A useful guideline in evaluating the significance of a national security-related news story first revealed by someone in the establishment press is whether other media outlets pick it up. If they don't, it's probably significant.
What is it with Hollywood personalities going to Venezuela and being swept off their feet by the thuggish dictator Hugo Chávez. They come back with these stories claiming he is just misconstrued by the media and that he’s really a great guy.
“I was telling – my two most interesting interviews I think I’ve ever done are Milton Friedman, very influential on me, and also Hugo Chávez, because when I interviewed him I was struck by how much I like him,” she explained. “He’s very funny. He is so charming. He is smooth. He could be a stand-up comedian. He is a seductor, as I suspect most dictators are – that’s how they get to where they are.”
On Sunday, Alana Goodman reported on an anti-semitic interview given by director Oliver Stone in the Sunday edition of The Times of London. Stone said that Jews dominate the media, "stay on top of every comment" and have "the most powerful lobby in Washington."
Earlier today, The Daily Mail reported that Stone had apologized for his remarks.
He said: "In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret."
Stone told The Sunday Times "Hitler was a Frankenstein but there was also a Dr Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support."
Kagan a 'Brilliant Woman...Who Is Also Very Funny and Warm and Witty'
"Let's not forget that Elena Kagan has been an academic. She is a brilliant woman. She's somebody who is also very funny and warm and witty, and I think Americans will see that when they-when she comes before the Senate today." -- Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, on the June 28 edition of TimesCast, at nytimes.com.
Venezuela Dictator Chavez a 'Good-Hearted Man of the People'
"During 'South of the Border' Mr. Stone schmoozes with several left-wing political leaders, including his good buddy the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez; he takes Mr. Stone to his childhood home, where Mr. Chávez mounts a children's bike that collapses under him. Mr. Chávez comes across as a rough-hewn but good-hearted man of the people whose bullheaded determination is softened by a sense of humor. At a corn-processing factory, he jokes: 'This is where we build the Iranian atomic bomb. A corn bomb.' Ho, ho, ho." -- Movie critic Stephen Holden, in his June 25 review of Oliver Stone's left-wing documentary "South of the Border."
Rush has spent a considerable portion of today's broadcast ripping into this article by Christine Stapleton of Cox Newspapers, and rightly so, for the first three of the four opening paragraphs that follow:
Despite the warnings of Dick Cheney, George Will, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the Russians are not drilling for oil off Cuba. Neither are the Chinese. In fact, no one — not even Cuba — is drilling for oil off Cuba.
The pesky and persistent rumor, bubbling back up with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is still nothing more than a pesky and persistent rumor — aired in 2008 by former Vice President Cheney (who got the misinformation from conservative columnist Will), repeated on Fox News and recently revived by conservative radio commentator Limbaugh, who told his listeners 10 days after the spill: "The Russians are drilling in a deal with the Cubans in the Gulf. The Vietnamese and Angola are drilling for oil in the Gulf in deals with the Cubans."
However, as oil from BP's exploded well continues surging from the Gulf floor and washing onto Panhandle beaches, the rumor is poised to become fact.
Stephen Holden, the New York Times's most left-wing movie critic (and that's saying something) admires Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez almost as much as left-wing conspiracist/movie director Oliver Stone does.
Stone's new documentary, "South of the Border," features informal interview sessions with several left-wing Latin American leaders, but the screen-time is dominated by Chavez, who Holden holds up as a humorous, "good-hearted man of the people."
Political documentaries shadowed by paranoia and apocalyptic foreboding are so commonplace nowadays that "South of the Border," Oliver Stone's celebration of the leftward tilt of South American politics, comes as a cheerful surprise. As anyone who remembers "JFK," his 1991 film about the Kennedy assassination, can attest, Mr. Stone has his own paranoid tendencies, but they are muted in this provocative, if shallow, exaltation of Latin American socialism.
During "South of the Border" Mr. Stone schmoozes with several left-wing political leaders, including his good buddy the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez; he takes Mr. Stone to his childhood home, where Mr. Chávez mounts a children's bike that collapses under him. Mr. Chávez comes across as a rough-hewn but good-hearted man of the people whose bullheaded determination is softened by a sense of humor. At a corn-processing factory, he jokes: "This is where we build the Iranian atomic bomb. A corn bomb." Ho, ho, ho.
The Venezuelan people are forced to suffer through a marathon of Hugo Chavez appearances on their own television sets. Anything less than total adoration of the weekly host of "Aló Presidente" is severely punished. So with all this unwanted overexposure to the overbearing El Jefe, is it any wonder that Venezuelans are somewhat less than enthusiastic about shelling out their money to watch yet more homage paid to Chavez by filmmaker Oliver Stone in the form of his documentary, South of the Border? As Variety reports, the latest Stone film has turned into a complete bomb in Chavez's own economically troubled country:
Despite a PR and marketing blitz that had Oliver Stone on a whirlwind tour of Latin America, his latest documentary "South of the Border" has sunk like a rock at the Venezuelan box office.
Local observers in Venezuela have reported empty cinemas, indicating a stunning indifference to Stone's pic, a documentary about South American leaders that devotes a hefty amount of screen time to the country's President Hugo Chavez. In the 12 days after its June 4 debut, it grossed only $18,601 on 20 screens, according to Global Rentrak. Showings on mobile screens in rural areas (where Chavez has more popular support) have attracted crowds, but these screenings are free.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
Editor's Note: The following is an open letter from actress Maria Conchita Alonso, who penned this response to actor Sean Penn's recent remarks on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" in which the left-wing actor defended Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
Dear Sean, WHY?
Even though I have great respect for your artistic talent, I was appalled by a recent television interview where you vigorously showed support for the regime of Hugo Chavez. Therefore, I've decided to set the record straight for you regarding the Chavez regime, supporting my case based not only on my political ideologies, but on proven facts you choose to ignore. Otherwise, I believe your position would be different.
Being born in Cuba, a country where freedom of speech is non-existent, it's startling to observe how Venezuela, where I was happily raised, is fast becoming Cuba's mirror image: Dismantling of fundamental democratic rights deserved by its people and citizens of the world.
For example, you said that all Chavez-winning elections in Venezuela were "transparent."
Then WHY didn't the government allow a manual recount of the votes and computer information when doubt set in? After all, how do you explain how these votes that were strongly favoring the opposition mysteriously reflected the opposite results the morning after, thus permitting Chavez to continue on? On what are you basing your conclusions? I strongly recommend that you read a report by the U.S. State Department written in 2009 entitled "The Fraudulent Elections in Venezuela".
On Friday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC’s Bill O’Reilly responded to left-wing actor Danny Glover’s recent comments blaming Haiti’s problems on the U.S., invoking America’s failure to reach an agreement at the Copenhagen summit on climate change. In his show’s "Talking Points Memo," O’Reilly recounted the relatively small amount of aid pledged so far by a number of nations, in comparison to the $100 million America has already pledged to Haiti.
Later, during a segment with Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after Hill had made his best guess at interpreting what Glover meant in his remarks, O’Reilly took particular exception with the liberal actor praising Venezuela in the same statement in which he condemned America, reminding viewers that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had only pledged one plane full of aid to Haiti. O’Reilly: "I got a kick out of Glover, who's a big friend of Hugo Chavez, saying that Venezuela is one of the countries on the point of attack. As you may have heard in the ‘Talking Points Memo,’ Venezuela has sent exactly one plane full of stuff – one – one plane to Haiti."
During the show’s "Talking Points Memo," after relaying that President Obama had so far pledged $100 million in aid, O’Reilly informed viewers of aid pledges at that point made by several other nations:
Four recent stories out of Venezuela each give readers brief glimpses at how Hugo Chavez's brand of authoritarian socialism is critically wounding what could be a resource-rich, financially prosperous country:
January 9, AP -- "Venezuela faces risk of devastating power collapse."
Collectively, however, they depict a country in the early stages of a headlong free-fall into Cuban-style financial ruin. No U.S. establishment media enterprise appears interested in making the accelerating decays in financial well-being and personal freedom in that country understandable to the average person.
AP's headline at the first item noted seems designed to avoid attention. This isn't a mere "weakening" of the currency; instead, it's a bizarre bi-level devaluation of up to 50%:
We have written often about Mark Lloyd, who has since his July 29 appointment been reveling in the position created just for him, "Chief Diversity Officer" at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
As we have repeatedly stated, Chief Diversity Officer Lloyd is virulently anti-capitalist, almost myopically racially fixated and exuberantly pro-regulation.
