Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has drawn worldwide attention by closing
34 radio stations and considering a law that would punish "media crimes
with up to four years in prison. The law would target media members who
"harm the interests of the state," "cause panic," or "disturb social
peace." Close observers of foreign affairs evaluated
what this should mean for Venezuela's relationship to the rest of the
End Liberal Chavez Worship
Denis MacShane of the Guardian argued
that Britain should
"admit that its uncritical admiration for Chávez has passed its use-by
date." Since Chavez has proven himself "a demagogue," MacShane said that Britain
should support Chile's social democracy instead. In Washington, Reason's Michael C. Moynihan chided Americans
like Jesse Jackson and Gore Vidal for urging leniency towards Venezuela. "It is worth reiterating what should be (but isn't) obvious
Western sycophants: Venezuela is no longer a democracy, despite
Chavez's victories at the ballot box," he stated.
Venezuela Still Freer Than America
That's what Marc Weisbrot, also the Guardian, contended
Though condemning Chavez's media crimes law, he maintained that "there
is a much more oppositional media in Venezuela than in the US, and a
much greater range of debate in the major media." Weisbrot explained
that "the vast majority of the media in Venezuela is still controlled
by the rightwing opposition" and behave as "political actors" which
sometimes suggest, among other things, that Chavez should be lynched.
"Its media routinely broadcasts reporting and commentary that would not
be allowed under FCC rules in the US," he wrote. If American media were
as free as Venezuela's, he concludes, Americans would only know hear
the right-wing perspectives and "Barack Obama could never have been
Don't Get Any Ideas, Obama.
Powerline's John Hinderaker wondered
how "American leftists" would take the news. "I suspect that a lot of
them would like to enact similar measures here," he wrote. " That's
what the 'fairness doctrine' is all about."
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