In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda: Dan Rather has a disturbing obsession with death, the BBC honors Queen Elizabeth, and "bullets of treachery" explain the massacre in Syria. We begin in Caracas.
Dan Rather, Necrophiliac
This weekend, Dan Rather felt the wrath of the Venezuelan government after reporting that President Hugo Chavez's metastatic cancer has "entered the end stage," citing an anonymous but "highly respected source close to Chavez." In retaliation, Venezuela's information ministry distributed a scathing and, kind of kinky, rebuttal to Rather, accusing him of having "morbid wet dreams of President Chavez's failing health."
"That a serious, veteran, investigative journalist, such as Dan Rather, would indulge in the necrophiliac story-telling about the Venezuelan President is truly disappointing," wrote Chavez ally Eva Golinger in column titled "Shame on You, Dan Rather." "Mr. Rather appears to have left his journalist ethics and principles behind, and has chosen – at least in this case – to be a pawn of yellow journalism."
Clearly Rather's report, which said Chavez has "more than a couple of months at most" to live, angered the regime and, according to Foreign Policy's Francisco Toro, it also ignited a flurry of death rumors in Caracas. Still, calling Rather a death fetishist is a sort of an odd way to attack his credibility. And we would prefer if the ministry could refrain from ever again using "wet dream" and "Dan Rather" in the same breath.
God Save the BBC
For the non-Anglophiles out there, this past weekend marked Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, celebrating her 60th year on the throne. For the state-financed BBC, it basically just had to sit back and extol the wonders of powerless monarchy and British supremacy, but apparently it didn't go very well. "[The BBC] drew stinging criticism during the Thames pageant with viewers attacking its 'inane' commentary, camera angles and sound quality," reports The Telegraph's Gordon Rayner:
More than a million people lined the Thames to pay tribute to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. But the BBC struggled to cope with technical problems caused by the bad weather.
Camera angles and sound quality were also said to have been not up to scratch while a mistaken description of the Queen as "HRH" - rather than "Her Majesty" - also drew flak ... Tory MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson, also joined the voices condemning the BBC's jubilee reporting.
Maybe next time, BBC. It's only 60-plus years away.
"Bullets of Treachery"
This weekend, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad repeated his favorite talking point of the year: Syria is facing a "foreign conspiracy" by "terrorists." Normally that doesn't make news but it did this weekend because it followed the horrific Houla Massacre in which 100 people, mostly women and children, were killed. "We remember brothers of ours who should have been with us under the roof of this parliament taking part in this great national workshop, but the bullets of treachery prevented them from doing so," he said piously. Given the detailed condemnation of Syria in the UN's report on the massacre, and the 9,000 other who've died in the conflict, it's pretty difficult to stomach Assad's PR machine. For a palate cleanser, Reuters interviews Syrians watching the televised address from home: