By Matt Ferrero
At the United Nations press conference last week, Hugo Chavez was asked to defend his decision to suspend the broadcast license of Radio Caracas Television. The accusation, he reported, was a boldfaced lie.
A lie reported by media like TVes -- the Venezuelan government's own public television station -- using equipment confiscated from Radio Caracas Television.
Being more skeptical of anything I see on Venezuelan government television, I wrote Mr. Chavez a letter to come to his defense:
Dear Mr. President,
I bet you're tired, so I'll keep this short. It's tough to go through a UN press conference when the style is so different from what you're used to. Reporters here can just be so... Critical. Let me just say that I, at least, know where you're coming from.
After eleven years of unlimited service, it hurts to be compared to Benito Mussolini. Just remember that it would be difficult for any revolutionary leader to consolidate government power for a decade without collecting a few naysayers. With all you've accomplished, I'd consider having to survive only one coup a sign of approval. Given such slander, you're brave to preside over the "freest press Venezuela has ever seen." It's remarkable that your 240 radio stations can remain so democratic when only forty percent of them are currently under federal investigation for harming the "mental health of the people."
I say go ahead. Shut down thirty-four broadcast media stations. Confiscate the equipment owned by a critical television station to use for your new public news channel. It's time to take a strong hand to those journalists who have abused their power by inciting "anxiety, concern and panic." If the Venezuelan people start to hear more about the billions of dollars they're losing to official corruption, they might be concerned indeed.
See RUTV Creator Tala Dowlatshahi question Chavez on his treatment of the press:
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