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Major networks ignore socialism's impact on Venezuelan crisis

A new study finds that the three major networks hardly dedicated any time to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela over a span of four years, and that socialism, which was instrumental in its problems, was hardly mentioned at all. (Getty Images)

A new study by the Media Research Center found that the three major networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS — have dedicated a minuscule amount of coverage to the growing economic and civil rights crises  — including catastrophic levels of unemployment, hunger, and inflation, and the brutal repression of peaceful protests by the controlling government — in Venezuela.

Additionally, MRC found that when the networks actually have covered the crisis, they've rarely mentioned the government's socialist system as a factor in the nation's troubles.

MRC based its timeline from March 2013 (after socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' death) through May 29, 2017. Through that time, ABC, NBC, and CBS evening news shows aired a total of 25 stories on the Venezuelan crisis, totaling 28 minutes, and 39 seconds of coverage on the socialist country. This amounts to almost 3o seconds a month.

The major networks dedicated no news stories to the advancement of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro's powers within Venezuela, including in November 2013 when then-socialist controlled National Assembly giving Maduro “emergency” powers, which permitted him to bypass the National Assembly and rule by decree, or in May 2017 when the socialist-dominated Supreme Court ruled to strip power from the opposition-lead Congress.

MRC noted that human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch made condemnations of human rights violations in places such as Syria, and Venezuela. Of the 17 times the Human Rights Watch, and 14 times Amnesty International were mentioned by the networks over the four-year period, the "condemnations of Venezuela" by the human rights groups "have gone completely untouched" by the media, said the MRC.

Furthermore, of the 25 stories dedicated to Venezuela by the three networks, only seven of the stories mentioned socialism's involvement. "ABC World News" never mentioned socialism at all, "CBS Evening News" mentioned it once, and "NBC Nightly News" mentioned it six times.

ABC did mention socialism on "Nightline" when Matt Gutman said in February 2014 said, “When the price of oil crashed, the economy went with it, exposing the failures of Hugo Chavez’s socialist government.”

The MRC gave examples of how socialism was addressed by the major networks, and neither seem to highlight socialism's effects on the country, mentioning it only in passing.

From the MRC:

One of the exceptions: On the April 20 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Jacob Rascon noted that “The Venezuelan economy has been in freefall for years...Protesters blamed President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist government.”

On May 4, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley finally used the term for the first time since Chavez’s death, when reporting on the worsening situation. “Running battles continue in Venezuela’s capital. They broke out a month ago when the socialist president tried to grab more power. At least 37 have been killed.”

Maduro's socialist government has controls, or has part ownership in over 500 companies, 70 percent of which are bleeding money. This in turn has caused many to lose their jobs, leading to 25 percent unemployment. To combat the growing problem, Maduro hiked minimum wage for the third time in a year to over 65,000 bolivars a month.

Inflation is expected to surge to over 750 percent, making the bolivar virtually worthless.

Venezuela's major economic, and food shortage crises have put the socialist country on the brink of civil war as thousands of rioters burn property, loot stores, and engage in violence with Venezuelan authorities. Venezuelan security forces have in turn engaged in brutal violence against the protesters and rioters.  

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