47

How Lies Become ‘Facts’ in US ‘News’

Eric Zuesse

On Fox News Channel’s May 2nd edition of “The Story with Martha MacCallum” was alleged, by the program host (at 2:45 in this video), that one reason we must invade Venezuela (if we will) is that “People have lost 24 pounds” there. So (her point was), if we invade, that’s not evil, it’s no coup, but instead it’s humanitarian (presumably like it was in Iraq in 2003, when we invaded that country, which likewise had never invaded nor threatened to invade the United States — it was raw international aggression, by our country, against Iraq).

Individuals who fall for a liar once, will typically fall for that liar again and again, without limit, because they are (for whatever reason) prejudiced to trust him. But is this attempt, at “regime change” in Venezuela, yet another example of that, or might it instead really be the case (this time) that (as this Fox host implies) to invade Venezuela will help the people there (gain back that lost weight, etc.), not kill many of them and destroy their nation even worse than it already was?

So, I checked online, to find what the source was, if any, for this stunning allegation by the Fox News host. After all, such a steep a weight-loss for an entire nation would be shocking.

If, indeed, the allegation has a scientifically trustworthy source, then there exists, somewhere, a rigorously done, statistically sound, empirical study of thousands of Venezuelans’ body-weights, in which each one of those individuals has been weighed, not only once, but twice, separated in time by two specific years, so that there exists a credible “before” weight, and “after” weight, to compare, in each one of these many individual cases, such that the study found that the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds during that before-after time-period.

The sample-size has to be large enough, and the sampling-method has to be randomized enough, so that the result will meet the standards of statistical reliability in order to be able to represent the entirety of the Venezuelan population. Many thousands of such scientific studies are, in fact, published each and every year, and it might have been done regarding the body-weights of Venezuelans. However, otherwise (that is, if this was not done regarding Venezuelans’ body-weights), then that Fox News host was either lying, or else deceived by other people, in order for her to have made this remarkable statement. One, or else the other, is the case, here — either such a study was done, or else it wasn’t — so: which of those two options occurred, in this particular instance? Let’s see:

She might have received this ‘fact’ which she had stated, from any of many sources that are online:

Just a few days prior to that show, National Review had headlined, on 30 April 2019, “The Economics of Tyranny in Venezuela”, and reported “The real-life consequences of Chavismo’s misguided policies are telling: Venezuelans lost an average of 24 pounds in the year 2017.”

That linked to the 24 January 2019 Council on Foreign Relations article “Venezuela: The Rise and Fall of a Petrostate”, which said that Venezuela has “a devastating humanitarian crisis, with severe shortages of basic goods, such as food and medical supplies. In 2017, Venezuelans lost an average of twenty-four pounds in body weight.”

That, in turn, linked to a 21 February 2018 Reuters article, “Venezuelans report big weight losses in 2017 as hunger hits”, which opened:

Venezuelans reported losing on average 11 kilograms (24 lbs) in body weight last year and almost 90 percent now live in poverty, according to a new university study on the impact of a devastating economic crisis and food shortages.
The annual survey, published on Wednesday by three universities, is one of the most closely-followed assessments of Venezuelans’ well being amid a government information vacuum and shows a steady rise in poverty and hunger in recent years.

Over 60 percent of Venezuelans surveyed said that during the previous three months they had woken up hungry because they did not have enough money to buy food. About a quarter of the population was eating two or less meals a day, the study showed.

Last year, the three universities found that Venezuelans said they had lost an average of 8 kilograms during 2016.

This time, the study’s dozen investigators surveyed 6,168 Venezuelans between the ages of 20 and 65 across the country of 30 million people. …

“Income is being pulverized,” Maria Ponce, one of the study’s investigators, told a news conference at the Andres Bello Catholic University. …

She was the only cited source. So, on May 3rd, I googled “Maria Ponce” https://www.ucab.edu.ve/ “Universidad Católica Andrés Bello”, and found: https://ucab.academia.edu/MariaPonce

That indicated she had done “11 papers” and the most promising to be the one was at the very top: https://www.academia.edu/38305342/Informe-PobrezaISBN-2017.pdf

I did there a “Find” for the number alleged in the Reuters article to have been the sample-size, “6,168” because if this document does, in fact, report any such study, then that number would need to be shown somewhere in it. I got “0” finds. So, this paper can’t be the basis for the assertion.

The only other promising prospect was this paper.

That one too didn’t include “6,168”. However, it did give her full name: “María Gabriela Ponce Zubillaga” which I then googled. The only promising find I could see there was: this, and that too lacked “6,168”.

Also, at the University itself, there is one paper shown from her, but it’s dated 2013.

None of the works from her is actually dated after 2015, and so there is a mystery as to why the only “study” by her which contained such internationally influential ‘findings’ has not been included by her in what she has uploaded to the Web or has otherwise been made public (except as ‘summarized’ in that Reuters article).

Also of interest is that a 2017 publication, which mentions her name, but which has no article from her, shows on its page 204, “Gráfica 14. Coeficiente de Gini. Venezuela. 2000-2015” or the year-by year economic-inequality coefficient (or “Gini”) for Venezuela, throughout the period 2000 to 2015, and this coefficient plunged during that period, to reach in 2015 “0.381” — which was one of the world’s lowest, which means that Venezuela had one of the world’s most equal distributions of incomes then — and this is an astounding performance, because in 2002 Venezuela’s was near the global average, 0.50.

If that is true, then Venezuela’s Government has at least this important economic achievement to be proud of. (Hugo Chavez became President in 1999, and was replaced by Nicolas Maduro when Chavez died in 2013. The U.S. regime attempted many coups against both, but the present effort is the most serious one yet.)

Furthermore, Ponce’s online-posted CV shows no publications from her after 2015.

So, I contacted her at https://ucab.academia.edu/MariaPonce, and left her this message plus my email-address so that she could respond:

Please email me the alleged February 2018 study

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-food/venezuelans-report-big-weight-losses-in-2017-as-hunger-hits-idUSKCN1G52HA

documenting that Venezuelans lost an average of 24 pounds due to the economic troubles.

Eric Zuesse

It has been six days now with no response. If I ever hear back from her, or from anyone who is associated with that alleged ‘study’, then I shall do a follow-up news-report on the matter.

America’s media-watchdog FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) headlined on 30 April 2019 “Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela”, and reported (and documented) that,

Over a three-month period (1/15/19–4/15/19), zero opinion pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post took an anti–regime change or pro-Maduro/Chavista position. Not a single commentator on the big three Sunday morning talkshows or PBS NewsHour came out against President Nicolás Maduro stepping down from the Venezuelan government.”

This lengthy study of hundreds of news-commentaries closed by saying:

When it comes to advocating the overthrow of the US government’s foreign undesirables, you can always count on opinion pages to represent all sides of why it’s a good thing. And the millions of people who beg to differ? Well, they’re just out of the question.”

So, though the present news-report is being distributed to all of America’s national news-media, for them to publish freely, they’ve already made clear that at least none of the ones that have large audiences will publish it. They know the truth, just as you do (now, at least), but they aren’t in the truth-business — they only pretend to be (just as they pretend to report ‘the news’, instead of the the carefully filtered propaganda).

Polls show that Americans want bipartisan government. But both of the political parties are funded by billionaires, and all billionaires are neoconservatives — supporters of extending the U.S. empire — because it’s their empire, and because none of them is actually satisfied with how large it already is.

So: they hire the writers for, and the candidates of, both political parties, to help them make it even bigger, ceaselessly. So, if you don’t see this article published in the pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, etc., you know why: they’re working to keep ‘fake news’ out, and to report only the real propaganda, the authorized propaganda — the propaganda that those billionaires want to be spread.

