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By Clay Waters | | March 6, 2013 | 3:08 PM EST

Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez is dead of cancer at age 58, the end of a bizarre odyssey that took him to Communist Cuba in a failed attempt at a cure. William Neuman's off-lead story in Wednesday's New York Times credited the left-wing dictator for having "changed Venezuela in fundamental ways, empowering and energizing millions of poor people who had felt marginalized and excluded."

The headline called the leftist despot a populist: "Chavez Dies At 58 With Venezuela In Deep Turmoil – Debilitated By Cancer – Crowds Mass in Capital Mourning Populist Who Defied U.S." Thus the paper maintains its double standard on labeling dead dictators, with the paper rarely using the term "dictator" to refer to communists, only fascists.

By Kyle Drennen | | March 6, 2013 | 2:28 PM EST

In an interview on Monday's Today with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his co-author Clint Bolick about their new book, Immigration Wars, co-host Matt Lauer seized Bush's critical words for fellow Republicans: "...this is an alarm to your party. You called Republicans 'tone deaf and hostile to immigrants and Hispanics,' you fault the party for being unwilling to expand the base, and you warn that Republicans face, your word, 'extinction' if they continue to alienate Hispanics. Is this damage that was caused and has been inflicted, whether self or not, something that can be repaired in time for 2016?"

Lauer began the segment by wondering: "Your brother [George W. Bush] won 44% of the Hispanic vote. By contrast, Governor Romney won 27%. 71% went to President Obama. Was it Governor Romney's fault or the party's fault?" Bush replied: "I think both. Governor Romney put himself in a box, I think, in the primary, by trying to out-conservative some very good conservative candidates, and never really recovered from it."

By Matt Hadro | | March 6, 2013 | 2:07 PM EST

Actress Olivia Munn stars in HBO's drama The Newsroom, but she knocked the real-life CNN newsroom on Sunday. At a panel moderated by CNN host Piers Morgan, Munn made clear her distaste for newspeople "trying to make themselves a celebrity."

"I like seeing my news anchors just be my news anchors. And now you turn on CNN and now people are putting themselves into a story," she said, calling out Morgan and CNN anchor Don Lemon by name.

By Scott Whitlock | | March 6, 2013 | 12:38 PM EST

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Good Morning America as airing the Brandi Hitt story. Her piece was posted on GMA's website, but did not air on the program.] on Wednesday greeted the death of Hugo Chavez by avoiding the word “socialist.” Instead, journalist Brandi Hitt touted the repressive leader as someone who “appeared to never back down from a challenge.” The reporter never mentioned Chavez’s crackdown on free speech or democracy. Instead, she featured a woman in the streets of Venezuela gushing, “He’s a man that cared about us…He did not give anything to me, but he gave it to my people.”

Over on Today, NBC’s Mark Potter offered this friendly description of the individual who made friends with Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: “Many here were still surprised when he died, in part because of his larger-than-life personality.”  Potter announced that crowds in Caracas were chanting “Chavez lives” and “the struggle continues.” Both Today and Good Morning America made sure to play footage of Chavez’s 2006 appearance at the United Nations. There, the authoritarian leaded mocked George W. Bush as “the devil.”

By Matt Philbin | | March 6, 2013 | 12:28 PM EST

It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say the just-retired Pope Benedict XVI isn’t a terribly popular figure around the offices of The New Yorker, one of the flagship publications of East Coast liberalism. One subtle clue might be the Feb. 12 article, “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI,” in which John Cassidy accused “Benedict’s Vatican” of “setting its face against the modern world in general … needlessly alienating countless people around the world who were brought up in its teachings.”

So when a question arises as to whether a cartoon depiction of the pope on the magazine’s cover is slyly malicious, it’s difficult to give the magazine the benefit of the doubt.

By Kyle Drennen | | March 6, 2013 | 12:02 PM EST

During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today about an elderly woman being denied CPR at an assisted living facility and later dying, pundit Donny Deutsch immediately worried about the health care expense that may have been incurred if the woman had lived: "It's obviously a very sad story, but it really brings up, I think, a larger issue that we've got to get our arms around, that 25% of the health care costs are against people in their last year of their life, the 4 or 5% of people, keeping people alive." [Watch the video after the jump]

Deutsch suggested it was time to shift priorities: "..we maybe need to give hard looks that some of the procedures being done to extend lives six weeks, eight weeks, ten weeks, that maybe that money could go to saving little babies." NBC chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman agreed: "I hope this a national conversation about death and dying." Moments later, she demanded that there be no investigation into the death of the 87-year-old denied CPR: "I'm sorry, I hope this is one time where the lawyers and the police stay the hell out of it."

By Noel Sheppard | | March 6, 2013 | 11:53 AM EST

As the liberal media predictably gushed and fawned over Hugo Chavez on the occasion of his death Tuesday, someone that was raised in Venezuela was actually quite pleased by the announcement.

