Robertson lies about his Chavez comments; claims he “didn't say 'assassination' ”

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Responding on the August 24 broadcast of The 700 Club to the outcry over his August 22 comments calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson falsely denied that he used the word “assassination” and claimed that he was “misinterpreted” by the Associated Press, which first reported the story following Media Matters for America's posting of the transcript and video clip of his comments. Robertson claimed that what he had said on August 22 was that the U.S. should “take him [Chavez] out,” adding that “there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him.” In fact, Robertson did use the word “assassination” in the August 22 broadcast and said, "[I]f he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

Robertson issued his denial during an interview with outspoken Chavez critic Thor Halvorssen* on the August 24 broadcast of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club:

HALVORSSEN: Now, I think that it's very important to also note your comments were about assassination. The person -- I think that alternative is lowering to his level.

ROBERTSON: Wait a minute, I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should, quote, “take him out,” and “take him out” can be a number of things including kidnapping. There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.

HALVORSSEN: Well, he in fact tried to use that. Chavez, in 1992, attempted to assassinate the democratically elected President Carlos Andrés Pérez and his family and he failed, and for that he went to jail. The person who began this, who started the concept of assassination for political reasons, was in fact Hugo Chavez, and his foreign minister is a former guerrilla terrorist. They basically have no standing to criticize anyone who made remarks that like -- you know, that were misinterpreted like the ones you made.

In fact, Robertson explicitly called for Chavez's assassination on the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Media Matters originally incorrectly identified Thor Halvorssen as a former ambassador-at-large for the Republic of Venezuela. Mr. Halvorssen has never served as ambassador-at-large for Venezuela. Mr. Halvorssen works in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties. He is the former executive director and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and currently serves as president of the Human Rights Foundation. Media Matters regrets the error.