‘Passionate,’ ‘Dignified,’ ‘Intelligent,’… ABC Describes Dictator Hugo Chavez

March 16th, 2007 12:00 PM

     While viewers were told that the interview with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez “pulled no punches,” you sure could have fooled anyone watching. ABC’s March 16 “Good Morning America” treated Chavez as a man who “does like this country.”

     She actually meant the United States.

     Flashback to the same network in 2005. Reporter Dan Harris of ABC’s “World News Tonight” was more up front about Chavez in a Nov. 6, 2005, report: “Venezuelan leftist leader Hugo Chavez, who led an anti-American rally while talks for free trade were taking place.”

     “Anti-American rally,” but he loves America. And that was followed by months of saber rattling that upped the world price of oil.

     Even in the Walters piece, Chavez continued the theme. “It is the government and the elite of the U.S. which is overwhelming all the countries in the world,” he said, notably not just blaming Bush as Walters had claimed.

     This isn’t new for the networks to give Chavez the kid-glove treatment. In a Business & Media Institute report released in 2006, BMI revealed that the networks even called him “leftist” or “left-leaning” and were reluctant to admit he was more than just an elected president.

     Between interviewer Barbara Walters and GMA host Robin Roberts, they called Chavez a wide range of complimentary terms: “passionate,” “dignified,” “intelligent” and said he loves coffee. That’s the conclusion of a preview of an exclusive interview with a man who has threatened to shut off oil to the U.S. and who even human rights groups criticize for his abuse of power.

     And pity the poor ABC producer who actually wasted 25 seconds of air time on a discussion of Chavez’s love of coffee. “Yeah, I will drink it. I drink a lot of coffee. Beyond any advisable or any medical recommendation.”

     Chavez was drinking the coffee. Was Walters drinking the Kool-Aid?