I am fascinated with the media coverage of Venezuela. I discussed it about a week ago when talking about the new Slate feature, If It Happened There… The idea of it is to report news about America as we would report it if it were happening elsewhere. The problem is that it matters very much where that elsewhere is. Is it Israel where it doesn’t matter what they do, it’s totally great? Or is it Venezuela where it doesn’t matter what they do, it’s totally awful?
Most of the recent coverage of Venezuela is like the article in Business Insider, A Few Bizarre Anecdotes That Show Venezuela Is at the Edge of a Dangerous Precipice. Things are going terribly wrong in Venezuela because for most reporters in America, something is always going terribly wrong in Venezuela. They will wait a hundred years if necessary so that they can finally say, “Told you!”
But the last year really has been bad for Venezuela. During that time, the cost of living went up 49%. But this doesn’t mean that hyperinflation is on the way. The Venezuelan government has things in order. (Amusingly, the Business Insider article claimed, “It can’t be stressed enough—[Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro] is no Chavez.” As if the website was a champion of Chavez!) Mark Weisbrot explains the situation:
But here’s the thing: during this same period, poverty in Venezuela has been cut by 20%. This is in addition to drastic decreases in poverty over the last decade. So the inflation is not hurting poor people. Inflation tends to primarily hurt exactly the people who American media listen to: the rich.
Given the news on Venezuelan poverty is and has been good, what choice does the mainstream press of this country have? None at all! So they simply don’t report it. But if Venezuela were doing as bad a job on this issue as the United States, you can be sure that it would get major coverage. Here’s a graph of our poverty rate:
Notice how its been pretty much increasing over the last 40 years thanks to Republicans and New Democrats. Compare it to Venezuea:
That’s the difference between the “beyond the pale” radicals in Venezuela and the Very Serious establishment types in the United States. When the status quo is wrong, the sober managers are evil.