The Associated Press has published a great but disturbing story. Given the frequent and deserved grief yours truly administers when the wire service lets its readers, listeners, viewers, and subscribing news organizations down, it seems only fair to acknowledge fine work when it does occur. The real question is, in the politically charged U.S. health care environment, whether the AP's subscribers and other media outlets aware of Frank Bajak's Wednesday morning report will acknowledge its existence, and adequately relay the horrors contained therein.
The story is about what's left of Venezuela's "free" healthcare system. It's in shambles. The headline reads like it might be "only" doctors who say so, but Bajak's content says otherwise. Readers here need to go to the full report, because the excerpts which follow of necessity convey only a small portion of how awful things are, including indications that the country is moving ever closer to becoming another Cuba:
In a mild shock -- mild because it's mentioned before the elections, but probably won't be when it really matters after the polls close -- Frank Bajak and Jorge Rueda at the Associated Press, in a story about how the last opposition TV station in Venezuela is being sold to an insurance magnate who is reportedly "friendly with government," noted the extraordinary handicaps that Venezuela's opposition presidential candidate faces as he attempts to unseat the Chavista successor to the late dictator Hugo Chavez in April's upcoming elections.
Our left-wing media’s somber, mourning coverage of Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez once again demonstrates the double standard journalists reserve for dictators.
Seven years ago, the left’s greatest South American hate object, Augusto Pinochet, passed away. Never mind how he used free-market reforms to modernize Chile. Never mind that after 15 years of rule, he allowed a national plebiscite to vote against him, and he stepped down peacefully. The left-wing outrage pulsed on the front pages.
CNN has just performed a valuable public service by revealing that the director of the Americas Program at the (Jimmy) Carter Center, Jennifer McCoy, is a complete moonbat. And how did they do that? Simple. They merely quoted her.
Although McCoy is often cited in the MSM as some sort of expert on the subject of Venezuela such as in her recent USA column about the Chavez "legacy," her efforts to defend the Chavista thugs extends even to the point of completely misconstruing the opposition to vice president Nicolas Maduro's unconstitutional takeover of the presidency of that country. Here is how McCoy incorrectly describes that opposition:
Introducing a brief report on Friday's NBC Today about the funeral proceedings for socialist Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez, news reader Natalie Morales announced: "In Venezuela, a hero's send-off today for Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the U.S. who ruled for 14 years." The headline on screen during the segment read: "Saluting Chavez; World Leaders in Venezuela for President's Funeral."
Correspondent Mark Potter, reporting from Caracas, noted that Chavez would "lie in state for another seven days so more Venezuelans can pay their respects" after "thousands and thousands of people stood in a mile-long line for the chance to quickly file past the casket." Potter added: "Chavez's body eventually will be preserved, much like those of historic communist figures Lenin and Mao, for future public display in a special tomb."
While even the left-wing outlet ThinkProgress finds it necessary to discourage fellow Democrats from eulogizing Hugo Chavez, propaganda for the late dictator keeps popping up in strange places in the New York Times.
Gee, why would anyone get the impression -- GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, for example -- that Harvard Law School is fertile wetlands for left-wing politics?
In Cruz's case, his suspicions are well-founded -- the man graduated from the school in the mid-1990s. For those of us who aren't Harvard alum, its faculty members often supply evidence to bolster that perception. (audio clip after page break)
It's as if Associated Press reporter Paul Haven saw colleague Frank Bajak's pathetic obituary of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez earlier today (covered by Matthew Balan at NewsBusters) and said: "Oh yeah? I can outdo you."
That he did, in an execrable report excerpted after the jump which should be saved to the hard drive and shown as evidence that anyone who calls the wire service "the Authoritarian Press" is not at all out of line (bolds are mine):
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."
[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.] ABCNews.com 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.”
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:
Frank Bajak of the AP lionized Venezuelan autocrat and "fighter" Hugo Chavez minutes after his death on Tuesday, playing up in the second sentence of his item how the "former paratroop commander and fiery populist...outsmarted his rivals time and again." Bajak later hyped Chavez as a "master communicator and savvy political strategist."
