A segment of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show displayed a chyron implying the widespread anti-socialist protests in Venezuela were actually against President Donald Trump.
The show, which aired on Thursday, implied that a donation to Donald Trump’s inauguration of $500,000 from a subsidiary of a Venezuelan state-run oil company was a cause of recent protests.
A headline at the bottom of the screen during a segment explaining the donation read: “Unrest in Venezuela Over Trump Donations,” without noting the growing food and medicine shortages that have occurred there as a direct result of nearly two decades of socialist mismanagement.
During the segment, Maddow claimed, “Venezuelans are enraged anew over by this brand new FEC filing from the White House [showing]… that Venezuela’s state-run oil company somewhere found a half million dollars to donate to the very, very, very inexplicably overfunded Trump inauguration.”
Maddow was referring to a report showing that Citgo Petrol, the American affiliate of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state-run oil company, donated $500,000 to the Trump inauguration. A report from November last year found that Venezuela’s state-run oil corporation, Petróleos de Venezuela, has $11 billion unaccounted for in the past decade.
While Maddow did not directly link the protests to the donation, the only thing close to an explanation for the protests she gave was that “the sanctions that the U.S. put on Venezuela were put there in 2014, after 43 people got killed while participating in anti-government protests.”
Nowhere in the segment are socialist policies or left-wing political oppression, including the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience, mentioned, nor does she mention that the victims in the 2014 protests were largely killed by state police, national guard, or socialist gangs.
There is no evidence suggesting the reason behind the civil unrest was the donation. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who was recently banned from holding public office for 15 years without cause, called for protests to fight the government’s military plan designed to silence opposition, promising that they “will not rest until Venezuela returns to constitutional order.”
Many Venezuelans are starving living under the socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro. The average Venezuelan lost nearly 20 pounds throughout 2016 due to food shortages, according to a recent poll. Over 15 percent of Venezuelans rely on industrial waste as food to survive.
Maddow failed to link any of Venezuela’s socialist policies, such as the mass nationalization of industries, to the country’s current crisis.
The show later apologized for the chyron and updated it in its web version of the broadcast.
“Rachel was clear in calling the protests in Venezuela ‘anti-government,’ but the banner on the screen while she said it was not correct. As a TV show, we have to get them both right, and sometimes we miss,” MSNBC said in a statement. The version of the segment posted online no longer includes the chyron to reflect the fact that producers did not, in retrospect, consider it an accurate representation of the situation in Venezuela or of Maddow’s commentary.
Late dictator Hugo Chávez enacted sweeping socialist reforms to cripple the nation’s economy, including the aforementioned seizures of corporations, which resulted in many international corporations fleeing the country. Following his death, Nicolás Maduro has overseen mass shortages of food, medicine, and electricity, imposing a ration system and strict price controls, which have exacerbated the problem.
This week, the Venezuelan opposition held the “mother of all protests” across the country, calling for an end to Maduro’s rule and the socialist policies that have led to the country’s decline. On Thursday, General Motors announced it had ceased all its Venezuelan operations after the government seized control of its plant in the city of Valencia.
On Friday, the Associated Press reported that 20 people have been killed in recent anti-government demonstrations, as protesters clashed with riot police and government-funded militias.