Anyone who followed the results of Venezuela's regional elections last Sunday will know that President Hugo Chavez's party won 17 out of 22 contests up for grabs, garnering 52.5 percent of the popular vote to the opposition's 41.1 percent. Unless, that is, they were relying on New York Times Latin America correspondent Simon Romero.
Despite a well-documented pattern of media misinformation about Chavez, many media outlets, including L.A. Times and CNN, conceded the fact of Chavez allies' victory in Sunday's races.
But not Romero!
Yesterday, the Times published an article by Romero titled, "Chavez Supporters Suffer Defeat in State and Regional Races."
The article's lede:
President Hugo Chavez's supporters suffered a stinging defeat in several state and municipal races on Sunday, with the opposition retaining power in oil-rich Zulia, the country's most populous state, and winning crucial races here in the capital.
Today, the Times ran a follow-up piece penned by Romero under the headline "Once Considered Invincible, Chavez Takes a Blow," as well as an editorial that argued that "In Sunday's state and municipal elections Venezuelans showed just how fed up they are with his government's authoritarianism and incompetence."
Over at Narco News, Al Giordano takes on Romero's peculiar alternate reality of Venezuela's vote:
Imagine if elections for all 50 state governors in the United States were held on a single election day and 74 percent of those seats (or 37 out of 50 governorships) went to one political party's candidates. Imagine also that the victorious party's candidates had won 52.5 percent of all votes to just 41 percent for the opposition (the technical definition of an electoral landslide is a victory of ten percentage points or more).
If a New York Times reporter–or any reporter–then wrote the story of the election results and called it a "stinging defeat" for the victorious party, wouldn't he be laughed off of his beat?
But then again, if the New York Times had any journalistic standards when it came to reporting on Venezuela, Romero likely would have been laughed off his beat long ago….