on ridiculing!

    teleSUR and FauxNews are not comparable! It is like comparing a horse and a zebra, not possible what so ever, even though they both belong to the genus Equus.

    Perhaps we will never agree on the issue. However, something it is clear about this conversation is why so few people hold a university degree from Harvard University.

    • Mental age: everything that I don’t like is Telesur.

      And George W. Bush would agree with the last part of your comment, haha!

  9. Fox News is actually more similar to Globovision prior to its new ownership. It provides critical or alternative viewpoints to the national government in the absence of other networks that do this. If you want a U.S. comparison for TeleSur, MSNBC would be more appropriate. It’s probably the closest thing you can get to state propaganda, in spite of being a private channel. MSNBC even has as its slogan “Lean Forward”, a slogan which was used by Barack Obama during his 2012 reelection campaign.

    • Eddie, and I am assuming that Fox News came into existence in 2009 and not 1996? How did Fox News behave during the 8 years of George W. Bush’s Presidency? How does Fox News treat the 31 states with GOP governors?

  10. The last time I watched something from TeleSur, I couldn’t stop laughing because of how surreal and un realistic it was. They had a segment about a group of “patriotic” workers from General Motors in Venezuela who had “denounced” the company’s plan to pay them their pensions in dollars in offshore bank accounts. General Motors did this as a humanitarian gesture to try to protect their employees from the out of control inflation in Venezuela. But this didn’t stop the idiotic “reporter” from TeleSur from claiming that this was a form of torture, and that General Motors would face legal problems because of it. As soon as she said, “Es como una tortura”, I started laughing uncontrollably. I couldn’t help but imagine how many millions of Venezuelans would think, “if this is torture, let them torture me by paying me in dollars!”

  11. I’m not personally fond of the comparisons between Telesur and Fox News. Based on my brief time in journalism school, I’ll tell you that the main objective of television is to entertain. Education and information come as second priorities. And Fox News works in this regard, with flashy pundits and sheer insanity. Telesur, meanwhile, is a bland mix of poorly made newscasts and boring leftist intellectuals talking to each other.

    And it’s these who interest me. Not just our old pal Alfredo Serrano, but also some other curious characters, such as Ilka Oliva Corado (anti-imperialist poetess, living the good life in Chicago), Fernando Buen Abad and Ángel Guerra (hardcore Mexican Marxists), Luis Pino (government-paid propagandist), Katu Arkonada (young Marxist Basque working for the Bolivians), among others. Do these guys actually believe the nonsense they’re spewing, or are they just shills on the regime’s payroll?

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