All credit to The Guardian, incidentally, for not having removed its report. I should in addition point out that the newspaper was almost certainly not to blame for its erroneous judgement. Index on Censorship has an illuminating and unfortunately unsurprising report on the official manipulation of information in Venezuela. Here is the story of that exit poll:
The most scandalous mix of censorship and outright lies came on election day. Even though filtering of any exit poll is strictly forbidden, Reuters received the results of three pro Chavez pollsters from governmental officials, and in a mad race for the scoop announced that the Si had won by up to six points. The Reuters report, promptly picked up by many newspapers, created a crisis in Venezuela as the CNE unnecessarily delayed announcement of the results until eight hours after polls closed, an incredible situation for an automated voting system. Eventually Reuters has been placed in the embarrassing situation of recognising that it made a mistake.
Finally, the secret ‘negotiations’ of election night while the government apparently pondered whether to recognize the results were leaked. This in turn generated quite a scandal through the week when a visibly upset Chavez tried to counter with a failed press conference where the No camp was compared to excrement. It was extremely worrisome to see the army commanders and the president of the Republic attack journalists such as Hernán Lugo Galicia, of the newspaper El Nacional for doing their job of reporting, while refusing to account for the inexcusable delays in publishing the results, let alone recognising the extraordinary abuses committed by the government during the electoral campaign.
The British press is thus more a victim than a functionary of this authoritarian and deceitful regime (and I've noted before how some fairminded and informed writers have been perplexingly prone to give Chávez a benefit of doubt that is not really present). There are two things it might usefully do in response: investigate and report more fully the abuses practised by Chávez's regime; and give proper credit to those campaigners for constitutional politics who have begun to assert themselves against this thuggish and verbally incontinent strongman. The New Statesman has been admirable and fair in its coverage; likewise the BBC and its reporter John Sweeney. The Guardian has in the recent past has been among the first to expose the depravities of supposedly progressive regimes, notably that of the genocidal xenophobe Slobodan Milosevic. I trust it will not be far behind in this case.