If there was a clickbait headline competition, Fox News has just produced one that could easily win it. The network said one of its guests believes Russia has nuclear missiles in Venezuela, and presumably no one but him noticed.
To be clear, there are no Russian nukes in Venezuela, as far as any open evidence or official statements go. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, whose appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday sparked the flashy headline, doesn’t appear to believe there are any either. But that doesn’t stop a really determined traffic-hungry editor from insinuating the opposite.
Diaz-Balart and Carlson debated if the presence of what the Fox host called the “world’s bad guys” in Venezuela poses a national security threat to the United States. One of the ‘bad guys’ in both men’s view is, of course, Russia, which deployed a small contingent of military personnel to the Latin American country.
Carlson pressured Diaz-Balart about his insistence that failing to act against Russia in Venezuela posed a threat to America itself.
It’s kind of hard to see what you’re talking about. Are you suggesting they are going to invade?” Carlson asked.
“The United States… the closest we ever came to nuclear war was because the Russians put missiles, right, nuclear missiles in Cuba,” Diaz-Balart said, referring to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
“Are you saying the Russians will put nuclear missiles in Venezuela?” Carlson asked.
“What I am suggesting is that they are already there,” Diaz-Balart said.
If Carlson thought that the “they” mentioned by his guest meant “missiles” and not “Russians,” he failed to react in a way that such an explosive claim merits. The interview went on with him and the congressman debating what was the biggest threat posed by the turmoil in Venezuela. Carlson believes that this is likely a mass exodus of people after US succeeds in toppling the country’s government. Diaz-Balart said it was emboldening Russia and China, should Venezuela’s current leadership survive despite the US’ determination to oust it.
One could argue that Diaz-Balart’s awkward wording justifies the inflammatory headline used by Fox News and whoever reprints the story, like the Sun. But really, does the age, in which news stories are boiled down to mere tweets, benefit from such bad faith trickery?