On the March 19 edition of "The View," Barbara Walters returned from Venezuela where she conducted a puffy interview with President Hugo Chavez.
Walters insisted that "he is not crazy" and "he does not hate the United States" but "hates George Bush." The veteran ABC journalist, however, felt the discount oil Chavez provided to Hurricane Katrina victims is "a good thing to do."
Yet in 2001, ABC described American aid to the Afghan poor as merely "propaganda."
Although Barbara said he is a socialist and mentioned in passing that "he’s got a lot of things that are not so wonderful," there was not even a murmur about Chavez’s assault on the free press. Rosie O’Donnell, who rants against the PATRIOT Act’s alleged assault on civil liberties, did not bother to raise that concern. They even displayed some love for the Venezuelan dictator when Rosie coddled a talking Hugo Chavez doll. Ironically, on the next subject on patriotism, Rosie and Joy exclaimed that dissent is patriotic. The transcript is below.
ROSIE O’DONNELL: Ok. We're back. So tell us, Barbara, tell us about Mr. Chavez.
BARBARA WALTERS: Oh, so here we are Caracas. Well, just before we went on, I said-- he drinks 26 cups of coffee and you said.
O’DONNELL: Oy, that's a lot of coffee.
WALTERS: And people say–
O’DONNELL: People say he's crazy right.
WALTERS: He is not crazy.
BEHAR: He’s not crazy we watched the interview.
WALTERS: He is a very sane man. He does not hate the United States. He does hate George Bush, and he's very vocal about it. He hates him for the Iraq war, he hates him for a lot of criticisms and he's not afraid of ranting and raving. OK
JOY BEHAR: In case– and people don't know, they are the fourth largest oil producers in the world, Venezuela. That's what makes them so important.
WALTERS: And also they have given–we are their biggest customer, we're their biggest trading customer, or something like that, and also remember that they own Citgo here and they gave reduced priced oil to Katrina, to people in who needed it in the eastern --
BEHAR: Poor people, hundreds of thousand of people.
WALTERS: So it’s good PR, but it’s also, you know, a good thing to do. I'm hardly praising him. He wants to be a president forever. He’s got a lot of things that are not quite so wonderful.
BEHAR: He also had a failed military coup first and then he was elected correctly, so I know my stuff.
WALTERS: Well, maybe. You know, he is a socialist. He does want to have a socialistic Latin America. He thinks capitalism is the scourge–scrooge, scorge, scourge of the world?
BEHAR: Scourge, scourge.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK: I'm surprised he's so against George Bush in terms of business. I mean, George Bush negotiated the free trade agreement which brought in I think a record of like $320 billion to their economy.
WALTERS: That's not what he's against . He feels that he's primarily against the Iraq war. He feels that he's an imperialist. As we talked about it, you know, we are one of their biggest trading partners and one of their biggest partners in oil, so one would say we should be friends.
HASSELBECK: I think you’d want to make nice.
WALTERS: He says in the next election if there's a president with whom he does not have this kind of feeling about Iraq and imperialism and invasion, that he thinks, as you’re saying, that we can be friends. We'll see.
WALTERS: Then they sell these dolls, right?
O’DONNELL: That’s for me.
WALTERS: So this is the way Hugo Chavez usually dresses in red. That's his symbolic couple, couple, color. We make a good couple. No we don’t.
WALTERS: Color. So, you have to press his back, Rosie and he'll talk to you.
O’DONNELL: We’ll press his back. Hello, Hugo.
HASSELBECK: What will he say?
WALTERS: The problem is he never shuts up.
[Doll speaking in Spanish]
HASSELBECK: That’s exciting.
O’DONNELL: All right.
BEHAR: The main thing, the main thing is don't have him as a co-host.
O’DONNELL: Well, we have the translation. Would you hold that for me? It says I came here to do everything humanly possible to help "The View." "The View" is the best show on television. Please watch "The View." Yo quiero el viewo.
O’DONNELL: I don't know. I'm not fluent. I’m not fluent.
WALTERS: And he's still talking.