Could CBS Havana Bureau Be In the Works?

TVNewser is reporting that CBS News executives are in Cuba. While the Tiffany network won't say what for, speculation is there may be negotiations with the Castro government for a full-time Havana bureau for the network.:

A TVNewser tipster tells us, and a CBS News spokesperson confirms, that CBS News & Sports President Sean McManus and Evening News EP Rick Kaplan are in Cuba. The spokesperson could not tell TVNewser the mission of the trip. However, Kaplan has met with Cuban president Fidel Castro on past occasions, dating back to 1978.>More: An emailer adds, "...being a past insider at CBS News I can tell you that this trip to Cuba is most likely an effort to open the first fully functional U.S. News bureau in Cuba.">More, More: Other emailers have written about CNN's Cuba operations including, "CNN has had a fully functional bureau in Havana since March 1997. So if CBS lands a bureau there, it'd be more than 10 years late."

Speaking of CNN, NewsBusters senior editor and MRC research director Rich Noyes weighed it in the balance and found it wanting. Here are some findings from the five-year mark in 2002:

  • CNN gave spokesmen for the communist regime a major advantage, broadcasting sound bites from Fidel Castro and his spokesmen six times more frequently than non-communist groups such as Catholic church leaders and peaceful dissidents.
  • CNN’s stories included six times as many sound bites from everyday Cubans who voiced agreement with Castro and supported his policies than quotes from Cuban citizens disagreeing with the government. This left American audiences with the impression that Castro’s communist government is overwhelmingly popular among the Cuban public.
  • CNN provided very little coverage of Cuba’s dissidents, who were the focus of only seven of the 212 Cuba stories broadcast during the past five years, or about three percent of CNN’s total coverage. That’s fewer than half as many stories as CNN produced in just the first three months of 2002 about alleged human rights abuses by the United States against prisoners held at its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • CNN also practically ignored Cuba’s lack of democracy, a topic which was featured in only four stories (or just under two percent). One of those reports, in January 1998, consisted of Lucia Newman trumpeting Cuba’s rigged election as superior to those in the U.S. because they have “no dubious campaign spending” and “no mud slinging.”
  • Much of CNN’s coverage of Cuba focused on the tiniest slices of everyday life, which created the sense that Cuba was basically a normal country, not one in the grip of a dictatorship’s secret security apparatus. Instead of focusing on the regime’s human rights abuses, CNN showed Cubans waiting for ice cream cones, profiled a promising young ballerina, and interviewed a 94-year-old guitar player.
  • On CNN, Castro was treated more as a celebrity than a tyrant. Rather than revealing the dirty secrets of his dictatorship to the world, CNN reported on Castro’s 73rd birthday celebrations and, in February 2000, featured the dictator’s office in the “Cool Digs” segment of CNN’s Newsstand.
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters