POTUS winks

I often listen to the POTUS channel on XM satellite radio. It is quite good, at least when it sticks to its original theme, the US presidential elections of 2008, and its subsequently broader theme of “Politics of the United States” since the said elections. However, yesterday I was moved to write a letter:

On July 28, during the Morning Briefing segment on the day’s birthdays, Tim Farley referred to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s birthday. He said that Chavez was “wink, wink elected in 1998.”

This remark shows considerable ignorance of Venezuelan politics. Even those who are not fans of President Chavez must recognize that Chavez became president in a fully democratic election in 1998, under the rules of that country’s uninterrupted string of elections dating back to 1958. One might argue about the democratic character of the Venezuelan regime in the intervening decade, in which Chavez or his party has won several elections, and even accepted defeat in one key referendum, but during which civil liberties have been seriously eroded. Nonetheless, Chavez was elected, not “wink, wink elected.”

This phrasing by Mr. Farely is beneath the dignity of a usually unbiased and professional program like POTUS. If I want coverage that caters to the ideological biases of certain sectors of American political opinion, I will tune to Fox News.

–Matthew Shugart
Professor of Political Science
University of California, San Diego

(Institutional affiliation noted for identification purposes only, of course.)

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