Alan Woods appeared on BBC's Newsnight on Wednesday 6th March. The part of the programme where he is interviewed can be viewed on Youtube and the full programme is available on BBC iPlayer (UK only). The article in Western Mail (Wales) has also been published and can be read on their website. Finally, on Sunday an interview with Alan will appear in Últimas Noticias, Venezuelas biggest daily paper whose Sunday edition has a circulation of more than 300,000.
Below is a letter from a Socialist Appeal supporter regarding the coverage by Newsnight of Chavez's death and the situation in Venezueala.
What is the BBC afraid of?
On March 6th, 2013, BBC 2’s Newsnight programme spent 15 minutes 55 seconds covering the issue of the untimely death of Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela. In all there were six contributors to the programme in addition to the presenter Gavin Essler.
One of the contributors, the British-Venezuelan film maker Pablo Navarrete, was in the studio: two were on tape – Economics Editor Paul Mason and British Marxist Alan Woods: and three were interviewed by satellite – from Caracas, Samuel Moncada, Venezuelan Ambassador to Britain; from the USA, W.J.Dobson, a reactionary right wing American author whose book is called The Dictator’s Learning Curve; and from Argentina the even more reactionary Emilio Cardenas, former Argentinean Ambassador to the UN.
One of the guests, Alan Woods, founder of the international campaign Hands off Venezuela, was correctly billed as a British Marxist, a close associate/confidante of Chavez and Paul Mason correctly stated that Chavez had read Alan’s books. So of all the guests on the programme you would have thought that the man who knew Chavez the best both personally and politically, Alan Woods, would be given some prominence.
But this is the BBC and up to the airing of this programme the output of the BBC was overwhelmingly anti-Chavez with the favoured adjective on the lips of every BBC journalist covering the death of Chavez – divisive.
Newsnight did not disappoint. It would be worth any reader of this short article accessing the Newsnight slot on iPlayer to see once again the bias of the BBC, especially the reactionary presenter Gavin Essler.
Essler’s opening sentence clearly indicated the way that the programme would go. He opened with a question? “Did he (Chavez) waste billions of dollars in oil wealth or bring a degree of social justice to the poor?” The order of information in this question – from the negative to the positive – set the tone for the rest of the programme slot.
Here are the contributors, the times they had to make a contribution and some of their comments.
Samuel Moncada, a balanced summary of the legacy of Chavez – 2 minutes 57 seconds. And Samuel’s contribution was continually interrupted by Essler.
Paul Mason gave some facts and some relevant comments, especially the one that stated that what has happened in Venezuela is not, so far, socialism, but the capitalism of redistribution, a pro-poor capitalism. Paul had 3 minutes 10 seconds.
W.J.Dobson, called Chavez every kind of dictator and anti-democrat – thankfully only 37 seconds.
Emilio Cardenas, who had some very interesting views on democracy – it must look and be democratic! And where did he stand on the issue of the post-Chavez era? The Opposition will have the chance to rebuild the economy!! 2 minutes 7 seconds.
Pablo Navarette, a polite and quietly spoken well known man who was interrupted by Essler, gave a balanced view of what has been achieved in the Bolivarian revolution – 2 minutes 18 seconds.
And finally, the contribution from Chavez’s confidante, the British Marxist (I think he would rather be called the Welsh Marxist) Alan Woods, with interruptions from Paul Mason – 60 seconds.
So the contributor who was billed as being closest of all to Comandante Hugo Chavez gets…60 seconds.
I know Alan well and like Chavez I have read his books on Venezuela so I am pretty confident that Alan would have spoken for a lot longer than 60 seconds on Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution.
So, I repeat the question. What is the BBC afraid of?
Darrall Cozens, member of UCU, Coventry TUC and Coventry NW Labour Party – and also a Welsh Marxist.