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Hugo The Boss: Executive Summary

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 American media have covered the ports controversy with almost 24-7 dedication. But the networks have ignored a far bigger security threat. As energy prices have spiked and world demand increased, the United States’ reliance on oil controlled by Venezuela’s anti-American despot Hugo Chavez has become a real danger. But it’s a danger the networks barely even mention.

     Chavez took over as leader of America’s third-largest oil importer in 1998 and the broadcast media have done little to acknowledge the threat that entails. Now, as relations between the United States and Venezuela deteriorate, Americans have been left in the dark about the danger of a man who is spending his nation’s oil wealth to export “revolution” and threatens to cut off oil to America. Even those latest threats have been ignored by both ABC and NBC.

     The Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute looked at all 139 news and news-related stories on the broadcast networks about Hugo Chavez since he took power in 1998. Here are some of the conclusions:


    ‘Left-leaning’ Like John Kerry: The media downplayed the radical politics of Chavez by using the same terms they used for Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and Walter Mondale. Few stories even acknowledged the anti-American nature of Chavez’s regime.


    The Man Behind Citgo: Chavez exerts complete control over the state oil company which, in turn, owns one of America’s most famous gasoline retailers – Citgo. That amounted to $785 million in profits for Venezuela in 2005. Only four stories (3 percent) acknowledged the connection with Citgo.


    Wrongs Not Rights: 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. The phrase “human rights” was used in only one story about Chavez’s regime.


    Turning Up the Heat on Bush: Each of the broadcast networks did a story about Chavez’s oil “gift” to America’s poor. Each one managed to find a Democratic spokesman and a recipient, who were happy to ignore Chavez’s politics. That low-cost aid, handled through Citgo, is now being looked into by Congress.