And this also explains that interview on Fox News Channel’s May 2nd edition of “The Story with Martha MacCallum”. It also explains why Trump could say there (at 0:19) — and be unchallenged for saying — “It is, from a constitutional standpoint, it’s the way it’s supposed to be. He [Guaido] was elected,” though everything in that statement is absurdly false; and this is also the reason why, later (at 3:05), the host, MacCallum, seconded that lie, by asserting that the actually merely self-proclaimed ‘interim President of Venezuela’, Guaido, is what “the people of Venezuela, what they democratically voted for,” though the only voters who ever actually voted for him were the majority of voters in merely Vargas, which is one of Venezuela’s 23 states.

Guaido has never been in any national Venezuelan election (but only that local one) — not against Maduro, not against anyone else. Yet, the U.S. regime is trying to impose him upon the entire Venezuelan people, and Trump even claims that Guaido had won a national election.

Mr. Guaido in 2016 was elected by the residents of Vargas to become its Representative in the nation’s unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, and never yet has faced any national Venezuelan election, on anything. His record in national public office is therefore almost non-existent; but, within the National Assembly itself, he nonetheless rose (due to his long-time backing by the U.S. regime) immediately to become elected by its members, as the President of that body, the National Assembly.

In other words, he was appointed, by the national legislature, immediately after having been elected solely by, and solely to represent, the residents of the state of Vargas. If he were to become installed as ‘interim President’ of the nation, it would be with no clear record on national issues. And it would be with no vote by the national electorate.

Vargas, one of Venezuela’s poorest states, was predominantly socialist, so Guaido had pretended to be socialist; and he won that local office on that fraudulent basis; but, once in office, he became immediately fascist.

He was behaving in accord with his being a perfect CIA asset, to take over a democratic socialist country that the dictatorial capitalist U.S. regime wants to control. He is acting as a traitor to Venezuela, and certainly outside of and violating Venezuela’s Constitution.

So, if he were to become Venezuela’s leader, that would be only by appointment on the part of the legislators, and not by any democratic election by the Venezuelan people, and it would also be in violation of Venezuela’s Supreme Judicial Tribunal, which is the only body that possesses the Constitutional authority to authorize the National Assembly to consider the possibility of appointing an interim President. (It didn’t do that; so, no one can possibly be “the interim President of Venezuela.”) All of what the U.S. regime and its supporters are demanding, stands in direct violation of Venezuela’s Constitution.

The United States and its allies nonetheless demand it, and the U.S. regime says that “All options are on the table,” up to and including a U.S. invasion of Venezuela, in order to achieve their drastic and blatantly unConstitutional change-of-Government in Venezuela. Violating international law isn’t enough; they demand to shred Venezuela’s Constitution, too.

And the lie about “People have lost 24 pounds” can be understood only in this broader context of lies, and only by means of exposing and understanding the lies for what they are, instead of only by what they claim (which is what the liars and their press want the public to be fooled to believe).

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PaWi
PaWi

Mr. Suesse:

Using google translator, I followed your leads to one source and found this page: https://www.fundacionbengoa.org/noticias/2019/emergencia-humanitaria.asp

Which at the bottom had a hyperlink “See complete information” that allowed a pdf to load.

In the pdf, was this about 11 kg of weight loss;

“4. 64% de los venezolanos había perdido unos 11 kg de peso entre 2016 y 2017, por el acelerado
deterioro de la ingesta de alimentos en la cantidad y calidad necesaria, siendo más afectados los niños y las mujeres.”

This might be the report you were looking for? The report I found can be downloaded here: https://www.fundacionbengoa.org/noticias/2019/Reporte%20Nacional%20EHC%20Derecho%20a%20la%20Alimentaci%C3%B3n%20y%20Nutrici%C3%B3n%20diciembre%202018%20Espa%C3%B1ol.pdf
A 2016 report is also availble from the Bengoa website. Further, I found this in an essay about the topic:

The (2016) report, which focuses on Venezuelan nutrition, is part of an annual review covering the state of living conditions in the country. Maritza Landaeta-Jiménez, who as recently as 2013 was a member of the Venezuelan opposition’s Nutrition Commission, headed the 2016 research. Source: http://cepr.net/blogs/the-americas-blog/the-media-venezuela-and-hunger-statistics-a-case-study-in-careless-reporting
A list of some of Maritza’s works are here:

https://www.researchgate.net/scientific-contributions/34914195_Maritza_Landaeta-Jimenez
The abstract of one report there reads:

