Nothing says "idealistic" like brutally suppressing freedom and imprisoning courageous advocates of democracy. At least in the view of CBS News, apparently.
At 7:21 a.m. EDT on this morning's "Early Show," CBS's Kelly Cobiella reported from Havana on the occasion of Cuba's national day. Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked Cobiella about the prospects for change.
CBS "EARLY SHOW" CO-ANCHOR MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: There's no question that Fidel and [his brother] Raul are different types of leaders. I'm sure we'll see it when he speaks later. He doesn't have Fidel's charisma and he seems a little bit more open to change. As he solidifies his power, what kind of changes do you think Cubans can expect to see?
That's when Cobiella went into Fidel-fan mode . . .
The AP did a fine job for Cuba's ministry of propaganda the other day by highlighting the 8 Americans who broke U.S. law and traveled to Cuba to attend a medical school, free of charge to the students. Castro offered this free medical training as a propaganda tool to create good PR for his oppressive regime and the AP is more than willing to help him advertise it. In the same story, they also gave free advertising for the newest Michael Moore leftsploitation flick, "Sicko." So we get a double whammy of leftist agitprop in one story.
In a story filled with kind words to Cuba's murderous dictator of 45 years, the AP finds not one line to waste on any such thing as his political gulags, the many thousands who have precipitously fled his country or the many thousands who have died at his hands since his successful Marxist coup overtook the island nation.
Things go wrong right from the start of the New York Times' obituary for Vilma Espin, "Cuba's unofficial first lady" -- and Cuban Communist Party leader by reporter Anthony DePalma (pictured at right).
"Vilma Espin, an idealistic socialite who fought alongside Fidel and Raul Castro in the mountains of Cuba and later, as Raul Castro’s wife, became a prominent advocate of women’s rightsand a powerful member of the Cuban Communist Party, died Monday in Havana." Aren't those mutually exclusive terms? How in the world can a Communist leader be a credible advocate for anyone's rights?
The Washington Post's obituary pages are never immune from bias, particularly when a Communist goes on to his or her eternal reward. The passing of the "first lady" of Cuba, Fidel Castro's sister in law Vilma Espin de Castro, is no exception. The bias began even before the lede with a headline that described the dead Communist as a "politician" who "empowered women in Cuba."
It wasn't until the 17th out of the 23-paragraph obit that Post staffer Adam Bernstein noted Raul Castro's late wife"was reportedly ruthless when it came to ordering the killing of suspected informers."
Instead, Bernstein chose to view Espin "as a champion of women's rights" being "the first woman elected to full membership on the Cuban Communist Party's Politburo." Something tells me she wasn't a champion of, oh, I dunno, the right to private property, the right of free speech, the right to free and fair elections, or the right to travel freely outside of Cuba. Bernstein doesn't mention it, but other news accounts make clear she was for the right to have an abortion, the quintessential "woman's right" to many in the mainstream media.
In yet another example of either Castro-philia or ill-informed gullibility by a member of the press, this time from CNN's Larry King, who fell for the propaganda of Hollywood, leftists and Fidel Castro who portray the oppressive Communist dictator in the media as a Communist--uh, strike that--socialist Sheriff Andy Taylor, who is so beloved by his “constituents,” that he is never challenged and doesn't need to take basic security precautions.
On a June 14 encore of a Glenn Beck show which originally aired May 17, the “Larry King Live” host responded to Beck's question which asked who King wished he could have interviewed. King answered Pope Jon Paul II and Fidel Castro. King didn't seem to want to interview Castro to discuss the brutal hold that he maintained on the island, now supposedly passed on to his brother Raul, or his relationship with Hugo Chavez, another civil rights-crushing dictator, but because he's so popular and, apparently, doesn't need bodyguards (from CNN transcript, bold mine):
KING: And the guy I`d like to do is Castro, because he fascinates me. BECK: Better hurry on that one.
KING: I know. When you -- we`re getting close. When you can run a country for more years than anybody ever ran a country in this century, the 20th century until now, you`ve got to -- there`s got to -- somebody likes him.