Within minutes of the death of death of repressive socialist Hugo Chavez on Tuesday, MSNBC featured ex-Washington Post managing editor Eugene Robinson to fawn over the "quick," "popular" leader. Though Robinson allowed that "freedom of speech suffered greatly" under Chavez, he praised, "He provided medical attention that the poor of Venezuela hadn't received before, and, and, frankly, it was the first time in many decades that a leader had paid that kind of attention to the poor majority in Venezuela." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
With a nostalgic grin on his face, Robinson told guest Hardball host Michael Smerconish about the time he met the "quick-witted" anti-American. "He came to the Washington Post and there were several of us waiting to greet him," the liberal journalist giddily recounted. Robinson continued, "I didn't know if he spoke English at the time, so I introduced myself to him in Spanish when he got to me in the line, and he shook my hand and looked up at me and kind of grinned and said, 'hello, my name is Hu.'"
Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead! But is Presidente Hugo Chavez of Venezuela still alive? In what might be a case of life imitating art, could the vice-president of Venezuela be attempting to replicate "Weekend At Bernie's?" To refresh your memory of that entertaining comedy movie, two young insurance executives are desperate to maintain the fiction that their boss, Bernie, is still alive at his beach house. The Venezuelan vice-president, Nicolas Maduro, is now ruling Venezuela in Hugo Chavez's absence especially since he was given the blessing as El Commandante's successor in December when we knew for sure that Chavez was still alive. However, the big question is if Chavez is still alive.
The Associated Press seems to think so based on their story that Chavez signed a decree naming a new Venezuelan foreign minister. However, the AP missed that the decree stated that it was signed on January 15 in Caracas (yellow highlight in photo below the fold) when we know that Chavez (or his body) has been in Cuba for weeks. Here is the AP report that failed to note this big descrepancy:
Earlier today, when I wasn't in a position to save what I was viewing, I came across an Associated Press item about Venezuela's Sunday election results that I knew I would have to find again at the first opportunity. Readers will see why shortly.
Because the AP has a habit of quickly replacing items at its national site while failing to leave the original behind -- especially true when the originals contain embarrassing giveaway sentiments -- I had to look elsewhere for the original story by Frank Bajak and Ian James, and found it at the Lakeland, Florida Ledger. The pair's slavering, slavish coverage of a tyrant's continued consolidation of power, arguably an even worse example of statist-supporting bias than Kyle Drennen cited earlier today at NewsBusters originating from NBC, is almost too much to bear:
In Caracas reporting on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez winning an "unprecedented third term" for Monday's NBC Today, reporter Kerry Sanders seemed to be swept up in the excitement: "For Chavez's supporters, his reelection is an emotional moment in history. Fireworks filled the skies as a street party continued well into the early morning hours. A Chavez victory, say supporters, means his brand of socialism is here to stay." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Sanders promoted Chavez as "a star among the poor in South America" and propagandized for his dictatorial regime: "Chavez's socialist revolution has captured the imagination of the poor here, in large part because he's taken this nation's oil wealth and used its profits to give away free homes and subsidize grocery bills."
Gas prices have risen to a nationwide average of $3.80 per gallon, per gasbuddy.com early this afternoon, and an Ohio average of over $3.90.
Is Asjylyn Loder at Bloomberg worried about the effects on drivers' pocketbooks and travel plans over Labor Day? Don't be silly. Loder is worried about its impact on Dear Leader's presidential reelection prospects, and avoids the implications of the ten-year rule of another Dear Leader, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, on the current situation. Her first three paragraphs in graphic form, plus a few more on Venezuela, follow the jump:
The Associated Press, in a Sunday evening dispatch, reported that the refinery explosion in Venezuela, which has thus far killed "at least 39 people" and injured "more than 80" (as of 10 a.m.; now it's at 41) is "Venezuela's deadliest refinery blast ever." I'm sure that I join all readers here in expressing deep condolences and prayers for the victims and all who have been affected.
Obviously reporting the details as they emerge will for a time be more important, but it appears that the Amuay refinery explosion is the deadliest such refinery incident in world history, and by a wide margin. If so, the press, after determining that this is indeed the case it, should get around to reporting it as such.
As NewsBusters has reported over the years, Venezuelan actress Maria Conchita Alonso is no fan of her native country's current despotic ruler Hugo Chavez.
