Opting to include a photo to supplement the reporting by Michael Shear and Cecilia Kang in their April 14 front-pager "Obama Lifts Broad Set of Sanctions Against Cuba", Washington Post editors made a caption choice that served to skew the story presentation in a way favorable to those who argue for lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
"The president's new policies lift limits on Americans sending money to their relatives in struggling Cuba," reads the Post caption below a photograph by AP's Javier Galeano (shown above at right). In the photo, a man and woman are shown pushing a beat-up old car down the street.
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. “With today's announcement,” Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, “President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual.” Kofman then declared: “It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is.”
Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged “some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel,” but she dismissed those opponents as “a dwindling number.” She emphasized the view Obama came up short: “President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.” Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: “For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.”
For a network that calmly bowed to the "advantages" of totalitarianism in Cuba's natural-disaster preparations, it was a bit shocking to hear National Public Radio anchor Melissa Block pressing a leftist congressman on Tuesday's All Things Considered about Cuban repression.
Employing what should be the standard practice of presenting the opponent's position, in this case on normalizing relations with Cuba and the Castro brothers. She found that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, touring Cuba with the Congressional Black Caucus, may be a "Democrat" but he celebrates a "diversity" of government styles, including lock-step communism:
BLOCK: Well, congressman, you well know that supporters of current Cuba policy -- supporters of the embargo -- say that if you lift sanctions you are going to just aid and justify a repressive regime. You're going to kill any hope of democracy. Now that regime will just use more resources to become more oppressive than it already is.
CLEAVER: Well, the world operates at its best when there is diversity. Every nation does not need to be like the United States. And frankly we already have diplomatic ties to repressive nations. And frankly if there is repression in Cuba, we didn't see it. We mingled with Cuban people. I preached at an Episcopal Church, Sunday, where we were told that there was no freedom of religion, which is not true.
Ever notice the media love to report stories about people fighting the power, unless, of course, the power happens to be something the media favor?
A March 31 New York Times article about Cuba's Havana Biennial art festival highlighted several artists whose political statements were in line with the anti-American, communist outlook of the island's regime, while ignoring prominent Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, who risked her freedom to protest government oppression.
During an open mic session at the festival, the award-winning Generacion Y blogger criticized Cuban policy and the lack of free expression. However, the Times did not mention her pro-free speech performance art or even cover it in a separate piece. Instead, most of the artists the paper described railed against the usual evils, such as capitalism, America and the bourgeoisie.
Afterwards, the government issued a condemnation that singled out Sanchez for “staging a provocation against the Cuban Revolution.” Fortunately, on Wednesday, Reuters reported the controversy:
New numbers are out about President Obama's performance and they show that, while most Americans favor the majority of actions he has taken, two of his more controversial decisions are highly unpopular. One of the disputed actions, the closing of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has long been a high-profile issue the media can hardly dodge. But the other, reversing the “Mexico City” policy, has gotten little news coverage. It will be interesting to watch whether they finally report on Mexico City, or even note that Obama has made any unpopular moves.
The mainstream media is still head over heels for our new commander in chief, and he still has honeymoon popularity with the public. But according to a Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup Poll telephone survey of 1,000 adults, only 35 percent of Americans approved of Obama's decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, a ban on U.S. funding of overseas family planning groups that promote abortion.
The blog post by Havana-based Portia Siegelbaum began by insisting that:
Expectations are almost as high among Cubans as they are among Americans as the countdown to the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama speeds up.
Of course, far-left rhetoric notwithstanding, the United States is a republic with two major parties and a healthy tradition of freedom of speech and press, whereas Cuba is a totalitarian throwback to the Soviet era.
Yet Siegelbaum failed to note that President Raul Castro is a dictator unanswerable to the call of change from his people.
What's more, the CBS reporter practically laid the entire blame for Cuba's poor economy not on the failures of Communism and dictatorship but the long-standing U.S. embargo:
While Time's Tim Padgett insists that at its 50-year anniversary the Castro Revolution in Cuba "deserves its due," Huber Matos might agree, but for entirely different reasons. After all, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
Matos, who fought alongside the brothers Castro to overthrow Fulgencio Batista, has long felt that the Castros betrayed the Cuban people by imposing a dictatorship, not restoring a democracy as they led him and other non-Communist revolutionaries to believe.
