Networks Ignore Hugo Chavez's Power Grab, Move to Seize Oil, Telecom

     The South American dictator who famously called President Bush “the devil” during a UN speech is one step closer to nationalizing his country’s oil. Yet the same day that Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez received new powers to rule by decree, none of the three broadcast evening news programs carried the story.

      “Venezuela's congress extended the authority of the president, Hugo Chavez, yesterday when it passed a measure allowing him to rule by decree. The legislation gives Mr. Chavez powers to transform 11 ‘strategic areas’ by decree over the coming 18 months to pave the way for ‘21st-century socialism,’” reported Dan Glaister in the February 1 edition of the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian.

     The move raises the possibility of full-scale nationalization of the petroleum and telecommunications industries in Venezuela, both of which have significant American capital invested. In other words, American companies and their stockholders face millions in losses should Chavez seize private assets.

     What’s more, as the third-largest source of oil to the United States, all Americans have a direct interest in how Chavez’s seizure of oil will affect the global price of the commodity, and by extension, of gasoline, jet fuel, and other petroleum products that literally fuel the American economy .

     The media’s lack of interest in Chavez’s dictatorship and its implications for American businesses and consumers is nothing new.  Last March the Business & Media Institute published “Hugo the Boss,” a look at the media’s disinterest in the Venezuelan president’s Marxist policies, propaganda, and power grabs.

     “None of the networks paid any significant attention to the many human rights abuses of the Chavez regime. Left-wing groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch complained about murders, detentions, assaults on press freedom and control of the judiciary, but only 10 percent (14 out of 139) of the news stories made any mention of any violations,” BMI noted in its Special Report.