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that good nutrition is that characterized by a sufficient and balanced diet combined with regular physical activity as a fundamental element of good health, well-being and quality of life. Maintaining good nutrition requires access to healthy food and sufficient economic resources to pay for it. To achieve the welfare state, it is essential that the household has food security, that is to say that it includes the four fundamental pillars, described by (Lahoz, 2006, Menchú 2002): the availability of food (production and import, physical access and / or economic), food consumption, biological use of ingested food (access to drinking water, sanitation, health services and education) and stability, condition that the three previous components must meet.

This study considers two of the four dimensions of food security 1, the availability of food and indicators of access to food (national consumer price index and food basket cost) and food consumption; with which it is sought to show the evolution of the Venezuelan food pattern in the last five years. The assessment of food consumption uses food balance sheets (HBA) and national food consumption surveys, both instruments generate information that is not replaced and on the contrary complements (Aular, 2000).

It also includes the National Survey of Living Conditions (ENCOVI) and the Venezuelan Nutrition and Health Study, as well as research and reports from institutions, private agencies and international agencies.

1 The Venezuelan Magna Carta conceptualizes food security as the sufficient and stable availability of food at the national level and the timely and permanent access to it by the consumer. Even when the fundamental importance of national production for the economic and social development of the country is recognized, it also sentences that the necessary measures will be dictated to guarantee the strategic levels of self-sufficiency and actions … to compensate for the disadvantages inherent to agricultural activity ( Art 305 CRBV).

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327756050_El_consumo_de_alimentos_y_la_situacion_nutricional

More:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/290549179_Footprints_of_the_bengoa_foundation
The José María Bengoa Foundation for Food and Nutrition, since the year 2000, has been following the mandate, which according to Dr. Bengoa had been given by the Venezuelan Society, always sensitive to inequality, marginalization, ignorance and hunger”. Its work has been directed to the most deprived rural and urban communities, yet rapidly has extended to other regions, in response to the increasing social demand that must be addressed promptly. Its activities include the work of a group of volunteers who try to rethink food and nutrition issues, amidst great difficulties that face the country and support various scientific, technical and fundraising activities. The commitment to serve Venezuelans has turned the Foundation into a forum of opinions and ideas, which arise from representatives of different sectors and disciplines, of a high scientific and technical quality; this is considered as one of our greatest assets. Among its programs we can mention: the Faro Nutriciónal” (a nutritional information source), the study group regarding nutritional transition (TAN grupo), the campaign against malnutrition, the community nutrition program as well as the technical assistance program. Venezuelan Annals of Nutrition (AVN) is edited and distributed through various media and social networks. FB maintains agreements and partnerships for research projects and technical assistance with national and international institutions. The positive results in some communities are stimuli for continuing the efforts for building solutions with and from the community.

Eric Zuesse

Thank you so much, “PaWi”! That cited the alleged ‘finding’ but unfortunately wasn’t itself the alleged research-report on which the ‘finding’ was based. it instead cited that alleged research. Your first link links through to https://www.fundacionbengoa.org/noticias/2019/Reporte%20Nacional%20EHC%20Derecho%20a%20la%20Alimentación%20y%20Nutrición%20diciembre%202018%20Español.pdf
and here is the Google-Chrome auto-translated passage, which is footnote 4 in that pdf document:

64% of Venezuelans had lost about 11 kg of weight between 2016 and 2017, due to the accelerated deterioration of the intake of food in the quantity and quality needed, children and women being more affected. According to ENCOVI 2017, 63% of adults had cut the frequency of meals, 20% did not eat breakfast and more than 25% did not eat three meals a day. In addition, 80% of people had eaten less food, 78% for not being able to buy enough; 61% said they went to bed hungry and 64% had lost 11 kg of weight, hunger sharpening in relation to 2016, year in which an average loss of 8 Kg was recorded31. In February 2018, 4 Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts of the United Nations on poverty and rights to housing, food and health, indicated that “… thousands of people in Venezuela suffer from hunger, have no access to essential drugs and are trying to survive in a spiral that does not seem to have an end (…)” making a call for urgent measures to face the crisis in Venezuela and avoid a tragedy of large proportions32. Between August and September of 2018, the Survey on Food Security in the Maracaibo municipality of the state Zulia made by Codhez, based on the Latin American and Caribbean Scale of Food Security, showed that 75.8% of households had run out of food in the last three months due to lack of economic resources, 54% of adults ate once a day and 6.9% stopped eating for a whole day. Also, 29.6% of the households reported the situation of children who could only eat once a day. In 7.5% of households, children do not they ate for a whole day33. The quality of the diet also worsened significantly, according to the data thrown by the ENCOVI between the years 2014 and 201734 35, with an unchanged diet, of tubers, fats and flours, at best, to the detriment of foods such as fish, meat, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables and even grains, high protein intake and iron, zinc, vitamin A and B complex. This diet indicates the worst situation of availability of calories and proteins since statistics are available at the beginning of the 1950s; the which is reflected in the increase in deaths from chronic conditions associated with nutrition such as diabetes and hypertension in the latest available mortality yearbooks of the Ministry of Health for the years 2013 and 201436

That caused me to check the links in the document, and some of them were to documents in English. Here are the two that seem the most relevant:
https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2018/02/21/encovi-2017/
That says (and to see any of the sources it indicates in parentheses, click onto https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2018/02/21/encovi-2017/ and then click onto that source as a live link): “And while somewhat fewer people report losing weight (64% in 2017, vs. 74% in 2016) those people who are losing weight are losing more weight: 11.4 kg., vs. 8.9 kg. The year before.)”
https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/20180523_acaps_thematic_report_humanitarian_crisis_in_venezuela.pdf
That says “Most of the food supply in Venezuela is imported and prices in supermarkets are controlled by the government. The government-aligned military directs the distribution of basic food, so called CLAP boxes, through local provision and production committees (Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción) (CFR 15/02/2018). The government reduced food imports and imports of other basic goods by almost 30% in 2017 in order to recover debt payments (CFR 15/02/2018). Between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2017, food imports fell by 67% (Reuters 12/03/2018). Close to 90% of households surveyed in the 2017 ENCOVI study considered their family had insufficient income to buy food (ENCOVI 02/2018). Almost 80% reported that they reduced their meal sizes in early 2017 due to low food availability and insufficient food in the household (ENCOVI 02/2018). ENCOVI considered 80% of surveyed households to be food insecure in 2017 (ENCOVI 02/2018). The distribution of CLAP boxes is often irregular and does not ensure a reliable food supply for those receiving the boxes (Reuters 12/03/2018). 53% of households reported not receiving their CLAP boxes regularly. Irregular distribution of the boxes particularly affects people living outside of Caracas (ENCOVI 02/2018). Furthermore, the government has been using the food distribution to ensure support during the elections. New identity cards, so called “Fatherland cards”, are increasingly required in order to receive state benefits, and can be used to track who has voted (Wall Street Journal 22/03/2018). There have been accounts of people threatened to either vote for the government or be left out of the food distribution (NYT 17/12/2017). Nevertheless, according to the ENCOVI study, 75% of households in which no member holds a “fatherland card” still stated that they were receiving the CLAP boxes (ENCOVI 02/2018)”

That “CFR 15/02/2018” links to the following, from the (U.S. aristocracy’s) Council on Foreign Relations:
from Center for Preventive Action
A Venezuelan Refugee Crisis
Contingency Planning Memorandum No. 33
In addition to a sharp economic downturn, Venezuela faces a humanitarian crisis. The United States can do little to prevent a downward spiral, but it should take measures to mitigate the political, economic, and humanitarian consequences of a potential mass emigration.
February 15, 2018

I’m not seeing, anywhere, the alleged research-report, but only references to it, all of which are themselves by U.S.-billionaire-backed publications.