The fiftieth anniversary of Fidel Castro’s Iron Curtain around Cuba may suggest that in some dark corners of the world, Soviet-style communism still lives. But it also demonstrates that antique "peaceful coexistence" bias is as persistent as the Castro brothers. Time magazine is still demonstrating the tired tendency of moral equivalence, treating the free world and the miniaturized communist world as bickering kids who should hang up their boxing gloves. Tim Padgett wrote:
The Cuban revolution deserves its due: it overthrew the putrid Batista regime and showed the U.S. that its worst impulses could be thwarted. But after 50 years, maybe it's time for both sides to move toward (yes) a resolution.
How are America’s "worst impulses" proven to be morally exceeded by Castro’s reign of poverty and oppression? How is Batista "putrid" and Castro so obviously superior? Can’t both be regrettable dictators? But Time finds no moral equivalence there. Padgett insisted it’s time for grown-ups to take over the diplomacy, and Obama is just in time. Dictatorship is to be treated with light humor:
Filing his January 1 story from Santiago, Cuba, Washington Post foreign service staffer William Booth paid homage to the 50-year mark of the Castro revolution, pinning blame on "mostly hostile U.S. presidents" and a "decades-long trade and travel embargo" for the big 5-0 being celebrated as a "low-key event that was far removed from the triumphant displays and mass rallies of [Cuba's] socialist glory days."
Booth's 14-paragraph article failed to label either ailing despot Fidel nor ruling substitute despot Raul Castro as dictators, although the man they deposed in 1959, Fulgencio Batista, was tagged as a "despised dictator."
What's more, the word "revolution" to describe the Castro regime a total of seven times in the story, four of them by Booth himself, the other three in quotes from Castro. At no point did Booth quote a Cuban dissident or any Castro opponent, although he made efforts to paint the younger Castro brother as something of a reformer:
Fidel will someday disappear, but MSM nostalgia for the Cuban revolution is forever. Good Morning America devoted a segment today to celebrations in Havana marking the 50th anniversary of Castro's dictatorship. The thrust of Jim Avila's report was that, yeah, there are those who "complain" about that oppression stuff, but the key is that Cuba is free from los Yanquis!
JIM AVILA: It is Raul Castro who now runs the country, with Fidel incapacitated. He brought the celebration back to where in 1959, he, Fidel and Che Guevara came out of the Sierra Maestra mountains to overthrow the American-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista.
Cut to clip of Batista and Pres. Nixon exchanging smiles and a handshake. Funny: Avila referred to Batista as a "dictator", but never used that term for the Castro boys.
AVILA: That was ten American presidents ago. And while many Cubans complain about economic conditions and oppression, most still take pride in their independence.
It wasn’t merely a poorly-chosen headline stating, “Two top players depart Cuba in a bid to play in US." The whitewash was mirrored in the December 29 article, and the bias wasn’t confined to careful language manipulation. AFP also minimized the escape by framing it as a simple desire to get rich quick in America with a fat Major League Baseball contract. There was no mention of the harsh realities of Cuban life or the possibility that maybe they also wanted more than six ounces of chicken or ten eggs a month to eat (all emphasis mine, image of Yadel Marti via AFP):
Cuban pitcher Yadel Marti and outfielder Yasser Gomez have departed their Communist island homeland in a bid to launch Major League Baseball careers, ESPN reported on Monday on its website. (…) Players who become available through such nations as the Dominican Republic are free agents and available to the highest bidder among the 30 North American clubs rather than having their rights assigned in a draft like US collegians.
Associated Press writer Will Weissert apparently thought that the Communist government in Cuba wasn't doing a good enough job of white washing and glorifying Fidel Castro's legacy and decided to try his hand at it. Thus he wrote a little piece describing the humble hut that Castro used as a head quarters during his Communist rebellion:
Before he was Cuba's unchallenged "Maximum Leader," Fidel Castro was a guerrilla warrior who slept in a hut made of sticks and palm leafs, with a hole-in-the-ground outhouse at the bottom of a hill.
