Letter to New Yorker Editor Re: Jon Anderson’s Reporting on Venezuela

Mr. David Remnick
The New Yorker
4 Times Sq.
New York, NY 10036


Dear Mr. David Remnick:

Basic standards of honesty and accuracy are vital to sustain a healthy journalistic culture. Adherence to these commitments is a sure indicator of how seriously media organizations take their ethical responsibilities. Mr. Jon Lee Anderson’s reporting on the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has abdicated these responsibilities in more ways than one. More concerning is the fact that the New Yorker, and Anderson himself, has failed to demonstrate any urgency in correcting this lapse in professionalism.

Writing for the North American Congress on Latin America, Washington, D.C. activist Keane Bhatt highlights a consistent pattern of misinformation, fabrication, and, in one instance, blatant falsehood (NACLA, “The New Yorker Corrects Two Errors on Venezuela, Refuses a Third”, 4/8/13). Bhatt’s critique seeks a correction to Mr. Anderson’s “Postscript: Hugo Chavez 1954-2013”. In this article Mr. Anderson makes the assertion that Venezuela was among the world’s most “socially unequal countries. . .” despite verifiable evidence to the contrary affirmed by reputable sources, foremost the United Nations. In fact, Bhatt notes that UN figures confirm “Venezuela is the most equal country in Latin America“. Furthermore, Mr. Bhatt brought this glaring error to Mr. Anderson’s attention personally via online correspondence yet Mr. Anderson seems unwilling to provide clarification.

As a publication unencumbered by the potentially coercive force of the State, the New Yorker possesses the discretionary power to report truths even when they conflict with widely held misperceptions. Refusal to publish a correction to Mr. Anderson’s report would ring loudly as a great disservice to your national readership and, more significantly, a betrayal of core principles of journalistic integrity. Prior to this latest critique, the New Yorker published a correction to Mr. Anderson’s article “Slumlord: What has Hugo Chávez wrought in Venezuela?”. This is to be commended. It is my fervent hope that the same dedication to accuracy and honesty is applied in this particular case.

Thank you for your consideration in acknowledging this serious matter.


Xavier Best

[For any of my peers who would like to voice their displeasure in regards to this misinformation, they can send their letter to tny.newsdesk@gmail.com]





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