I've been surprised and disappointed at how many bloggers link to news articles that they seem not to have read, or at least, not to have read well.
Take this post, for example, from A.M. Mora y Leon at Publius Pundit. Apparently, today marks the beginning of the end for Hugo Chavez and his corrupted cronies in Venezuela. What a relief! Except that the supporting evidence is complete nonsense, based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts at hand. A quick look bears out the point:
Mora y Leon's first claim reads "All oil production from 32 operating contracts with foreign firms HAS COMPLETELY SHUT DOWN according to a government document obtained by Dow Jones. The link is here".
Read the "Market Watch" article yourself, and you'll see within minutes that the document says no such thing. Venezuela's oil output since February has been "stable...but down," not completely shut down.
The second indicator of Chivez's imminent political demise is the fact that "Venezuela’s state oil company says it needs to borrow $20 billion to finance increased output. It claims that banks are falling all over themselves to lend, but did not name a single potential lender. Venezuela’s books are completely intransparent [he must mean nontransparent] now. I want to know what kind of bank would lend under conditions like that … so I can short their stock."
Wait a second. How did we get from not naming a single lender, to their "books" (whatever that means) being "completely transparent." Have I missed something? I'd appreciate it if someone showed me where I've gotten it wrong...
Finally, "Venezuela’s output, as we wrote here, has collapsed so severely that it must now import oil from Russia to fulfill its contracts."
This last assertion is completely silly. Nothing has collapsed, let alone collapsed "severely." Second, Mora y Leon has completely misconstrued this entire story. Venezuela's purchase of Russian oil has nothing to do with their own output. What's going on is this: Petróleos de Venezuela, a state-owned company of Venezuela, purchased the oil from Russia to accomplish two ends. First, it needed to meet obligations of previous contractual obligations, details of which have not been made public (to my knowledge, at least). Second, the company is buying the oil directly from Russia because it's cost-effective. On of the company's processing plants is located in Germany. Transport costs are higher for bringing Venezuelan oil to Europe than they are getting it straight from Russia.
There is no question that Venezuela's oil economy has suffered under Chavez's management. But it doesn't appear to be anywhere close to ruin. So my question is this:
Are some bloggers, like the ones at Publius Pundit, sloppy, or are they intentionally misleading their readers for the sake of propaganda?