Q Can you give us an update on Elian Gonzalez, the boy rescued off the coast of Florida in 1999, then returned to Cuba over the protests of his U.S. relatives?--Mark Larsen, Calhoun, Ga.
A Elian, 15, has been well taken care of by Fidel Castro. His dad was rewarded with a seat in Cuba's national assembly, and the family was given a spacious home. Says Ann Louise Bardach, whose Without Fidel will be published next spring: "Fidel has been known to forget the birthdays of his own children, but never Elian's."
Heartwarming, isn't it? That Fidel is such a sweetheart. So massive is his affection for the young man that he, with the complicity of the U.S. government, forced the terrified boy back to Cuba. Just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Cubans:
are preoccupied with staying afloat in a sclerotic economy where basics like toilet paper often disappear from store shelves and most people eat meat only a few times each month.
Politico announced a new partnership with Reuters on Monday that will provide political, government and business news from both organizations to newspapers across the United States.
In September, Politico launched the Politico Network, a partnership whereby member publications could run Politico content in print or online, while sharing in the profits from online advertisements.
Now, members of the Politico Network—which includes 60 newspapers and 40 broadcast outlets—will be able to run a broad selection of Reuters’ wire copy for free, while similarly sharing in the revenue from online advertising that’s sold by Politico.
And Reuters will distribute Politico stories worldwide through the news organization’s subscription-based wire service.
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Who would you think is more concerned with the best interest of the United States? Americans? Or those in other countries?
If you chose the latter, then you are likely a liberal. You are also, apparently, like many other countries in the world. Countries that will go from respecting the authority of this nation, to snickering behind our backs at the possibility of electing a President who thinks the world is his constituency, and not his native country.
The media is unconsciously making this obvious, by revealing what may be a major reason we should be concerned about the possibility of the phrase ‘President Barack Obama.’
The world is salivating at the prospect of appeasement, and that will be Obama’s number one foreign policy platform.
If these allegations are true, the danger isn't their potential to gather secrets. Instead, it's their ability to quietly shape opinion and influence public policy on Cuba through powerful academic groups, frequent media statements and slanted analyses as they maneuver within elite academic-think tank circles--and even brief government agencies and the military.
CNN, following the same vein as the Associated Press, highlighted how Elian Gonzalez is now a member of Cuba’s Young Communist League. Correspondent Shasta Darlington reported on Monday’s "American Morning" that the newly-minted communist "vowed he would always follow the examples of Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, Cuba's new president." She also acknowledged unquestioningly Fidel Castro’s "personal relationship" with the boy.
Darlington, reporting live from Havana, introduced her report by announcing that Elian took his "first step that, for a select few, lead to a bright political future in Cuba." She then gave a short summary of the custody dispute over the child eight years ago, during which she stated that "Fidel Castro himself led the ideological battle to bring Gonzalez back to Cuba and his father."
Leave it to the mainstream media to highlight the latest "accomplishment" of the Castros’ oppressive regime.
One of Yahoo.com’s front page news items Monday morning linked to a story from the Associated Press about Elian Gonzalez’s entrance into Cuba’s Young Communist Union. The short uncredited story put the news this way:
The Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle eight years ago has joined Cuba's Young Communist Union.
Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde quotes Elian Gonzalez as saying he will never let down ex-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro, who succeeded Fidel earlier this year.
Now that Jim Johnson has quit Barack Obama's vice-presidential candidate selection team, maybe somebody, anybody, in the media, instead of making "He's havng a bad day" excuses, might focus on the questionable judgment of Barack Obama in having Eric Holder serve on that team.
Besides his already-known role in facilitating the Clinton pardons, including that of fugitive billionaire financier March Rich, there's the matter of former Clinton Administration Deputy Attorney General Holder's involvement in the Elian Gonzalez case in 2000.
