Chavez — RCTV Was Just An Appetizer

Ahh, the Chavez apologists said it was just RCTV, it was only because of their participation in the coup… But now he’s got Globovision in his sights:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez resurfaced on Tuesday, two days after the end of broadcasts of private television station RCTV and, in a mandatory nationwide radio and TV broadcast, he warned the media, in particular news TV channel Globovisión, “to cool down” because he would not tolerate the media to create national chaos by staging a “show” aimed at “heating” the streets.

“You, brother, up there in the hills on Caracas, in (low-income areas) Petare, Catia, 23 de enero, and even here in (coastal) Vargas state, listen up! If we had to launch another April 13, I will command it myself to defend our revolution from this renewed fascist assault! I am warning the people and the enemies of the motherland -those who are behind the scenes-, and I want to say their full name: Globovisión!” the ruler added. Reference was made to April 13, 2002 -the day when he returned to power following a coup d’etat two days earlier.

Chávez also claimed that following his decision on RCTV, “some destabilizing players joined the game.”

“Greetings, Globovisión, you will see where you will go,” Chávez said during an event where he granted social security pensions to 50,000 housewives.

“You may move forward, and you may continue to call people to disobedience and encouraging my assassination, like you did openly late Sunday (May 27), if you want to. But I am warning you in front of the country, take my advice, take a sedative and cool down. Otherwise, I will take care of Globovisión myself.”

But no, this isn’t about free speech, is it?

  • Dave

    Free Speech? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise encouraging the assassination of the president is protected speech. My fault.

  • trumpetbob15


    Perhaps you didn’t see the movie “Death of a President,” a mock documentary about Bush being assassinated in Chicago. From what I have heard, the director and others associated with that film aren’t in jail. I guess it is free speech after all.

  • MnZ

    Dave, according to reports, Globovision’s supposed call for Chavez’s assassination amounted to showing pictures of the attempted assassination of John Paul II and playing salsa music.

    Pretty thin gruel…and fitting of an regime that idolizes Castro.

  • Rigoberto Muniz

    ”Chavez loves the poor people so much he’s created millions of new ones.”

    The fact of the matter is that students took to the streets showing courage against the hordes of para-military troops shooting plastic bullets against the massive crowds. Despite the criminal lackeys assaulting innocent and peaceful people in protest against maffioso dictator Castro “wannabe” Hugo Chavez Frias, the people of Venezuela are defending liberty.

    Dictator Chavez is moving Venezuela from Democracy unto an authoritarian regime

    “Chavez knows that he cannot establish the dictatorship that he wants to establish in Venezuela without control over the media. A free press is the essential element of a free society.”

    Here is another fact hard to ignore:
    “Venezuela a solid claim to the dubious title of the world’s capital of violent crime. According to U.N. figures, the rates of gun-related violence are higher here than anywhere else on earth.”

    Under the Hugo’ regime we have more people dead by crime than the bloody war in Iraq

    “Venezuela, a country of 26 million, has recorded an average of nearly 10,000 homicides a year since Chavez took office. The homicide rate, 37 deaths per 100,000 people, is more than double what it was in the 1990s.”

    I have these words of advice: never bite the hand that feeds you, two wrongs don’t make it a right and remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

  • Juan Lopez

    Ok, I don’t know why there are so many supporters of Chavez out there. I assume these people are misinformed.

    1.- Chavez is threatening the people to not protest otherwise they “are going to get it”. That is not freedom of speech

    2.- I have seen videos of Chavez supporters shooting at protestors, and the police don’t do anything about it. On the other hand there are more than 100 students that are in jail because they protested peacefully. This is not freedom.

    Oh by the way, these are videos from the globovision channel that chavez wants to close.

    This is not freedom!

  • tarran

    Here is the offending video segment.

    My Spanish is so piss-poor that I am not going to attempt to translate it. Nor can we say much in that it is only 36 seconds of the program. It would be interesting to put it in context with the rest of the program which I understand was an interview with the General Director of RCTV and included retrospective video clips.

  • Brendan

    Did RCTV or Globovision display freedom of speech when they chose not to inform the venezuelan public of the events of April 13 when their 8 times democratically elected reclaimed control of the country from the media backed coup of 2 days earlier?

    Would the US renew the license of a tv station that backed a coup to depose the president?

    When the media is democratized and not owned by private vested interests who push a biased editorial agenda it will be possible to have freedom of speech.

  • tarran

    So Brendan, what you’re saying is that only government officials should be permitted to use mass media?!? Or are you arguing that there should be no such thing as Freedom of speech, because it is impossible to have it?

    After all, everybody, including government officials have some ‘vested interest’. Here in the U.S, we had the head of the DEA crowing over the arrest of somebody who ran a magazine dedicated to ending the drug war. Mind you, they couldn’t pull the “printing license” of his magazine, so they found another way to shut him down. Of course, in the meantime, they are publishing deomonstrably false propaganda and meddling in local referenda to keep the drug war going. Since they have a vested interest in the criminalization of marijuana, they are broadcasting disinformation to the public to keep the laws from being repealed.