(It will come as no surprise to those who follow the work of the Media Research Center to learn that Lloyd was also at one time, prior to attending law school, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer for among other outlets NBC and CNN.)
Lloyd is in fact a Saul Alinsky disciple. In his 2006 book entitled Prologue to a Farce: Communication and Democracy in America, he calls for an all-out "confrontational movement" against private media. He wants leftist activists - through incessant political pressure - and the government - through the creation of a totally untenable operating environment of fees, fines and regulations - to work together to force the commercial broadcasters out, to be replaced by public broadcasters.
And in his tome, Lloyd had this to say about the First Amendment:
Imagine if the Congress passed a law mandating that all school students in America be indoctrinated in socialism? Yeah, I know that is precisely the type of indoctrination that is already going on in many classrooms but the reaction to such a law actually spelling this out would cause demonstrations that would dwarf even those currently going on at the tea parties in opposition to ObamaCare. Well, this is precisely what is currently happening in Venezuela where the Hugo Chavez controlled National Assembly recently passed just such a law.
As a result, many previously apathetic Venezuelans are pouring into the streets to protest against this proposed indoctrination of their children. Now it's personal.
Unfortunately most of the MSM in this country are paying little attention even though the size of the demonstration yesterday, in which tear gas was used, is enormous as you can see in this video (note: the commentary reflects Chavista propaganda but the visuals give you an idea of the size):
Here is a brief description of yesterday's massive demostration in downtown Caracas by Rachel Jones of the Associated Press:
On Monday’s Hannity show on FNC, actor Jon Voight accused the press of "protecting" and "covering for" President Obama by not giving enough coverage to dissatisfaction with the President’s economic policies, including the anti-tax TEA party protests:
But the press, the press brought him in, and now they want to make sure that nobody topples the throne, it seems. So they don't report anything that will interfere with his policies. But when the news is biased, it can, you know, it can control the people in a dangerous way. We see what's going on in Venezuela, and we're shocked. We're shocked to see Hugo Chavez closing down the, the opposition media. We're shocked when we see what's happening to the truth in Iran. But this same thing is happening in our country right now. The Obama regime is controlling the press. They protect him, they cover for him, and they don't want the truth to come out that there is this dissatisfaction, that people are waking up, and it's being expressed in these TEA parties.
He also charged that Obama had been dishonest in promising to protect Israel, and that the President had a "cunning ability" to push his policies through Congress without proper debate:
If you heard the leader of a country cursing in public like a drunken sailor (or Randi Rhodes), you would think he is somewhat unbalanced. However, according to Reuters writer, Charlie Devereux, a foul mouth in a nation's leader is something to be lauded if that leader happens to be Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. In fact, Devereux even cites Chavez's foul mouth as a key to his success in a story that brings up topics and words in a bid to attain a level of crudity rarely heard in a wire service article:
CARACAS (Reuters) - A head of state describing a mobile phone by using a crude term for male genitalia would spark outcry in most countries, but in Venezuela such language is a big part of President Hugo Chavez's popular appeal.
Chavez has made vulgar language and insults a trademark of his decade in power. He once told the country he would have sex with his wife when he got home that day, has called Americans "sh**s" and described former U.S. President George W. Bush as "the devil" and a "donkey."
Someone needs to sue Santa Monica High School for education malpractice on behalf of the ill-educated Sean Penn. I mean, the man is nearly illiterate and he certainly has no grasp on history, philosophy, or statecraft. But his wacko left-wing inanities aside, it is his illiteracy that seems the most lamentable. Oh, it isn't Rosie O'Donnell illiterate. Hers is a special class of insensibility all by itself, but Penn's brand is proof of the lowest quality of education. I mean the man can barely put two words together sensibly much less exhibit a grasp of grammar and syntax. It really is a crime how badly he's been educated.
Take for instance his latest Huffington Post blathering where he seems to be saying that all we need to win the day in international relations is to give a "smile." Aside from being childishly simplistic in concept, it has some of the worst word usage and syntax I've seen for a long time in what is supposed to be a leader of opinion (again, Rosie aside).
While reporting on Obama meeting with anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Sunday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Jeff Glor asked political correspondent Jeff Greenfield about a potential negative reaction to the encounter: "Jeff, let's start talking about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. Is there fallout from it, real or imagined?"