As the April 23, 2000 edition of the Media Research Center's CyberAlert noted at the time, Andrew Napolitano of Fox News charged that the early-Saturday seizure of the then 6 year-old Gonzalez flagrantly disobeyed a ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In response to a question from Fox News anchor Jeff Asman, Napolitano said the following (bolds are mine throughout this post):
CBS's "Early Show" gave a fairly glowing report from the May Day celebration in Havana, Cuba, May 1, on changes Cuban President Raúl Castro has made in the country. Reporter Elizabeth Palmer called the leader's brother, Fidel Castro, a "revolutionary hero."
Fidel Castro handed provisional power to Raúl Castro, his younger brother, in July 2006. Raúl Castro officially took over the presidency in February 2008 after Fidel Castro fell ill.
Anchor Russ Mitchell said the May Day celebrations in Cuba signaled a "new era" for the country, and Palmer touted reforms like "cell phones," "text-messaging," opening of "resort hotels" to Cuban citizens and "shiny new Chinese buses."
International journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is declaring March 12 "Online Free Expression Day" to raise awareness to government repression of Web-based journalism in over 20 countries throughout the world.
RSF now lists 15 countries as "Internet enemies" (such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea) and 11 other nations in a less-severe but nonetheless troubling designation as "countries under watch" (emphasis mine):
On Thursday's The Situation Room on CNN, Time magazine's managing editor, Richard Stengel, suggested that the 1961 Bay of Pigs attempt to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro should not have been planned, as he assigned some of the blame for the fiasco to President Eisenhower for planning it in the first place. During a discussion of the importance of experience for a new President, Stengel contended: "John Kennedy, when he was first elected, very inexperienced President, got us into the Bay of Pigs. Terrible mistake. But who planned the Bay of Pigs? Dwight Eisenhower." (Transcript follows)
At NewsBusters we've been noticing the reticence the media are showing in characterizing the Castro Brothers regime in Cuba as a Communist dictatorship. Today's Miami Herald came a bit closer with its February 26 article ("Old-style socialist takes the No. 2 job in Cuba"), although it painted Raul Castro's deputy as a "devout socialist" and results-oriented problem-solver.
Of course, there are "devout socialist" politicians in numerous countries the world over who abide by the results of free and fair elections and respect the rule of law, two things sorely lacking in Cuba.
No matter, the Herald's Frances Robles seemed more interested in painting Raul Castro's number two as though he were Che Guevara with a hearing aid (emphasis mine):
In a report yesterday from Cuba, Anita Snow of the Associated Press, with the help of the headline writers at ABC, seemed intent on telling any Yanqui imperialists or hard-liners in Miami's Little Havana who might have any ideas of doing something rash during the transition of power from Fidel Castro to his brother Raul to forget about trying anything (HT Rush Limbaugh; story #4 at link; link will be available until next Monday):
Below the page break I've included screen grabs taken around 3:50 p.m. today for top stories at Newsweek.com, one having to do with John McCain and how his denial of an affair with Vicki Iseman "invited a game of catch me if you can," the second about the rise of a Raul Castro, a dictator who "promises change."
The latter, flashing a peace sign, looks somewhat avuncular. McCain, however appears to bear a scowl on his face in a photo shot apparently aboard a campaign airplane.
Oddly enough, the "old guard" is still labeled "revolutionary" twice in the story by Miguel Bustillo and Carol J. Williams:
MIAMI -- Cuba's parliament signaled Sunday that the status quo of a stunted state-run economy and strained relations with the United States will persist for now as it named Raul Castro to replace his ailing brother, Fidel, as president and chose another aging revolutionary as the nation's No. 2 leader.
So much for Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia waxing poetic about the tech-savvy younger generation of Communists in Cuba. "Party Elders Triumph in Cuba," as Raul Castro has been formally named the new dictator, a February 25 Post headline informs readers. Party elders?! That's language suitable for a story about the role of superdelegates in the presidential nomination process for the Democratic Party, not when describing window-dressing "elections" in one-party Communist dictatorships.
Roig-Franzia opened his article with a lament that a "younger generation" of Communists has been "bypassed" by the Geritol crowd:
HAVANA, Feb. 24 -- Cuba's revolutionary old guard consolidated its hold on power Sunday when the National Assembly bypassed a younger generation of politicians and named Fidel Castro's brother, Raúl, president and a hard-line communist first vice president.