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In the early 2000s, CBC faced charges of deep-seated left-wing bias. In recent years, it cleaned up its act and is rated centre-left by Media Bias/Fact Check, a website that rates accuracy and political bias in news media. Not unbiased but a big improvement from where it was.
Yet, the CBC’s flagship National newscast recently reported distorted facts and ignored relevant material on the crisis in Venezuela. The result created a false moral equivalence between the democratic opposition trying to bring in desperately-needed aid and the brutal dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro that’s blocking food from getting to starving people.
Bizarrely, only the United States, not Maduro’s corrupt regime, was criticized for creating the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela.
The report starts with “billionaire” Richard Branson’s aid concert across the border in Colombia and then highlights pro-Maduro rallies “throughout” Venezuela. It offered not a word about huge Venezuelan demonstrations demanding the end of the Maduro government. The takeaway: billionaires support the opposition and the people support the regime.
The report makes light of international efforts to bring aid to Venezuela’s starving people, saying it “would maybe keep 5,000 people fed for a few weeks.” This is an obvious distortion. Warehouses can stockpile only so much across closed borders. Aid floodgates will open when the border opens – it will be a flow, not a static stock.
But that doesn’t stop CBC from slighting the humanitarian effort.
CBC is selective with facts. It approvingly quotes Amnesty International saying U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil “will surely hurt on the streets” but had not a bad word for the regime, which has inflicted massive human suffering.
In reality, oil money failed to reach “the streets” for years before the recent U.S. sanctions. Oil revenues and production were slashed by the incompetence of the Chavistas, who took over the oil industry. What was left to corruption and pampering men with guns who violently suppress “the street.”
An example of corruption is Maria Gabriela Chavez, the daughter of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who in 2015 was estimated to be worth $4.2 billion. Like the rest of the crony elite, she siphoned off oil money while people starved.
A study in 2017 revealed that Venezuelans on average had lost 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of weight that year. When I was in Caracas in 2017, long lines formed whenever grocery or drugstores were found, and the situation is now much worse.
Yet President Maduro’s waistline is in an expansive mode. The generals are well fed and rich from corruption and the drug business.
If anything, U.S. sanctions may deprive corrupt officials and the men with guns of some of their luxuries. But, and this must be emphasized, the CBC claim that food is not getting to the streets because of the U.S. is false.
The National report notes that 3.4 million people have fled Venezuela but again fails to explain this was due to the Maduro famine. Perhaps this could be excused as sloppy and ill-informed reporting were it not for the ‘analysis’ blaming all sides equally. “So many hungry people being used as pawns, which is why the Red Cross and United Nations refuse to take sides.”
In fact, the Red Cross charter states the “Red Cross may not take sides” so it can get aid to places ruled by murderous regimes. UN agencies have raised huge alarms about refugees and the situation in Venezuela.
But Russian and Chinese dictatorships sit on the UN Security Council to veto any attempt to hold their buddy Maduro accountable. The UN Human Rights Council, which claims to be “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe,” contains stellar human rights protectors such as Algeria, China, Cuba, Nicaragua and, oh yes, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
So the CBC report makes a moral equivalence between the regime responsible for a humanitarian catastrophe and a democratically-elected opposition trying to get food to the starving, by quoting the impartiality of groups forced to be impartial for humanitarian or political imperatives.
It ignores the fact that most liberal democracies support food aid and the opposition, which represents a body fairly elected in Venezuela, unlike the election stolen by Maduro.
This is not news and analysis, but spin to create a false equivalence while ignoring facts that directly contradict the spin.
Is the old CBC back?
Fred McMahon is a Fraser Institute analyst.
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