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  • Diaz-Balart (right), pictured with fellow Florida politician Marco Rubio (left).

    Diaz-Balart (right), pictured with fellow Florida politician Marco Rubio (left). | Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Published 1 May 2019
Opinion

When Carlson asked if he thought that Russia may put missiles in the Bolivarian country, Diaz-Balart replied, “What I am suggesting is that they are already there.”

A Fox News guest has tried to set the record straight after he claims his comments were misrepresented on the channel’s website. The headline of an online article reads: “Russia put nuclear weapons in Venezuela."

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Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican who sits in the House of Representatives had been interviewed on the show ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ to discuss tuesday’s failed coup in Venezuela.

Speaking to the show’s host, Carlson, he said, “The United States, the closest we ever came to nuclear war was because the Russians put missiles, right, nuclear missiles in Cuba.” 

When Carlson asked if he thought that Russia may put missiles in the Bolivarian country, Diaz-Balart replied, “What I am suggesting is that they are already there,”.

Hours later, Fox News wrote up the interview for their website, with the headline: “Russia put nuclear missiles in Venezuela, Rep. Diaz-Balart suggests”. This was then picked up by other outlets, such as the UK’s ‘The Sun’, which is also owned by Rupert Murdoch and is the country’s most widely read print newspaper. Their headline reads: “Russia has secretly installed nuke missiles in Venezuela, U.S. politician claims in a chilling echo of Cuban Missile Crisis.”

The suggestion was offered without any evidence and, soon after the article was published, Representative Diaz-Balart took to Twitter to row back from his comments.

“When I said 'they’re already there,' I was reiterating that the Russians are already there – a point that I have made repeatedly,” he said, going on to say, “The points I was making was that Russia’s undue influence at our doorstep is a threat, but I was not indicating that Russia had placed nuclear weapons in Venezuela.”

Washington correspondent for Time Magazine, Vera Bergengruen, expressed concern over the representative's comments, saying; "Nothing to see here, just Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart suggesting without evidence that Russia has installed nuclear missiles in Venezuela that pose a grave national security threat to the U.S."

Other U.S. outlets have also been accused of publishing misleading information about tuesday’s coup attempt in Venezuela. CNN anchor Jake Tapper apologized on Twitter, after tweeting that “...Maduro government mows down citizens in the streets,” but the attached photo showed troops loyal to Guaido, firing guns. They could be identified as such by their blue ribbon armbands, used by the coup plotters to identify themselves from troops who remained loyal to the elected government. On Twitter, Tapper said of the original tweet, “...we’re fixing this now to clear up any confusion — apologies.”

Other, evidence-free assertions have included Secretary Mike Pompeo's claim that Venezuela is harboring the Lebanese group, Hezbollah.

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