    The fact is, freedom of the press, true freedom, means that those who own printing presses (or by extension radio transmitters, websites, billboards) can chose what information they disseminate or not disseminate using their property.

    It means that a news program can choose to show cartoons instead of a riot, or a riot instead of a speech, or a speech instead of a riot, or even to turn their transmitters off.

    It means that if a station wants they can publish the most despicable claptrap, such as supporting Maoism, or denying the Holocaust, or advocating for segregation, or calling for a governemnt monopoly on health care. Freedom means freedom from control. You’re either for letting people be free, or you want to control them. You can’t credibly claim like a certain U.S. presidential candidate does that freedom comes from the obedience to authority.

    Speaking of the U.S., I’m still puzzled why fans of Hugo Chavez keep pointing to the FCC policies in comparison. The FCC has meddled in politics; the most blatant case that leaps to my mind occurred when they shut down a libertarian radio station in Hawaii in the early 1970’s for the crime of, well, denouncing govenrment control of the airwaves. It was wrong when the U.S. government did it, and it is wrong when Chavez does it.

    As to myself, when I consider the morality of an act, the nationality of the actor is immaterial.

  • Brad Warbiany

    Did RCTV or Globovision display freedom of speech when they chose not to inform the venezuelan public of the events of April 13 when their 8 times democratically elected reclaimed control of the country from the media backed coup of 2 days earlier?

    Yeah, the sounds like freedom of speech to me. It may be irresponsible, it may be a disservice to their viewers, but I think the definition of freedom of speech is the freedom to broadcast or not broadcast on whatever subject you choose.

    Would the US renew the license of a tv station that backed a coup to depose the president?

    I wouldn’t call the FCC a free organization, so it’s a bit of a moot point. If the US tried to shut down such a station, I would oppose the action, just as I oppose the action in Venezuela.

    When the media is democratized and not owned by private vested interests who push a biased editorial agenda it will be possible to have freedom of speech.

    Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one. If you really want a “democratized” media, you should be looking at the internet, where it truly is possible for anyone to own a “printing press”.

    But just indulge me for a minute. What is a “democratized” media? What is the definition of the term? I have a feeling that you and I would define such a term differently, because democracy is a political term, not a term related to media structure. Can you explain?

  • Brendan

    Since the media (TV,Radio & print) is the predominant medium for ordinary non internet using memebers of the public to receive information upon which they can make informed choices in a democratic system it is of the utmost importance that they are provided with both sides of an argument.

    If you take the example of Athenian democracy, the public (all of whom were educated to the same degree) received all sides of an argument in a public arena before voting on a proposal or change of law. It is this general system that should be employed in the modern day media world.

    Take for example the murdoch media empire. Because of the financial clout that his networks posess, they are in a position to firstly buy up any local media outlests in order to achieve a monopoly. Secondly, they are able to have the most up to date coverage hence are more attractive to the general public when choosing a news channel to watch and are then at an advantage over smaller media outlets. This allows them to get their biased editorial line over to more people.

    Therefore the public are not receiving all of the information or views that should be available them. RCTV being a case in point. At the time of the coup the coup leaders took control of the government tv station channel 8. There was no way of getting what was happening at the presidential palace across to the venezuelan general public. That is a restriction on freedom of speech. It took CNN, a foreign media outlet to report that the coup had been toppled.

    To clarify, and I’ll be the first to admit it is utopian, all media outlets should be non profit making organisations whose producers are elected at the same time as the government is elected and space is given to all people who were voted in by the public. There should also be an avenue for views that are not held by any of the elected representatives such as extreme right, left or any persuasion. The public can then decide for themselves.

  • tarran


    Brendan, before I light into your arguments, :), I want to applaud you for citing the Athenian democracy in your arguments. All too often, people look into their heads, and fail to actually review the bits of history that test their theories.

    I agree that anyone looking to analyze the behavior of democracies should look to the experiment in Athens; while it is not the only pure democracy in human history, it is one of the best documented ones. With that being said, all democracies tend to be very harsh in their treatments of individuals, and Athens was no exception. The tradition of ostracism, wherein anyone could be sent into exile at the whims of the mob is a great illustration of this characteristic.

    It is very instructive to look at how the Athenian democracy fared. Despite the wealth and vast resources it commanded, it collapsed in war and internal intrigue. Demogouges like Pericles convinced the Athens to embark on foolish adventures. The spoils that came with political power ensured savage fighting between residents. The life and death of Alkibides is very instructive on this point.

    The dynamic that destroyed Athenian civilization is precisely the reason why I am a strong opponent of democracies.

    OK, Great, but this is beside the point at hand: you are asserting that since an informed populace makes wiser decisions than an ignorant one, owners of mass media have an obligation to do expose their neighbors to all the information the neighbors need to make these informed decisions.

    I do agree that informed people tend to make better decisions than ignorant ones.

    However, it is your concept of the obligations of media owners that I disagree with. It comes down to a combination of practical matters and theory.

    My theory is that a person who owns something has the right to control it. So long as you are not squishing people in a printing press, what you, the owner, do with it is completely up to you. You could use it to publish whatever you care to publish, or choose to let it sit there gathering cobwebs.

