BBC “Hard Talk” With President Hugo Chavez Frias

On June 15, Stephen Sackur hammered away at President Hugo Chávez Frias in a BBC interview in Caracas

– or as Mark Weisbrot wrote,

it was actually a debate, not an interview.

[ ‘A BBC Debate : Not An Interview’  – number two in a new series  – part one here ]

It was also clearly meant to provoke Chávez who responded with emotion at times,

not with guarded parsing of words and supressed, boring double-speak so typical of heads of state.

The corporate media and opposition hecklers then attempted to emphasize Chávez’ emotional response as a weakness.

What was interesting to us about this debate is how two opposing sides view the “interview” quite differently.

While the reactionaries in Venezuela and the western media view the episode as a gain or “win” for their side,

revolutionaries view Sackur’s questions as a typical corporate media attack and give Chávez high marks for responding credibly, even admirably.

People as always see what they want to see,

i.e. what supports their underlying assumptions.

What is also interesting is that Chávez offers an open-ended free ranging interview to the same corporate media that declares him to be a dictator,

opposed to freedom of expression and Venezuela as a place where the anti-government media has been destroyed.

Despite daily private media attacks by the nation’s biggest newspapers in Venezuela, El Universal, El Nacional, El Siglo and many more and TV giants like Globovision and now this opportunity to interview the president directly, the lies of the western media continue.

In this case, BBC attacked and as any good debate opponent should do,

Chávez counter-attacked.

Asking who “won” this debate is not relevant, if for no other reason,

there was no referee which is essential in formal debate.

For me personally, it’s more a question of what do you as a viewer learn from the debate,

if anything, about Hugo Chávez as a head of state and about Venezuela as a democracy.

– Les Blough, Editor Axis of Logic

Postscript: One comment posted by “Kiosa”, an Axis of Logic reader suggests that we compare BBC’s style in their interview of President Chávez with an Al Jazeera’s style when interviewing the PM of Kazakhstan.

We did so and the contrast is indeed remarkable.

We took Kiosa’s advice a step further and compared the Chavez interview with other interviews of heads of state.

Again, the contrasting results speak volumes about the BBC political agenda: BBC interview of former president Bill Clinton; BBC Persia’s interview of Shimon Peres. – LMB

Axis of Logic Columnist, Siv O’Neall offers this introduction to the video:

In an exclusive for BBC HARDtalk, Stephen Sackur talks to the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez who is saying:

“ojalá algún día se liberen de este ENFERMO MENTAL… que pronto veamos su CAÍDA… estamos con ustedes, los venezolanos que buscan paz y no tiranía….


“Hopefully one day they will liberate themselves from this spiritual inferno… that soon we will see its fall (of the U.S. empire)… we are with you, the Venezuelans who are seeking peace and freedom from tyranny…”

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