On PBS, Oliver Stone Loved Hugo Chavez Calling Dubya the 'Devil': 'It's True'

Here’s another slightly dated example of leftist America-bashing on the taxpayer-funded airwaves over the patriotic holiday weekend. PBS talk-show host Tavis Smiley interviewed leftist director Oliver Stone on July 2 about his Hugo Chavez-smooching documentary South of the Border. Stone denounced Hillary Clinton as "an agent of the old empire game," and when Smiley nudged Stone about Chavez’s remarks, Stone insisted he loved it when Chavez called Bush the Devil: "I think that’s a great comment. I think it’s true....He is the devil. He was."

Smiley didn’t simply celebrate Stone (as he did, with say, Van Jones, boldly professing he would take a bullet for Jones), but he was gentle in bringing up some hard questions. He suggested he didn’t really want to dwell on the Bush-as-Satan stuff:

SMILEY: If I'd wanted to, I could have done this. I didn't want to waste our time doing it, but because the stuff is so easily found all over the internet - you know where I'm going with this.

You know, on the regular, there are statements made by Chavez that cause people in this country to shudder, all kinds of things, about everything that Chavez - as you know, he's not shy about speaking his mind. So he has made all kinds of comments about all kinds of things. None of those statements give you reason to believe that he's gone a bit off the range?

STONE: No, no. Listen, I was with him not too long ago. I was with him in 2007 and 2009. I mean, he's under attack, but he's a free man and I think sometimes he speaks without perhaps - he's a big bear of a man. He's gruff, you know, and he sometimes speaks off the cuff. He is a popular leader, but he serves the people. He's not corrupt in any way. I find him a free soul.

SMILEY: Off the cuff remarks, off the wall remarks, two different things. You think they're off the cuff, not off the wall?

STONE: Well, I don't know which ones you're referring to. I mean, if he's calling Bush - "the Devil was here yesterday" - you know, I think that's a great comment. I think it's true. I mean, at that point, Bush was going to war in Iraq against the wishes of the majority of the United Nations.

By the way, as somebody has pointed out, Chavez at the U.N. that day got the most longest applause of anybody there at the entire sessions. It's quite something. So North America has made a big issue of everything he says, but, you know, Bush is the one who started the war.

The coup d'etat of 2002, you know, was initiated by the Venezuelan oligarchy and supported and abetted by the U.S. and we make that very clear in the film.

SMILEY: I'll recall that comment about Bush as long as I live. As you may have heard -

STONE: - Well, he is the devil. He was.

Smiley deserves some credit for questioning around the edges about Chavez’s dictatorial tendencies, even as Stone denied it all as ridiculous. When Smiley asked whether Obama was different than Bush, he complained it was "Bush lite," and knocked Hillary Clinton:

You know, Hillary was down there a few weeks ago and there she was trying to separate Ecuador from Venezuela. She's an agent of the old empire game. It's a dead end for us. We keep overreaching. We want to control anybody who steps out of line, which is a regional power....

We are saying - basically, you know what it is? The pact for the New American Century, remember from the 1990s, when Bush and Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz, wrote that pact about the American unilateral control of the world. We will brook the appearance. We will not allow for the emergence or any military or economic rival. I went into that in the W film I did on Bush.

This is our policy and, whatever Obama says, this is what he's pursuing in Afghanistan. There's been no real change in that policy. We have our empire; we are number one. We are the world's policemen and we will not brook an interference in that. The tone is lighter; the words are lighter, but it's a soft power.

It’s not strictly anti-American to knock President Bush or Hillary Clinton, but Stone had a more generic critique of "our empire," and overall American arrogance in global affairs:

STONE: The U.S. has knocked off so many reformers over the last hundred years, but they've all emerged independently. Except for Castro, they all went down, every single one from Guatemala, Panama, Brazil, Chile, constantly. This is the first time we have not been able to do anything. Hopefully, this is going to stay stable, but right now we're fighting actively to get rid of them.

SMILEY: You're not naive, obviously. You like shaking things up, don't you?

STONE: No, I like -

SMILEY: Yeah, you do. Come on.

STONE: If I were, I'd be more political. I'd be more overt.

SMILEY: This isn't political and overt?

STONE: Well, I like making movies. I love feature movies, as you know, but documentaries are fresh and they keep me humble and they keep me in the field. If I can contribute a little light to the worldwide cause and alert people in our country as to what our empire is really doing, I think I'd be doing some good in my life.

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