During a Spreecast interview with Steve Malzberg Wednesday, Alonso said that if Barack Obama wins reelection in November, America would be making a step towards becoming like Chavez's Venezuela "in the near future" (video follows with transcript, relevant section at 17:40):
If you haven't heard of Barack Obama's newest endorsement, you're seriously missing out! Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave his blessing to the 44th president and he should be proud. I'm not at all insinuating that this election and the one to be held later this year in Venezuela are similar at all, but when a Latin American strongman who built his political career and government policies on class warfare rhetoric praises the president of the United States and bashes Mitt Romney, it's certainly newsworthy.
Indeed, although the media are not trumpeting this fact, Chavez equated his race with that of the President Obama calling Mitt Romney a callous member of the capitalist elite. Of course, it should go without saying that Chavez's program of hope and change and left that country hopelessly shortchanged. Under the Chavez regime, there's been an increase in inflation by 27.5 percent, aggravated by a deluge of government spending. And then there's the whole discouragement of private investment thing, which Chavez's nationalizing of industry has tended to do.
Is recent Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who was freely elected over and over to the U.S. House of Representatives and then elevated by his peers there to the speakership, anything like the right-hand man in a Latin American dictatorship? That's the comparison reporter William Neuman made on Tuesday, on possible successors to ailing Venezuelan dictator (merely called "president" in the Times) Hugo Chavez: "Chávez Forces Venezuela To Contemplate a Void."
In an unbylined item Sunday evening, the Associated Press informed readers that Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez, continuing a six-year campaign of agricultural land seizures, has ordered the expropriation of a huge swath of farmland from a British company, and unilaterally decided that any compensation which might occur will be paid in his country's own currency, over which the country's banks exercise strict repatriation controls.
The report frames the amount of land being seized in a way which will ensure that many readers won't appreciate its massive scope. More important, in something seen frequently in reports about authoritarian regimes, it treats the specific objections of opponents -- in this case, current landowners -- as arguments instead of observable and determinable facts. Here are several paragraphs from the report (bolds are mine):
In a report carried at the Washington Post on Thursday and updated early Friday, the Associated Press's Christopher Toothaker wrote a lengthy report about how Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez plans to "expropriate homes on the Caribbean resort islands of Los Roques, saying the structures were built on plots bought in shadowy business deals." By the end of the day Friday, the report turned into four paragraphs written from the standpoint of certain island residents which made it seem like no big deal. Both AP reports don't convey the severity of the Chavez's action found in a Reuters report on the same topic.
Here are key paragraphs from the initial longer AP report (bolds are mine throughout):
Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), yours truly noted an email from the Associated Press's Images Group which encouraged subscribing outlets to use its "iconic images and videos" to promote the 85th birthday of Fidel Castro, the "Legendary Cuban revolutionary and longtime leader."
Today, writing what may be the wire service's last calendar-driven excuse to heap praise on him while he is still alive, the AP's Peter Orsi described Cuban dictator Castro as a "revolutionary icon" with an "outsize persona," who in his prime was "a gregarious public speaker," and while in retirement remains a "prolific writer."
On Wednesday, the New York Times's Caracas-based reporter Simon Romero drew a favorable sketch of two anti-American strongmen, Cuba’s Communist dictator Fidel Castro and leftist autocrat and ideological sibling Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, in “Venezuelan, Like Castro, Has Brother At the Ready.”
Romero led off with left-wing flattery of the two nations:
To the many comparisons that can been made between Venezuela and Cuba -- two close allies, both infused with revolutionary zeal, driven by movements that revere their leaders -- consider one more: the presidential brother, stepping in during a time of illness.
(first listing) "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: a bold hero."
(third listing) "necessitating courage and daring; challenging: a bold adventure."
One thus has to take the following sentence, the first in James's report, as a virtually explicit expression of admiration for the latest authoritarian moves by the country's "El Presidente," Hugo Chávez:
In a Reuters story ("Venezuela assembly gives Chavez decree powers"), reporters Daniel Wallis and Frank Jack Daniel took note of outraged "opponents who accuse him of turning South America's biggest oil producer into a dictatorship," relieving them of the responsibility for stating the obvious themselves.
Romero's item at the Times is particularly galling in its borderline admiration for the tactics employed by the man who is now Venzuela's virtual dictator (bold is mine):