Venezuela's hapless president has found something else he sucks at. And it's not from a lack of trying.
Under President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has become an unmitigated disaster: soaring crime, crippling product shortages, and the world's highest inflation rate. Now he's ruining Facebook Live, too.
The Venezuelan president is one of the first world leaders to eagerly embrace the livestream platform, which he uses regularly to broadcast his weekly town hall meetings and check in with his ever-diminishing base of supporters. But Maduro's early adoption of the new technology has not translated into early success.
In fact, Maduro gets about as many viewers on his livestreams as your friends do when they experiment with their first FB Live Test— the one where they stare into their iPhones and say "Wait, is this recording? Am I live?"
"Maduro's views are always astonishingly low," says a friend of mine who lives in Caracas. "It gets down into the single digits quite regularly. It just makes you wonder how many people are actually watching him on TV, too."
Part of the problem is Venezuela's lousy internet speeds, which make it difficult for anyone to stream video on their phones. Many Venezuelans don't even have internet in their homes. Actually, they don't even have running water or enough food for the week, so internet connectivity is a relatively low priority.
But perhaps the biggest limiting factor for the presidential livestreams is Maduro himself. The content he produces is terrible. His Tuesday night gabfests, called Contacto Con Maduro, is what psychiatric professionals would probably call "loose association." It's the type of rambling stream of consciousness that's usually heard only through the metal doors of padded rooms. It makes for bad government, and even worse Facebook Live.
Maduro's most recent FB Live, #50 for those keeping score at home, was so bad I almost overdosed on Dramamine just to get through this three minute clip. It looks like it was shot by the town drunk, who staggers around the auditorium and then apparently slumps against the stage, just far enough out of range from the president to make the whole thing echoey and inaudible.
But even without understanding anything Maduro says, you can get a pretty clear sense from the grainy video that it was an unmemorable event.
"Even if Venezuela had 100% internet penetration and great connection speeds, he'd probably only get 3 or 4 more people watching him," my friend said.
At this point, rather than improving his game, Maduro's best play would probably be to try to make his performance so wretchedly bad that he develops a weird and ironic cult following. Actually, come to think of it, maybe that's what he's doing?