Appearing on NewsMaxTV’s Steve Malzberg Show Tuesday, Maria Conchita Alonso said, “I’m very happy” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):

By Jeffrey Meyer | | March 6, 2013 | 11:25 AM EST

If you're an outspoken religious or political conservative in the entertainment industry, it's open season by the liberal media not just on your beliefs but on your right to work. The latest example of this new outright McCarthyism comes from Wired magazine, which gives a strongly worded condemnation of DC Comics for having hired author Orson Scott Card to write Superman. 

Wired’s outrage stems from Card’s vocal opposition to gay marriage, which the magazine's Graeme McMillan says would offend the Man of Steel. “[D]oesn’t Superman stand against such bigotry?" he asked.  While Card may have very outlandish opinions on homosexuality, McMillan seems to have no problem with efforts by gay activists to virtually blacklist the Superman author from the comic industry. 

By Tom Blumer | | March 6, 2013 | 11:25 AM EST

CNN, which if I recall correctly severed formal ties with the Associated Press some time ago, quoted former congressman Joseph Kennedy II's reaction to the death of Venezuela's authoritarian leader Hugo Chavez as follows: "President Chavez cared deeply about the poor of Venezuela and other nations around the world and their abject lack of even basic necessities, while some of the wealthiest people on our planet have more money than they can ever reasonably expect to spend" ... There are close to 2 million people in the United States who received free heating assistance, thanks to President Chavez's leadership. Our prayers go out to President Chavez's family, the people of Venezuela, and all who were warmed by his generosity."

Here is how Christine Armario at the AP, with the help of Steve LeBlanc in Boston, sanitized Kennedy's remarks:

By Scott Whitlock | | March 6, 2013 | 11:22 AM EST

Surprise! It turns out there is some wasteful spending going on in government.  In the weeks leading up to the showdown in Washington, ABC offered story after story lamenting the “massive” government cuts resulting from sequester and warning of criminals running free and a “meat shortage.” Yet on the March 5 World News, David Kerley found that the government has spent $400,000 in the last two years alone on expensive portraits for top officials.

A shocked Kerley explained, “The 29th agriculture secretary? Well, you paid for his painting. The latest for Lisa Jackson, the outgoing EPA administrator, a $38,000 portrait. ..How about $41,000 for the Air Force secretary?”  Pointing the figure at Barack Obama, the journalist continued, “We wanted to show you some of those portraits that you paid for. But the White House wouldn't allow our camera to go into any federal buildings to see those paintings.” [See video below.]

By Noel Sheppard | | March 6, 2013 | 10:34 AM EST

The Coalition for the Homeless released a report Tuesday finding a record number of people living in homeless shelters in New York City.

For some reason, the New York Times chose not to report it.

By Katie Yoder | | March 6, 2013 | 9:59 AM EST

According to CNN, surrogacy deserves a fairytale ending. But when a surrogate mother refused to abort her baby against prospective parents’ wishes, the story transitioned into a “nightmare.” 

A Connecticut couple offered their baby's surrogate mother, Crystal Kelley, $10,000 for an abortion when they discovered via an ultrasound that the baby suffered from disabilities such as a cleft lip and heart defects. Kelley refused their proposal despite legal pressure, and fled to Michigan where state law recognized her as the baby’s guardian. 

By Noel Sheppard | | March 6, 2013 | 9:27 AM EST

"I think that for democracy to survive and thrive, I think we need a vigilant media. You know, we now have a lap dog, thrill up our leg, a**-kissing, suck-up, lapdog media. How do we have a thriving democracy when people can't get accurate, fair information? That seems to be hard to me."

So marvelously said Fox News's Sean Hannity on his program Tuesday (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Mark Finkelstein | | March 6, 2013 | 8:58 AM EST

Whoah!  What place was Mika Brzezinski talking about?  On today's Morning Joe, Brzezinski said that at a place where she used to work, "any woman who did anything or got to the top immediately had something revealed to the press or online or whatever that would bring them down."  And whatever happened to solidarity among the sisters?  Mika added: I suggest that some might even argue that it's women doing that."

We don't know which employer Mika had in mind, but before coming to MSNBC, by far Brzezinski's longest stints were at CBS. View the video after the jump.

By Matthew Sheffield | | March 5, 2013 | 8:21 PM EST

Unless he had just eaten a bad cup of Jell-O pudding, it would appear that actor and comedian Bill Cosby seems to really, really hate Republicans.

The veteran entertainer made that very clear Monday morning when he claimed that Republicans not applauding President Obama’s State of the Union address in unison with Democrats were “as bad as the people who were against any kind of desegregation.” He also wondered aloud about whether or not Republicans today are upset that slavery is no longer legal.