'Sun' Rise, 'Sun' Set

Conservative Paper Sings to the Masses

Giordano speculated that the civilian deaths had been falsely blamed on Chávez, and noted that the whole thing smacked of CIA efforts to destabilize Chile in the 1970s. His bottom line on Saturday: "A twice democratically elected government has been deposed by a military junta that has installed an illegitimate, unelected president."

Giordano, a dogged critic of the Times, was vindicated the next day when an international outcry led to Chávez's reinstatement and a virtual front-page correction in the Times. For the April 14 edition, Ginger Thompson joined Forero in Caracas, where they interviewed Venezuelans who rejected what they called the, um, coup. In a sidebar, Forero clung to the now-fading claim that Chávez cronies had fired on civilians.

In the same edition, Tim Weiner delivered a Week in Review piece placing the ouster as one in a long line of "Latin American coups tacitly encouraged or covertly supported by the United States." Weiner named several reasons Bush might have wanted Chávez out, most notably the politics of oil. In Latin America, he wrote, the U.S. has long "supported authoritarian regimes . . . in defense of its economic and political interests."

Enter The Washington Post's Scott Wilson, who reported on April 14 that the coup had not been spontaneous, but the work of dissident military officers who said they had been planning it for months and had solicited the approval of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

On April 15, Times reporters used the word "coup" unapologetically for the first time. Better late than never, but too bad they couldn't see it in the first place.

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