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'Dayside' Tosses Objectivity Aside on Chavez Coverage

Reported by Judy - September 21, 2006 -

The crew on Fox News' "Dayside," with just one more day to go before their show is history, decided Thursday (Sept. 21, 2006) to stop pretending they were journalists and just let all their right-wing tendencies hang out.

"Dayside" began its show with an over-the-top question, even for Fox News. Displayed on the screen was the question, "Lunatics or Hypocrites? Where is the logic behind the U.S. bashing at the U.N.?" The television audience was invited to email their responses to the "question."

Then co-host Juliet Huddy told the studio audience she really wanted them to get involved, too. After a piece on Iranian President Ahmajinedad's speech to the U.N. earlier this week, "Dayside" went to Hugo Chavez's appearance at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in New York, where he was speaking to people and discussing distribution of free heating oil to poor Americans.

The chyron for this segment was, "Should We Stop Buying Chavez’s Gas from Citgo Stations?”
Nothing subtle about that.

Then "Dayside" went to a discussion between Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school for diplomats that has received grants from organizations with right-wing ties, and Natali Fani, of the Civil Alliance of Latin America.

Waller depicted Chavez as a threat to U.S. security, saying he has formed alliances with Hezbollah, North Korea and Iran, and that he is buying planes from the Soviet Union and manufacturing assault weapons.

"It sounds like he’s setting up a police state," said "Dayside" co-host Mike Jerrick.

Fani tried to make the point that Chavez "actually cares about the poor people," but the audience booed her as she said he had built schools, health clinics, and libraries.

Then the "Dayside" crew read an email from a viewer who wrote that the U.S. "smells of pig droppings today."

Fani persevered, saying UNESCO has certified Venezuela as having a 0 percent illiteracy rate.
"You think that's not improvement?" she asked the hostile audience.

As Fani continued to insist that the economy in Venezuela is strong and that people are being paid a minimum wage, Huddy interrupted to demand, "When was the last time you were in Venezuela?"

"Three months ago," shot back Fani.

Fani also rebutted claims that Chavez had "smothered most of the media coverage." Most of the newspapers oppose Chavez and publish openly, she said.

As for insulting George Bush wish his statements, Fani said, the U.S. ambassador in Venezuela says insulting things about Chavez all the time.

Waller then tried to shut up Fani, complaining, "She sounds a lot like Chavez. You can’t get a word in edgewise."

"Dayside" next went to its pumped up audience, but found a man who said, "We recommend freedom of speech. That’s what he did. Whether we like it not we have to take it, because as much as it hurts us, it also helps us."

The voice of a woman could be heard in the background saying she agreed that it was a matter of freedom of speech, but Jerrick did not give her the microphone.

"I don’t think that’s our question today” Jerrick said.

Instead, he went to a man who had spoken earlier and was clearly conservative who predicted that the poor people in Venezuela will "become slaves."

But Fani reminded the audience that Chavez was democratically elected (Remember, we love democracies.) "He is there because a majority of Venezuelans put him there and he’s going to win Dec. 3 because a majority of Venezuelans still respect him," she said.

Waller tried to get the last word, claiming Chavez's opponent may be assassinated and that it's a "very dangerous situation down there for people who oppose the regime."

Fani insisted that was not true. "Are you kidding me?" she asked incredulously.

Displaying an inflammatory question, stirring up the audience, asking hostile questions -- the "Dayside" crew did it's best Thursday to stir up hostile passions in its viewers. After a day like this, it's not a show I'm going to miss after Friday.