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Bashing Big Oil, CBS Still Downplays Hugo Chavezs Use of Oil Profits

Hugo Chavez is pumping some of his billions in oil money into undermining American interests.

     The same night on the CBS Evening News, correspondent Byron Pitts slammed American petroleum companies as harming consumers and even their own gas station owners, though the Citgo station owner he featured worked for a company owned by Venezuela.

     Over on ABC, correspondent Dan Harris was more realistic. Before you get too steamed at the oil companies, take a hard look at oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela, Harris said.

     Its the producers, of oil, countries like Chavezs Venezuela, that make the lions share of the profit, Thompson Financial research director Michael Thompson told ABC News.

     Harris informed viewers that Chavezs regime stood to gain $34 billion from oil sales this year, money which helps the countrys dictator to support anti-U.S. politicians across Latin America.

     Harriss description was accurate but pulled some punches. Chavez has a well-documented history of consolidating his already-tight grip on Venezuelan oil to finance his regime at home and socialist allies abroad, including Cubas Fidel Castro, whom he supplies with cheap oil.

     Yet CBSs Pitts ignored Chavezs political gamesmanship as he featured a gas station owner upset at his stations fuel supplier, Citgo.

     Surging oil profits arent shared by gas station owners like Sal Sarra. He feels squeezed like everyone else, Pitts complained, introducing the Citgo station owner. Everybodys paying that high price so somebody can get big and fat on the other end, complained Sarra.

     Pitts didnt explain that its the anti-American Chavez who is getting big and fat from Citgo sales. Citgo, unlike publicly-traded corporations like ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) or BP (NYSE: BP), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., and therefore has no publicly-traded equity securities, according to the company Web page.

     While Sarra couldnt buy stock in the company he works for even if he wanted to do so, some 41 percent of all oil stock is owned by retirement funds with millions of American beneficiaries, as ABCs Harris noted in his World News Tonight report.

     On March 1, the Business & Media Institute released a comprehensive study on the medias sparse coverage of the Venezuelan dictator.