    You are arguing, however, that the printing press owner has an obligation to publish “both sides” of an argument. Now, first, I should point out that most controversies do not have only two sides. Political controversies may have three, four, five, or even a million different proposed solutions. If I were to try to publish a newspaper that gave every side to every particular story affecting the residents of my town, I doubt that I could physically do it. My printing presses would have to print what amounts to a new book for each reader every day. If I allowed anyone who wanted to to include their point of view in my daily book, the books would balloon in size. If I tried to exercise editorial control to make things manageable, I would, in effect, be denying access to the views or arguments that I felt were not worthy.

    Given a newspaper the size of a Grisham novel every day, most readers would skip the material anyway, meaning that much of the writing, editing and layout would go to waste.

    In the end, I would either go bankrupt or have to exercise editorial control over my content. The moment I start doing that, then I am betraying your ideal of informing the electorate.

    Most people who oppose private editorial control of the press suggest systems like the Fairness Doctrine or government boards that compel media owners to broadcast multiple sides of an issue.

    What this does, though, is to shift the editorial control to government officials. These officials then substitute their own editorial control with all its biases and prejudices for that of the owners. Even worse, since they have a monopoly on information, it is impossible for radical, new notions to get a footing in the ideas marketplace: any new competitor must submit to the same uniform editorial policy.

    You are concerned about a wealthy person splashing down, and buying up all mass media outlets and thus gaining control over the society. I won’t deny that this happens, but in a regime of private media ownership, their control is fleeting and hard to maintain. They are always one or two competitors away from being busted. If they lie repeatedly, increasingly people will become aware of this fact and start to discount them. Take Fox news. Today, they are increasingly seen as a joke! I have committed neocon relatives, who are big supporters of Fox news, and even they laughingly admit that it is not reliable.

    Which brings us to the heart of the matter, who pays. Your vision of a media industry that is non-profit would be disastrous in practice. Again, let us contrast a free market system with the altruistic one:

    In the system I advocate, people are free to produce whatever media they want. Some people will produce stuff at a loss; other people will try to make media that is sold for more than it cost ot make, i.e. turn a profit. Every one of them is trying to attract consumers to consume their media. Thus, the media has to be, 1) worth the cost to consumers, and 2) often pay for itself.

    The only way a media empire can turn a profit is if they get a lot of repeat custom. Thus, they must keep the consumers happy. If they fail, they will lose market share to outside competitors.

    Imagine that I was a very wealthy man. So I go out, and i buy every TV station, every newspaper, every radio station, every ISP that I can get my hands on. Then, because I am such a big fan of heavy metal, monty python and sumo wrestling (really), I convert my stations’ programming to cover only those subjects. If you like country music, you can’t listen to it. If you are interested in weather reports, you won’t find them on my stations. Good like getting to a web page that isn’t dedicated to one of those subjects.

    As you could probably guess, my revenues would start to collapse as people stopped buying my papers and listening to my ads. In the meantime, people looking to start radio stations that play country music would find it easy to get capital. Consumers would find ways to bypass me. Eventually, I would find myself competing with new newspapers and TV stations, or even new technologies. I would be hemorrhaging customers, until I either changed my programming, stabilized at a small customer base, or went out of business.

    It’s important to note that the ability to turn a profit would hasten my demise. A person would not need a fortune to sink into competing with me. The possibility of paying out a profit would make it easier to find investors willing to fund new competing channels.

    Remember, these organizations all are run to please whomever is paying them money. Profitable businesses please the customers who are purchasing their services, generally viewers or advertisers.

    In a non profit regime, the situation would be far different. To start a new station, a person would have to have a fortune that they were willing to sink into the station. It would limit media ownership to the wealthy. The non-profits would only have an incentive to please their donors. Such high barriers to entry would protect established media companies from competition and encourage the development of monopolies, oligopolies or cartels, all of which are bad for consumers.

    In the end, the free market is the best solution. Let those who own stuff use it as they see fit. Most of the time, they will use their stuff in the most profitable manner they can think of. This in turn ensures that they will identify people willing to pay for media, and do their best to satisfy them. It reduces barriers for new actors to enter the field to the minimum possible. It ensures competition and discourages cartelization since any shoddy work by one media company gives a competing media company an opportunity to siphon off customers.

    In a free market regime, it is the customers, the public who consumes the media, who decide what companies thrive, and what companies fail. It is the public, through thousands of decisions who control what is shown and what is not. They know what they want far better than any group of censors who are acting out of public-spirited high-mindedness.

  • Brad Warbiany


    Not to necessarily pile on to what tarran already said, but I’ve got a second point.

    Does Chavez taking down RCTV, threatening Globovision, and threatening local radio stations unfriendly to Chavez actually improve the situation? Is Chavez ever going to really allow both sides to get their story out, once he cements his power?

    The only way to ensure that all sides are represented are to keep the government’s hands out of it. Government may have a stated goal of producing “fairness” and “balance”, but how often does government ever do what they intend to? Government does what is in government’s interest. My argument isn’t pro-America and anti-Chavez, it’s pro-freedom and anti-government.