MSNBC's Maddow: Venezuelans Are Rioting Over Donations to Trump's Inauguration

April 22nd, 2017 3:44 PM

As Nicholas Fondacaro at NewsBusters noted on Friday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's obsession with the money raised for President Donald Trump's inauguration went into overdrive the previous evening. During the same show, Maddow combined that obsession with another one shared by most of the news media — the absolute necessity to avoid blaming Venezuela's dire economic circumstances on its Bolivarian socialist form of government and its de facto dictator Nicolas Maduro — to come up with the most ridiculous reason imaginable as to why civil order in Venezuela has broken down.

You see, Maddow and MSNBC believe that the current serious unrest in Venezuela is entirely about two contributions to — you guessed it — Trump's inauguration.

Especially note the chyron captions shown during the segment:

Transcript, which will be addressed bit by bit (bolds are mine):

RACHEL MADDOW: Venezuela doesn't get a ton of political coverage in the United States, but Venezuela is a country in intense turmoil right now.

Who is to blame for what has until very recently been virtually no coverage? The non-coverage has, again until very recently, included Maddow's own MSNBC, that station's broadcast partner NBC, the other two members of the Big Three networks, and CNN.

It's not like they don't have raw material. The Associated Press has filed nearly daily reports, even regularly referring to Maduro's government as "socialist" (examples here, here, and here). The broadcast and cable outlets just haven't been using them. At the New York Times, apathy also ruled until very recently, with the Old Gray Lady merely posting wire service reports online that very few people ever saw, while putting very little about the country's implosion into its print edition.

MADDOW: 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. Another three people got killed in anti-government protests just yesterday. There have been weeks and weeks and weeks of rioting and violent protests.

Disengaged viewers who see and hear this may believe that the imposition of U.S. sanctions is the primary cause of the horrible problems in Venezuela which Maddow eventually identified.

MADDOW: And now today Venezuelans are enraged anew by this brand new FEC filing from the White House which shows that interesting thing about the guy who got the meeting with the NSC officials and with Steve Bannon.

To the surprise of absolutely no one besides Rachel Maddow and her chyron caption creator, no contemporaneous news reports I located concerning the ongoing unrest in Venezuela (including those noted earlier and others herehere and here) mention a Federal Election Commission filing.

Note that the meeting to which Maddow referred was with certain "NSC officials" and Bannon, and not a formal meeting with the NSC.

MADDOW: It also shows while Venezuelans have been rioting in the streets, while there have been been acute food and medicine shortages in Venezuela — This is a country that should be a rich country, but people have been literally starving in Venezuela —

There is absolutely no context for why there are "food and medicine shortages" or why people "have literally been starving in Venezuela." These things have happened because the socialism and tyranny imposed by Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez have bankrupted the formerly reasonably prosperous country.

I've viewed a 7:08 video segment containing five minutes or so of footage preceding the snip presented above. ("Endured" is a better word.) Maddow did not mention Maduro or the Bolivarian socialist nature of his government even once. The details described in the rest of that video regarding the presentation of a 10-point plan for lifting sanctions on Venezuela to "NSC officials" and Bannon — sanctions which have had virtually nothing to do with why the country is imploding — may or may not be true, given the anonymous, likely Obama administration holdover sourcing of the underlying report.

MADDOW: — somehow in the midst of this incredible economic political crisis in Venezuela, Venezuela's state-run oil company somewhere found a half-million dollars to donate to the very, very, very inexplicably overfunded Trump inauguration. Venezuela's state-run oil company gave them a half-million bucks too. So Venezuela's state-run oil company is dumping money into the Trump inauguration, a half-million bucks.

Meanwhile another half-million plus was apparently enough to open up not only the White House but the National Security Council, the freaking National Security Council, to a very well-connected donor and international investor who had a plan he wanted to share on Venezuela.

Note the ease with which Maddow disingenuously glided from "NSC officials" to the "freaking (implied entire) National Security Council."

MADDOW: I mean Venezuela is in dire straits. It does not have the money to spare, and yet they inexplicably dumped a half-million on Trump.

Once again, note the ease with which Maddow disingenuously glided from the "overfunded Trump inauguration" event to "Trump" (i.e., personally).

Trump's inauguration was organized by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which raised the $107 million. The half-million to which Maddow referred as having come from Venezuela's state-run oil company actually came from CITGO Petroleum Corp., its U.S.-based subsidiary, and as such was legal. Trump has pledged that any leftover funds will be donated to charity, so it's hard to see what kind of influence excess donated money might have.

The individual contributor to whom Maddow referred is reportedly a U.S. citizen. Though the devil is in the details, one is hard-pressed to find anything presumptively improper about "NSC officials" (again, not the full NSC) meeting with someone with some influence who might have an idea for ending a humanitarian, medical-care and human-rights crisis which is slowly but surely starving the citizens of a country with 30 million people and prematurely ending people's lives every day. Venezuela's population is nearly three times that of Cuba, the country whose late leader Fidel Castro Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, have so deeply admired.

Now let's get to the chyron captions MSNBC used during the segment above:

  • (first 20 seconds) "2014: US SANCTIONS VENEZUELA OVER PROTEST CRACKDOWNS" — i.e., U.S. sanctions are the biggest cause of Venezuela's crisis. It's not the government's nationalization of so many businesses and the agricultural sector. It's not the massive levels of corruption. It's not the 18 years during which Chavez and Maduro have consistently tightened their grip on tyrannical power.
  • (next 40 and final 5 seconds) "UNREST IN VENEZUELA OVER TRUMP DONATIONS" — Based on the chyron alone, viewers would think that the Trump donations, which no other media outlet I could find mentioned as even peripherally relevant, are the sole cause of the most recent round of rioting and violent protests.

MSNBC, as seen here (at the 8:45 mark), has removed the second chyron caption from its archived version of the segment. The "memory hole" described in George Orwell's 1984 is alive and well at MSNBC.

If the Maddow train wreck discussed here isn't the most reality-divorced 1:42 of video the establishment press produces this year, I don't want to see what is.

Cross-posted at