Greenfield discounted any criticism as simply being from Obama’s right-wing opponents: "There is fallout among those people who already regard Obama as anything from a socialist, to a fascist, to a dangerously weak president. I'm talking about people on the right. If it doesn't spread beyond that, you're going to have the same situation where about 30% of the country really regards him negatively, but the rest says ‘so far so good.’"
Glor then asked: "Alright, let's talk also domestically now about Cuba. What has changed inside this country that makes these overtures more effective now?" Greenfield responded: "Among younger Cuban-Americans in Florida, there's much less rigidity about Cuba then there was at the time when to be in anyway sympathetic to Castro, or even open to relations, was political death...We also see among conservative groups, the American Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a desire to open markets in Cuba...have made it politically palatable, domestically, for Obama to say ‘let's try something new.’"
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed President Obama’s brief meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas with former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino and former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, wondering: "Have the critics of this photo-op made a mountain out of a molehill?"
In a prior report on the meeting, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "President Obama defends his visit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Asked about the notion that his willingness to talk to enemies of the U.S. was a sign of weakness, the President said it was unlikely that he was endangering the strategic interests of the United States...His simple handshake with Venezuela's president was a symbolic break with the Bush administration policy of shutting out unfriendly nations." Smith repeated Obama’s defense as he later wondered if critics were making too much of the encounter.
Barack Obama is hailed by sycophantic media members as one of the brightest men to ever be President, and was supposed to improve America's standing around the world.
Yet, on Sunday, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez called Obama "a poor ignoramus" who "should read and study a little to understand reality."
Given how impressed news members are with our new President, and how they regularly disparaged the intellectual capacity of George W. Bush, it is going to be very interesting to see how Chavez's comments get covered in the coming days.
Here's how Reuters reported them about seven hours ago:
Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez is "attractive to any journalist" because he's "the epitome of the populist leader" with "plain tastes" and "overwhelming charisma," CNN en español senior anchor Patricia Janiot told journalist Cristian Savio in a recent interview conducted in Spanish.
Blogger and friend of NewsBusters Fausta Wertz has an English translation up at her blog.
An article in yesterday's Washington Post, Jews in S. America Increasingly Uneasy, seemed to be an admirable attempt to expose a growing problem in South America. Unfortunately, on closer inspection, the article is a major disappointment.
It's almost as if the Associated Press's Ian James and the wire service's headline writers think that Hugo Chavez's latest announcement that he plans to expropriate a huge, city block-sized, nearly complete shopping mall is sort of cute and quirky. James even gave it a "clever" name: drive-by socialism.
My post at NewsBusters yesterday noted that James's initial report Sunday evening was short on many details. Today, James filled many of the holes but leaned strongly towards sympathy with the Venezuelan strongman's decision, even avoiding use of the word "expropriating" until the third paragraph. The AP's whitewashing headline seems to be designed to cause readers to yawn and move on to something else.
What seems to have occurred is that poor Mr. Chavez got stuck in traffic and didn't like it. That's all it takes in Venezuela for a project that has surely been years in the making to vanish -- unless Mr. Impulsive changes his mind. Here are excerpts from James's report:
Chavez orders halt to construction of Caracas mall
President Hugo Chavez says he was heading through downtown Caracas when he was shocked by the sight of a huge, nearly finished shopping mall amid the high-rise offices and apartments.
"They had already built a monster there," Chavez said. "I passed by there just recently and said, 'What is this? My God!'"
Hugo Chavez has announced that he plans to expropriate a huge and nearly complete shopping mall in Caracas.
The Spanish language web page of Constructora Sambil that describes the project (pictured at the right) says that it's 21,600 square meters.
Chavez appears to have no idea what he will do with it. The Associated Press's Ian James apparently had no idea what to do with that shocking bit of information. He didn't follow up with any government officials who might have an idea of what Dear Leader has in mind. He didn't explore whether what Sambil has built thus far is useful or sensible for whatever noble purpose Chavez might be considering. He just let the Venezuelan strongman's comment sit there, and instead moved on to his incoherent screed against materialism.
Who would you think is more concerned with the best interest of the United States? Americans? Or those in other countries?
