The Buffoonization of Hugo Chavez

Never do the so-called reliable mainstream media sources focus on figures like a drop in poverty from 71% in 1996 to 23% in 2010, or that Venezuela is meeting its UN Millennium Development targets. Instead, slander, invective, and a generalized muddying of the waters, are the tools of the ‘diligent reporting’ of the ‘venerable’ corporatist press.

“We were always cautious about the triumph of President Obama. Early on, we began to take note of the truth, that the empire is here, alive and more threatening than ever.”

– Hugo Chavez Frias

It is said when you can’t beat ‘em, that you might as well make common cause with them, but in the case of President Hugo Chavez and the government of Venezuela this doesn’t seem to be the logical choice of the U.S. State Department and the corporate ‘mainstream’ media at all. Since the Obama State Department and its auxiliaries are incapable of debunking the unequivocal success of the Bolivarian revolution, and since the CIA’s forays into the Bolivarian Republic have been far from a success, the corporate MSM seems to be employing the strategy that if you can’t beat ‘em, then you might as well throw a whole bunch of mud in their eye.

Craven and seemingly incapable of a fair fight, the corporate ‘mainstream’ media egregiously goes for the low blow, each and every time. The propaganda and half-truth, levied against the sitting Venezuelan President, at times veers into the realm of classifying Chavez as a dictatorial strongman — which has never stopped the U.S. government before — but I think the lion’s share of the effort to impugn and delegitimize Chavez is to make him out to be playing with something far short of a full deck.

Perhaps most recognizably, we have seen the baseness of the coverage of President Chavez in colorful remarks that he has made about George W. Bush being the devil, or in his referring to Sarah Palin as a confused beauty pageant contestant. These comments have been made out to be the zenith of President Chavez’s intellectual powers. Although the Venezuela leader, may at times make these sort of flip, off the cuff remarks and comments, his raising of serious and incisive points about the United States empire and belligerent ‘hegemonic’ power generally go unnoticed by a media, which are seemingly looking to do nothing other than lampoon and skewer the Bolivarian President.

Presumably, anyone who opposes — and has a coherent critique — of U.S. neocolonialism and imperialism is some kind of a buffoon or imbecile. History, of course, ended long ago, and anyone looking to swim against the tide of the straitjacket that the wealthiest countries want to affix upon the rest of humanity, apparently must be hopelessly misinformed and/or wildly out of touch. Never do the so-called mainstream media reliable sources focus on figures like a drop in poverty from 71% in 1996 to 23% in 2010, or that Venezuela is meeting its UN Millennium Development targets. Instead, slander, invective, and a generalized muddying of the waters are the tools of the ‘diligent reporting’ of the ‘venerable’ corporatist press.

Time Magazine, for example, in an article in 2007, referred to Chavez as a budding movie mogul, for funding a project on Toussaint L’Ouverture with the veteran American actor and activist Danny Glover. Time opined, in that piece of incomparable ‘journalism’, that this would probably be just the beginning, of Chavez’s forays into socialist propaganda films. One would think that the apropos question for Time’s reportage, would be why would such a seasoned and respected actor of Hollywood need to go outside of the U.S. to fund this kind of project — of such an important figure of Haitian history and even the history of the world? And one can only imagine the coverage of L’Ouverture, by the Western media of his day. He was probably the Hugo Chavez of his era, and almost undoubtedly accused of being something like an inciter of riots, for realizing that people born in chains might want some modicum of freedom.

The Los Angeles Times devoted critical resources recently, to informing their audience that Hugo Chavez had opened a Twitter account. The Times — in a testament to their abilities of ‘objective’ news-making — said they were glued to Chavez’s tweets, because of the man’s “sometimes unpredictable actions.” Moreover, they erroneously reported that Chavez had a tight grip on the media in his country, when the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Venezuelan media is rabidly anti-Chavez, and firmly in the hands of the Venezuelan elite.

Progressive commentator Mark Weisbrot, has even likened the Venezuelan private media’s coverage of Chavez, to Fox News’ coverage of Barack Obama in the United States. Though Weisbrot went even further, saying that the Venezuelan private media is more politicized, more prone to hyperbole, and less rooted in facts — as compared to Rupert Murdoch’s virulent propaganda operation in the U. S. In concluding the LA Times article, unequivocally a Pulitzer level, erudite piece, the Times talked to U.S. State Department spokesmen Philip Crowley. Crowley soberly told the Times reporter that he simply couldn’t resist being a Twitter follower of President Hugo Chavez’s numerous tweets.

The corporate media is, of course, replete with this kind of shoddy, trivialized, and half-baked ‘journalism’. And apparently one needs to be a highly celebrated and Academy Award winning film maker to get any kind of substantive, reasonably fair coverage of Venezuela in the U.S. corporatist fourth estate. A recent piece on Oliver Stone’s newest documentary in the tabloid the New York Daily News, actually raised some sober-minded points about Venezuela — things that are regularly redacted from most of the mainstream accounts. Things like, that the ‘bad guys’ in this narrative are really the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, and colonial powers such as Britain and Spain. And also that there is widespread popular support for Hugo Chavez in his home country; he’s not just some clownish Svengali who has a nation by the horns.

The article also quotes Stone’s accurate contention, that there’s been virtually no change whatsoever emanating from the administration of Barack Obama. Reading this is sort of information in the American mainstream media, is almost not to be believed, because it is just the kind of thing that is perennially missing from the one side of the issue that the ‘mainstream’ chooses to support. And as George Orwell famously noted in his seminal work of fiction 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” It’s no wonder Venezuela, almost undoubtedly, could surely be just another potential territory ripe for invasion, and the spreading of  ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ and ‘nation-building’ one day; on the not all too distant horizon. Especially, when considering a media that succeeds in redefining up as down and rewriting history according to the worldview that it is — self-referentially — operating from.

One would think, if s/he puts any stock in the MSM’s egregious, slanderous actions, that a dictatorial, oafish, president controls the state of Venezuela. The truth of the matter, is, undeniably, that making progress on the fronts where President Hugo Chavez has been successful would be impossible if Venezuela were being shepherded by just another one of the stewards of U.S. imperial mandates. And it would, irrefutably, be nothing more than a vassal, wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States.

Sean Fenley is an independent progressive, who would like to see some sanity brought to the creation and implementation, of current and future, U.S. military, economic, foreign and domestic policies.