That’s a pretty happy headline you’ve got there, AP. I’d hate to see it collide with the truth.

(AP) Venezuela’s oldest private television station was pushed off the air as President Hugo Chavez’s government replaced the popular opposition-aligned network with a new state-funded channel on Monday.

Radio Caracas Television shut down just before midnight Sunday as its broadcast license expired and soldiers took control of the station’s transmitters. Chavez refused to renew its license, accusing the channel of “subversive” activities.

The new channel, TVES, launched its transmissions with artists singing pro-Chavez music, then carried an exercise program and a talk show, interspersed with government ads proclaiming, “Now Venezuela belongs to everyone.”

Thousands of government supporters reveled in the streets as they watched the changeover on large TV screens, seeing RCTV’s signal go black and then be replaced by a TVES logo featuring Venezuela’s national colors. Others launched fireworks and danced to the classic salsa tune “Todo tiene su final” _ “Everything Has Its End.”

The AP spends those four graphs and the headline setting this up as a good-news story: New TV station, revelers and fireworkds, fun fun fun.

What really happened is that Chavez crushed dissent. AP gets around to that in graph 5 and delivers perfunctory tales of sadness. But that lead! Chavez shut down a TV station with jackboots and replaced it with a state-run mouthpiece. Imagine if the left’s favorite villain, George W. ChimpyMcHitlerBurton, did that.

Venezuela, which Chavez now rules by decree, has lost its main voice of opposition to the government. That voice has been replaced by a giant sock puppet that rests on the long arm of Hugo Chavez. Venezuela is rapidly turning into Cuba, but with oil. If you don’t believe me, ask the students Chavez is having his troops shoot at.

Chavez has already set his sites on another TV station for “inciting threats on his life” by criticizing him. In other words, for daring to be part of a free press. He’s also inventing a conspiracy theory about CNN being out to get him, even while he nationalizes oil and other industries and arms the people of Venezuela as militias.

And it’s against all of this iron fisted action that AP heads its story “Chavez Launches New Venezuela TV Station” and opens with four graphs that would have made Leni Reifenstahl proud in an earlier era.

The reader who sent the link asks “When will the AP be totally discredited?”

Not soon enough.