Mon, 20 Apr 2009 16:14:03 +0000 – By Dan GainorVice President Business Media Institute
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is almost a caricature of a lefty dictator -- more fitting for the light-hearted movie "Moon Over Parador" than to serve as author to the president of the United States.
But his sudden status is appropriate for the only oil man the American media actually like. Remember, as the head of his nation, Chavez runs his nation's oil company and is one of the villains who helped boost the global price of oil. He's also the same dictator who threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States back in 2006. His oil-rich nation is already the fourth largest importer of oil to the United States. On average, his country is shipping more than a million barrels of oil here every day.
"The Left-Leaning Chavez"
The media have typically downplayed the radical Chavez's politics by using the same terms they used for Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and Walter Mondale - "left-leaning." Saying Chavez is "left-leaning" is like saying the Berlin Wall was a border checkpoint.
But both NBC and CBS have referred to Chavez as "left-leaning" -- a term "CBS Evening News" reporter Byron Pitts also used for John Kerry when he was running for president. In a July 3, 2004, campaign story, Pitts said, "For the left-leaning senator from Massachusetts, the race for the middle hit high gear this weekend."
It wasn't just Kerry who was "left-leaning." Carl Quintanilla of "NBC Nightly News" mentioned how Kerry was "surrounded this week by a series of "left-leaning" surrogates -- Howard Dean, Ralph Nader" in a May 23, 2004, story. And CBS also referred to MoveOn.org and former Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale as "left-leaning" in two other reports.
ABC's "Nightline" used the term to refer to several of that year's Oscar-nominated pictures. On Feb. 1, 2006, Terry Moran discussed how few people had seen the nominees like "Capote," "Syriana," and "Brokeback Mountain." "These low budget, left-leaning movies have made less money combined than a single comedy, 'Wedding Crashers,'" Moran said.
Turning a Blind Eye to Chavez's Anti-American Stance
He's also anti-American, though reporters have previously tried to cast his stance as anti-Bush. Chavez has actively promoted anti-American protests and has funded the left-wing revolution throughout Central and South America. Experts estimate he spent billions of dollars from oil profits to support regimes like Cuba's Fidel Castro. Some of his anti-Obama rhetoric might yet cure them of that disease.
Ignoring Chavez's Anti-Human Rights Record
Even left-wing groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have complained about conditions under Chavez -- murders, detentions, assaults on press freedom and control of the judiciary. Back in 2006, when Chavez was criticizing then-President George W. Bush, few in the media noted what a monster Chavez really was. Just 10 percent (14 out of 139) of the news stories made any mention of any violations. The phrase "human rights" was used in only one story about Chavez's regime.
Like Castro before him, Chavez is just another lovable lefty that the mainstream press just adore. Of course, they don't actually have to live under his regime, so that makes it easy.
Now that Chavez is a potential thorn in Obama's side, maybe we'll finally get a decent look at our kooky and dangerous neighbor to the south.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and Vice President of the Media Research Center's Business Media Institute. His column appears each week on Foxforum and he can be seen each Thursday from 9-10:0 on Foxnews.com's "Strategy Room."