Viewers of ABC, CBS or NBC morning shows and evening news programs could be forgiven for thinking nothing newsworthy is going on in Venezuela, where an emboldened opposition in recent weeks has been working to remove incumbent socialist President Nicolás Maduro through a recall referendum. The country is currently going through a devastating humanitarian crisis, in which food is scarce, medicine and other supplies are dwindling rapidly, and the populace is sliding into chaos. Yet, the traditional big three broadcast networks have yet to air a single word about this ongoing crisis.
Unlike their English-language counterparts at ABC, CBS and NBC, however, between May 1-23 America’s top Spanish-language television networks, Univision and Telemundo, have dedicated 33 reports and nearly an hour of coverage to the convulsive developments in one of the world’s leading oil-producing countries. And unlike both Spanish-language television networks’ coverage of domestic U.S political developments, which tends to favor the liberal Obama administration, the dominant narrative in Univision and Telemundo’s coverage of Venezuela has been decidedly hostile to the Socialist government in power.
While ABC, CBS and NBC have ignored the economic disaster in Venezuela, all three networks have only mentioned Venezuela in their coverage in the context of the Zika virus outbreak. Meanwhile, during the May 1-23 period under study, the top Spanish-language television network in the U.S, Univision, dedicated over 30 minutes of coverage to the ongoing political and social crisis in Venezuela. Almost 15 minutes of that time took place during Univision’s Sunday public affairs show, Al Punto, including an interview with Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles.