It Might Boost Their Cred

After picking rhetorical fights with the monarchs of Spain and Saudi Arabia, Hugo Chavez apparently has more sparring energy to expend. He called out CNN for “instigating his murder,” seizing on an error on a recent broadcast as a signal to Venezuelan assassins:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Wednesday CNN may have been instigating his murder when the U.S. TV network showed a photograph of him with a label underneath that read “Who killed him?”
The caption appeared to be a production mistake — confusing a Chavez news item with one on the death of a football star. The anchor said “take the image down” when he realized.
But Chavez called for a probe in an interview on state television, where he repeatedly reviewed a tape of the broadcast, questioning why the unconnected photograph and wording were left on screen for several seconds.
“I want the state prosecutor to look into bringing a suit against CNN for instigating murder in Venezuela,” he said. “… undoubtedly it is part of the psychological warfare.”

The subtext of this accusation can be found in the faltering approval ratings for his latest referendum for dictatorship. Venezuelans have started to sour on Chavez’ plan for socialism and personal rule. Polling shows that his latest constitutional changes will fail in this weekend’s plebiscite — which means that Chavez needs to hit the anti-American paranoia well yet again.
CNN, meanwhile, has to be amused by the allegations. Normally they get accused of coddling dictators like Chavez. Their former VP Eason Jordan admitted in 2003 that he cooked reporting on Saddam Hussein in order to keep CNN’s offices open in Baghdad. A little dictatorial paranoia might do wonders for CNN’s credibility back home.