PBS NewsHour Boasts Venezuela Has Put Hugo Chavez In an 'Immortality' Club with Jesus Christ

On Friday, the PBS NewsHour featured a story titled "A 'Celebration of Immortality' for Hugo Chavez." This is an odd title for liberals who believe in science and would know when Hugo Chavez has assumed room temperature.

But it grew worse: the segment from former BBC correspondent Matt Frei (now with ITN) actually put Chavez in a "top three" of immortality with Jesus Christ:

FREI: This feels less like a funeral and more like a celebration of immortality. And every time the camera passes, the exhausted faithful, who have been waiting on their feet for 24 hours, play their part, all this despite the soaring heat.

Chavez may be dead, but they all behave as if he's still alive, highlights of a life cut short at only 58 years are played on giant screens on a loop. Given perhaps his posthumous appeal, the government has taken the decision not to bury him, but to embalm Chavez and keep him lying in state forever.

Immortality is the rarest of compliments, and for this crowd, Chavez has joined the top three.

What they are saying is that the three most important people in their lives, all dead, are Jesus Christ, Simon Bolivar, and now Hugo Chavez.

Another British journalist with this political disease is Jonathan Jones of the leftist Guardian newspaper, in an article headlined "Venezuela's tears for a Christ-like Chavez" :

This picture is a modern lamentation scene. In religious paintings of the Lamentation of Christ by such masters of dignified emotion as Giotto and Poussin, the dead body of Christ has been taken down from the cross to be mourned by heartbroken women. Here, the corpse of Hugo Chávez inspires similarly emotional gestures and expressions in two women who have queued to see him in his open coffin.

If it seems pretentious to equate this tearful scene at the lying-in-state of Venezuela's late president with paintings like Raphael's Deposition – another harrowing depiction of the dead Christ mourned by his followers – then you probably live in a Protestant country. Venezuela has been deeply influenced by Catholicism since missionaries were sent to the coastline named "Little Venice" in the Renaissance

Consciously or not, the people in this picture, the photographer who took it, and even those who have decided that Chávez should lie in state "eternally", are all influenced by the rich visual heritage of the Catholic world that ranges from oil paintings to prayer cards, and feasts perpetually on images of martyrdom and mourning.

As long as we're surveying Chavez silliness, there's also this copy from The Huffington Post: "Hugo Chavez was a man of many talents: he played ball, sang songs, pulled out pistols, and got down and groovy -- and that is precisely how we'll remember the Venezuelan leader."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis