CNN Exposes ‘Villain’ Chavez’s Dastardly Plot to House the Poor

Corporate media’s depiction of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is often cartoonish, but the lead from David Frum’s piece from CNN.com (10/9/12) takes the cake:

Heath Ledger as The Joker

Heath Ledger as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Venezuela’s authoritarian president Hugo Chavez is a villain out of a Batman movie: buffoonish and sinister in equal measure.

You want to be careful about throwing around words like “buffoonish,” though, when you’re making arguments like “Hugo Chavez has laid Venezuela’s economy to waste.” Here’s a chart of Venezuela’s per capita GDP since 1999, when Chavez was first elected; since 2003, when Chavez took control of the national oil company from its self-enriching management, the purchasing power of the average Venezuelan has increased more than two and a half times. We should all be so wasted!

Venezuelan GDP per capita (PPP) (US$)

These numbers come from the CIA World Factbook, by the way, not exactly a source known for its Bolivarian sympathies.

What really seems to rankle Frum, though, is not how well Venezuela’s economy is doing but who it’s benefiting, characterizing the channeling of the country’s oil wealth to the poor as “massive government vote-buying.” As an example, he cites a program “that aims to build 200,000 housing units for Venezuela’s poor.”

Only a supervillain could conceive of so dastardly a plot.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.