The social critic Noam Chomsky once criticized journalists for being stenographers to power. The New York Times has reflected that truism, adhering closely to a State Department line in its reporting on Latin America. Over the past two decades, this has been most apparent in the material it has printed on Venezuela. Rarely does it publish anything laudatory on the significant achievements of that country’s Leftist government, choosing instead to accentuate conservative oppositional voices that advance Washington’s regime change agenda. Neuman, who served as the Times Andes Region bureau chief from 2012 to 2016, is no exception. Politics in Venezuela, perhaps only second to Cuba in the Americas, are so polarized that it is difficult to approach the subject with any semblance of balance, as those with competing points of view talk past each other. What is disappointing about Neuman’s account of the “collapse” of Venezuela’s economy is that he does not even make an attempt at objectivity—a problematic concept in and of itself, but purportedly a prized objective of journalists. The result is a very problematic account of a highly complicated subject that deserves a much better treatment.
Summing Up: Not recommended.