Venezuela’s Outages and the Western Press’s Confirmation Bias Problem

Recent reports about Venezuela’s ongoing infrastructural difficulties have given particular attention to such matters as electrical grid outages, which are said now to be chronic across the country. Much has been made, for instance, of President Nicolás Maduro’s announcement this month that his government is implementing a three-day weekend to conserve energy resources.[1] Similarly, increasing attention has been given to the water shortage, which is said to be leaving Venezuelans without access for weeks on end.

The tone of these reports, like most of the coverage of Venezuela in the Western-controlled press, is laced with undercurrents implying that news of doom and despair is all that ever emanates from the South American country.  In a special report for USA Today, for instance, Peter Wilson claims that President Maduro’s recent moves have become necessary to “avert a collapse of the power grid.”[2] A Wall Street Journal article claims “the nationwide water shortage is crippling Venezuela, leaving faucets dry and contributing to rolling blackouts.”[3]  Words like disasterbreakdown and ruin adorn the prose of these reports and communicate a sense of ominous foreboding, as if Venezuela were about to fall into a dark hole toward the center of the earth. The implication is that as long as the Chavistas are in government all Venezuela news is bad news and that every last piece of it represents one last nail in the coffin of a failed political project.

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