I can see only two explanations that might be possible for this:

Either America’s billionaires are the world’s most compassionate people and just coincidentally are focusing their compassion especially upon the residents in Venezuela, or else there exists an extremely well-funded NGO operation, centering in ENCOVI (the three Venezuelan universities that allegedly do all of the ‘research’ that produces all of these undocumented ‘findings’). If the former is the case, then America’s billionaires are inexplicably compassionate toward the people in Venezuela, and I wonder why they are. But if the latter is the case, then I wonder why the research-reports themselves are never being published.

Basically, I cannot trust any allegation that very possibly could be fraudulent. Furthermore, even the CFR is saying “The United States can do little to prevent a downward spiral,” BUT THAT’S CLEARLY A LIE: The U.S. could eliminate all of its sanctions. That would CERTAINLY HELP GREATLY to “to prevent a downward spiral,” but the CFR has propagandized heavily for everything that has ASSISTED this downward spiral, or maybe even that outright CAUSED it. To an indeterminate but significant extent, the CFR caused whatever crisis actually exists here. Is that because they are stupid? Or is it because they are evil?

Consequently, I still must categorize that “24 pounds” allegation to be untrustworthy — propaganda instead of science and journalism that’s based upon science instead of based upon propaganda.

Both “PaWi” and another terrific reader here at O-G, “jjc,” link in their comment, to http://cepr.net/blogs/the-americas-blog/the-media-venezuela-and-hunger-statistics-a-case-study-in-careless-reporting and that presents yet further reason to doubt that there is any actual science involved in those ‘findings’.

The writers and the readers at Off-Guardian constitute a terrific research-team. This reader — and writer — is grateful to be a part of that.

John Gilberts
John Gilberts

Good piece by Eric Zuesse. Unfortunately Canadian news is much the same. As is evidenced in this Canadian state media expose of a tawdry tale of access and exclusion courtesy of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s ‘Global Affairs’…

Ottawa Braced For Russian Retaliation After Barring State Media From Lima Group Talks

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/venezuela-russia-canada-media-lima-group-1.5134625

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[…] How Lies Become ‘Facts’ in US ‘News’ by Eric Zuesse, https://off-guardian.org/ On Fox News Channel’s May 2nd edition of “The Story with Martha MacCallum” was alleged, by the program host (at 2:45 in this video), that one reason we must invade Venezuela (if we will) is that “People have lost 24 pounds” there. So (her point was), if we invade, that’s not evil, it’s no coup, but instead it’s humanitarian (presumably like it was in Iraq in 2003, when we invaded that country, which likewise had never invaded nor threatened to invade the United States — it was raw international aggression, by our country, against Iraq). – Individuals who fall for a liar once, will typically fall for that liar again and again, without limit, because they are (for whatever reason) prejudiced to trust him. But is this attempt, at “regime change” in Venezuela, yet another example of that, or might it instead really be the case (this time) that (as this Fox host implies) to invade Venezuela will help the people there (gain back that lost weight, etc.), not kill many of them and destroy their nation even worse than it already was? – So, I checked online, to find what the source was, if any, for this stunning allegation by the Fox News host. After all, such a steep a weight-loss for an entire nation would be shocking. If, indeed, the allegation has a scientifically trustworthy source, then there exists, somewhere, a rigorously done, statistically sound, empirical study of thousands of Venezuelans’ body-weights, in which each one of those individuals has been weighed, not only once, but twice, separated in time by two specific years, so that there exists a credible “before” weight, and “after” weight, to compare, in each one of these many individual cases, such that the study found that the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds during that before-after time-period. – read more. […]

jjc
jjc
dale carter
dale carter

The article is misnamed.
Should have read: “Dr. Zuesse’s attempt to smear Fox News”

OffG
Admin
OffG

We don’t encourage empty ad hom. Please make sure your future comments have content.

John
John

Where is the smear? It’s a god awful news network and it’s viewers are easily triggered easily led silly little emotional reactionaries who hate facts

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