Reuters Calls Socialist Dictator Chavez a 'Folksy President'

Folksy can accurately describe many a politician, foreign or domestic. But a Fidel Castro-loving, Bush-hating, suppresser of free speech who has carte blanche to rule by decree? If you ask Reuters, well, yes. (h/t Taranto's November 15 Best of the Web).

The November 13 article in question by writer Enrique Andres Pretel dealt with how Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is demanding an apology from Spain's King Juan Carlos. The Spanish monarch snapped at Chavez that he should "just shut up," when the latter was railing about former conservative Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "fascist." Chavez received a rebuke, albeit less pointed, from the current prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a Socialist.

Chavez has a history of impolitic moments on the international stage, such as last year when he called President Bush "the devil" in a speech before the United Nations.

All the same, Reuters writer Pretel found Chavez to be a folksy, funny guy:

On Tuesday, he said the king's "arrogance" exposed that colonial attitudes toward South America have not died out.

But the folksy president also showed he had a sense of humor over the flap.

When a reporter asked him a series of questions about the raft of constitutional changes expected to be passed in next month's plebiscite, he joked: "Why don't you shut up?"

Nowhere in his article did Pretel mention that Chavez has shut up reporters, such as when he shut down opposition television network RCTV earlier this year.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has tracked Chavez's war on freedom of the press. You can find their reporting on the matter here.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.