UK’s Independent Newspaper Falsifies Venezuela Election Results

A report by Hannah Baldock of The Independent the day of the referendum, claimed that Venezuelan President Chavez was to lose the recall. Who provided them with the data?

In a big way. For shame, Hannah Baldock. How did you violate the rules? Let us count the ways.
“The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, looked to be losing his grip on power last night as exit polls showed him to be trailing the opposition by almost a million votes.”

“The figures were early indications that, for the first time in the country’s history, the President may have his term in office cut short by a referendum.”

“The mid-morning results showed that the opposition, already boasting an enormous 1,758,000 votes to Chavez’s 798,000, is well on its way to reaching the target of 3.76 million votes it needs to oust the authoritarian, left-wing President. Turn-out for the referendum was high, with millions of Venezuelans queuing from the early hours at polling stations all over the oil-rich country to decide the political fate of the firebrand Mr Chavez.”

Let’s talk about lousy, lazy, yellow journalism, and in a left-leaning paper, too. First, it’s a bit early for such predictions, no? Second, it’s still 8:15PM on the 15th here in Caracas, too early to legally release results, hell, the polls are still open for four more hours! Third, let’s have a source for these numbers, Hannah. There are no “mid-morning results”! The only source, and I use the term loosely, to claim to release early results was Enrique Mendoza, a premiere member of the opposition group Coordinadora Democratica [sic], hardly an unbiased source, and he was shot down when the government banned early results.

Perhaps you refuse to provide a source because none exists, or perhaps you’re using the usual “reliable” source of the escualido opposition. Either way, you’re blemishing the record of the Independent by presenting a prediction as a truism. The government has strictly and explicitly forbidden any early release of polling numbers. When the figures are released, they will be in the form of percentages, not hard numbers.

Fourth, “Left wing authoritarian president?” What the hell is that? Is it because you’re still working under a racist premise about Latin America that you can disparage a democratically elected leader? I’d humbly suggest that after tonight, we’d find that Chavez has more popular support than Tony Blair. I’d like to see you describe him in such a way!

Independent, you need to be more careful in your reporters’ screening process. And enough with the “firebrand” bullshit already! I’ve come to expect more, much more, from the Independent and the Observer. Get your facts straight before you lose your credibility.

The report was removed form the Independent web site after Chavez’s victory was announced. Click here in case it is restored.

Ron Smith is an Independent Documentary Producer and Authentic Journalist