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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).