Prof compares Trump to Hugo Chavez, Venuzualan press to Fox News

Anthropology professor Robert Samet has written a book pinning the demise of Venezuela on practices "normally associated with democracy," rather than dictatorship.

In a recent interview about his book, Samet compares Trump to Hugo Chavez and Chavez-era Venezuelan propaganda to Fox News.

A New York anthropology professor said that President Donald Trump’s attitude toward the press is much like that which Hugo Chavez had toward the Venezuelan press, and asserted that the practices of Fox News mirror those of the Venezuelan press during the dictator’s rule. 

Union College Assistant Professor Robert Samet recently released a book, titled Deadline: Populism and the Press in Venezuela, in which he argued that “Venezuela’s punitive turn was not the product of a dictatorship,” but instead of “practices and institutions normally associated with democracy.” 

In an interview published by the college, Samet relates the political charge of Venezuelan media to Fox News and compares Trump to Hugo Chavez.

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Samet says he was driven to write the book by his interest in “the relationship between journalism, democracy, and political mobilization.”

The professor argues that the demise of Venezuela can be in part attributed to the “danger of populism” and “specific practices that fuel populist mobilization.”

“There is no question that crime was a severe problem in Venezuela. Instead of trying to solve the problem, Venezuela’s opposition—figures like Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó—used the media to mobilize dissent against the government of President Hugo Chávez,” Samet explains.

Samet then compares Trump’s treatment of the American media to Chavez’s treatment of Venezuelan media, saying the two “drew on a similar repertoire of rhetorical tactics.”

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While Samet says that it is “important not to overplay this similarity,” he claims that “while Chavez was in office, the Venezuelan press functioned like Fox News” in that it “prioritized a political agenda over facts-based reporting.”

“If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that ‘press freedom’ only works if there is a baseline of trust between citizens. In the United States, that trust is rapidly dwindling. This will not end well,” Samet said. 

Campus Reform reached out to Samet for clarification on his comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Fox News declined to comment for this story.

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