If you chose the latter, then you are likely a liberal. You are also, apparently, like many other countries in the world. Countries that will go from respecting the authority of this nation, to snickering behind our backs at the possibility of electing a President who thinks the world is his constituency, and not his native country.
The media is unconsciously making this obvious, by revealing what may be a major reason we should be concerned about the possibility of the phrase ‘President Barack Obama.’
The world is salivating at the prospect of appeasement, and that will be Obama’s number one foreign policy platform.
Matt Drudge learned long ago that jumping across the pond in the late evening and perusing the British press is a way to get a head start on the news, and in some cases to get news that the American press is ignoring.
The situation with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is an example of the latter.
If it happens, call it The Caracas Crackup -- The UK Telegraph is reporting that the inevitable inefficiences of a state-run enterprise and falling oil prices appear to have the potential to do serious damage to Venezuela's economy:
Venezuela's daily oil production has fallen by a quarter since President Hugo Chavez won power, depriving his "Bolivarian Revolution" of much of the benefit of the global boom in oil prices.
National Public Radio may win the prize as the national media outlet that’s most enthusiastic about a collapse of high finance on Wall Street. On Tuesday night, NPR’s evening newscast All Things Considered publicized the delighted reaction of Venezuelan socialist strongman Hugo Chavez, as reporter Tom Gjelten explained that "free-market fundamentalism" was falling out of favor, and the crisis may mean the "end of Reagan-Thatcherism." It may lead to less "economic preaching" about a "free-market gospel" from Washington. All the story’s experts were critical of "free-market ideologues," with no room for a debate.
Gjelten is married to ABC reporter Martha Raddatz, who also used to work at NPR.
MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. At least one world leader is taking some pleasure in the turmoil on Wall Street. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said today that this week's meltdown shows the free-market approach long promoted by the United States has, in his words, "collapsed." Chavez may be overstating the case, but as NPR's Tom Gjelten reports, the current financial crisis is causing some rethinking of the free-market gospel, especially in Latin America.
Citgo, the Venezuelan-owned oil company, is making a $1.5 million donation to the Silver Spring nonprofit group CASA of Maryland to help fund educational, training and economic development programs for low-income and immigrant workers.
The contribution is the latest effort by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to reach out to the poor in the United States in what critics call an attempt to curry favor with low-income Americans and embarrass President Bush.
Of course CASA de Maryland, among other things, advocates for amnesty for illegal immigrants, yet nowhere in Alejandro Lazo's August 5 article did the Post staffer even mention the word "illegal" to modify the term immigrants.
Barack Obama’s press contingent has shrunk now that the primary campaign is over, but will we learn of everything he’s saying on the stump? On Monday in Flint, Michigan, Obama repeatedly declared that we’re funding terrorists when we buy foreign oil. In Tuesday’s Washington Post, Obama’s Flint speech drew one sentence at the very end of a story on page A-7. Doesn’t this passage stand out? (Courtesy of reporter Lynn Sweet's blog):
Oil money pays for the bombs going off from Baghdad to Beirut, and the bombast of dictators from Caracas to Tehran. Our nation will not be secure unless we take that leverage away, and our planet will not be safe unless we move decisively toward a clean energy future.
This is an odd passage for several reasons. First and foremost, far from taking "leverage" away from dictators in Caracas and Tehran, candidate Obama has explicitly promised to meet them without any troublesome diplomatic preconditions.
Second, Obama’s declaration that our oil purchases buy bombs on the Arab street doesn’t specify whether he means Iran, Saudi Arabia, or somehow al-Qaeda.
Six days after Wall Street Journal's Jose de Cordoba and Jay Solomon published their front-pager, "Chávez Aided Colombia Rebels, Captured Computer Files Show," the Washington Post turned out its coverage of the development by staffer Juan Forero, who pulled a few punches by failing to directly finger Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez:
CARACAS, Venezuela, May 14 -- High-ranking officials in Venezuela offered to help Colombian guerrillas obtain surface-to-air missiles meant to change the balance of power in their war with the Colombian government, according to internal rebel documents.
By comparison, de Cordoba and Solomon brought the Venezuelan dictator front-and-center with their May 9 lede:
BOGOTÁ, Colombia -- A cache of controversial computer files closely tying Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez to communist rebels seeking to topple Colombia's government appear to be authentic, U.S. intelligence officials say.