A professor who has conducted field work in Venezuela for more than a dozen years likened President Donald Trump and his dynamic with Fox News to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and his relationship with his country’s press, and said, “this will not end well.”
Robert Samet, an assistant professor of anthropology at Union College, drew the comparison in an interview with the college published Wednesday regarding his book released last month, Deadline: Populism and the Press in Venezuela.
The college noted that Trump has called the media the “enemy of the people” and asked Samet for his takeaway.
Samet, who followed reporters in Caracas for more than two years to document a change in response to crime and the media’s role, said that witnessing the 2016 American presidential election was like seeing “Venezuelan politics in reverse.”
“Chávez and Trump have nothing in common when it comes to the content of their political messages. However, both drew on a similar repertoire of rhetorical tactics, which includes targeting the media,” Samet said.
The professor noted it was important not to overplay the parallels because Chávez’s accusations against Venezuelan press were credible since the country’s media is partisan.
“While Chávez was in office, the Venezuelan press functioned like Fox News — it prioritized a political agenda over facts-based reporting,” Samet said. “If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that ‘press freedom” only works if there is a baseline of trust between citizens.”
Samet concluded that such trust is “rapidly dwindling” in the United States and that “this will not end well.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Saturday. Newsweek reached out to Fox News and did not get an immediate response.
Samet argues that populism is part of the reason Venezuela has fallen into turmoil, and he is not the first scholar to draw the comparison between Trump and Chávez, who died in 2013. After the 2016 election, several think pieces emerged that pointed out their similar attacks on the press, populist rhetoric and brash humor, and expressed concern about the future of democracy in the U.S.
Trump has imposed tough sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro “and his corrupt cronies” and in January recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela.
Samet in his book argues that opposition leaders like Guaidó used the media to spread dissent against Chávez rather than try to solve the country’s problems.
Powered by WPeMatico