Media Lens: Channel 4 News Misrepresents Chavez’ Election Bid

7 October 2012 — Venezuela Solidarity Campaign

Dear VSC Supporter,
As Venezuelans head to the polls today, Channel 4 News has published a very biased piece with clear misrepresentations concerning the election. (See http://www.channel4.com/news/venezuelan-elections-chavez-heading-for-defeat )

We are writing to ask you to immediately email Channel 4 news with your comments and complaints to news@channel4.com

Firstly, the piece is wholly misleading on the electoral chances of Henry Capriles Radonski. Aside from the headline “Venezuelan elections: Chavez heading for defeat?” it states “Some analysts, such as Victor Bulmer-Thomas, associate fellow at think-tank Chatham House, think 40-year old Mr Capriles could sneak the win: “I’ve thought for a while that Capriles will win and I’ll stick with that.” This is in spite the wealth of polling evidence showing Chavez way ahead, yet this is not referred to at all. This reflects the spin coming from some of the extremist, anti-democratic sections of Venezuela’s right wing opposition, whom are deliberately trying to paint a false picture about polls in order to falsely claim that any defeat for the right wing is simply the result of fraud. They could then seek to have the legitimate results de-recognised.

Secondly, despite all the available evidence, it quotes their only interviewee stating outrageously “it is highly likely that there will be skulduggery,” before saying public sector workers are not free to vote for who they wish for by claiming “some public employees have been forced to fill out personalised forms detailing which polling station they will use, potentially with the ramifications that their vote will be tracked by the government. Such stipulations could conspire to deter voters from backing the opposition.” As in elections in the UK and the rest of the world, voters have to vote at certain allocated voting stations, so this line of argument is especially absurd.

You can focus on 2 key points in response :

1)      Regarding whether supporters of the government will engage in “skullduggery,” the Carter Centre has said fraud is impossible in Venezuela’s election system & it “guarantees the secrecy of the vote.”

On Friday responding to rumours that the new electronic system might alert authorities as to how they voted, exposing them to retaliation if they vote against Chavez, the internationally renowned Carter Centre said: “This concern has no basis..the software of the voting machines guarantees the secrecy of the vote.” This quote has been reported across the world.

Indeed, Former US President Jimmy Carter says Venezuela has the world’s best election process, saying, “Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world”. He added that Hugo Chavez has always won “fairly and squarely”. Carter won a Nobel Prize for his work with the election-monitoring Carter Centre, which has observed and certified past Venezuelan elections. (See http://tinyurl.com/carteronven )

2)      Regarding the polls, of the 18 polls carried out in September, Hugo Chavez was ahead in 14 and the average lead across all the polls was 12%.

Earlier this week a number of UK based academics wrote a public letter about misrepresented in the UK media about the polls which gives more detailed information you can also use in your response. (See http://t.co/qjCEs27J )

Complaints at this stage could well influence future coverage, so please do take 5 minutes to send in your comments on the piece to news@channel4.com

Best wishes,

VSC.

PS: If you are interested in following the elections in Venezuela today – and the views of British election monitors such as Seumas Milne, Grahame Morris MP, Owen Jones and Diane Abbott MP – we have created a special feed you can see on our website here . We are on twitter here http://www.twitter.com/vensolidarity and our Facebook page is here

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