Michael Moore has teamed up with former Al Gore lawyer David Boies to defend himself from a Treasury Department investigation into a trip he took to Cuba for a movie. The trip was not authorized by the U.S. government and Moore seems to think that despite this, he should be let off the hook since he's obviously being investigated for political reasons:
Michael Moore's attorney said
Monday that the filmmaker's criticism of the Bush administration may
have prompted a federal investigation into his trip to Cuba for the
upcoming health-care documentary, "Sicko."
On Wednesday’s "Situation Room," liberal anchor Jack Cafferty argued that, perhaps, it's President Bush, not Vladimir Putin, who is attempting to reignite the Cold War. However, Cafferty might want to consider the fact that fewer pesky journalists seem to mysteriously disappear in the United States than they do in Russia.
During this week’s Republican debate, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer had a suggestion for the national GOP: Be more like liberal Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, this is an idea he’s peddled four times since the midterm elections. Isn’t it sweet when left-wing journalists offer advice to the Republican Party?
Speaking of liberal cable hosts, Keith Olbermann suggested this week that the unraveling of a terror plot at JFK airport was politically timed to help the Bush administration. Yes, Keith, and the Paris Hilton media soap opera is a cover by the White House to distract from the immigration debacle.
To hear the media tell it, Cuba is a great country to live in and visit. With propagandist Michael Moore’s “Sicko” soon to debut and glorify the Cuban health care system, NBC “Today host Matt Lauer broadcast from Havana, Cuba on June 5.
Lauer praised the “booming” economy and talked about the country’s stability.
“There’s stability here. Business is booming and tourists are flocking here, some two million a year.”
Lauer didn’t emphasize that those tourism dollars pay to keep Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in power, or that the Cuba seen by tourists is not the Cuba lived in by ordinary Cubans.
If this morning's Today show segment on Cuba is any indication expect Matt Lauer's visit to the communist country tomorrow to gloss over much of Fidel Castro's brutal regime. Previewing the Today show anchor's trip, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell reported on Castro's health and actually highlighted an unidentified Cuban citizen wishing Castro well as he exclaimed: "I care about him. I love him!"
Judging from Mitchell's report 'Today' viewers may also get more than their fair share of Cuban mouthpiece Ricardo Alarcon tomorrow, as the Cuban National Assembly president was featured as the go-to-guy for the latest on Castro's health. While Mitchell did air one soundbite from Condoleezza Rice criticizing the regime, she then went on to depict Cuban opinion on Castro as merely "divided." Neither Mitchell nor Lauer bothered to mention critics of Castro often end up being imprisoned or worse.
The media was fascinated with the story of the Americans in Michael Moore's "Sicko," who left the US for medical treatment in Cuba, a country with socialized medicine, and it was used to highlight the failings of the US health care system. When the exact opposite occurred, and an American fled Italy's socialized medicine for medical treatment in the privatized care of the US, the media decded that angle was no longer significant.
In the coverage of Andrew Speaker’s TB quarantine, very little was mentioned about why he was so determined to return to the US that he ignored the CDC’s command to remain in Italy to treat his life-threatening illness, which is the most serious form of TB and is resistant to most drugs.
Speaker was so adamant about getting out of Italy and returning to the US health care system because Italy's was inadequate for his needs. The AP recounted the Diane Sawyer interview on ABC where Andrew Speaker said the doctors at a Denver research hospital said the US was his only hope (emphasis mine throughout):
"Before I left, I knew that it was made clear to me, that in order to fight this, I had one shot, and tha was going to be in Denver," he said. If doctors in Europe tried to treat him and it went wrong, he said, "it's very real that I could have died there."
[Update/related MRC study: Rich Noyes reminded me of his 2002 study of CNN's favorable coverage of the Cuban regime.]
My only complaint with Siegelbaum is her describing the Cuban state media as an "information service," that pedals "information" handed it by the Castro regime. When many biased, liberal journalists skeptically eye anything coming from the White House or Pentagon as "spin," it becomes all the more annoying that Cuban state media are seen as relaying "information."
In a surprise in their Sunday Week in Review section, The New York Times assigned a correspondent to question leftist filmmaker Michael Moore’s math about Cuba having a better health care system than the United States: "How could a poor developing country — where annual health care spending averages just $230 a person compared with $6,096 in the United States — come anywhere near matching the richest country in the world?" Correspondent Anthony DePalma found experts who granted points to Cuba’s "universal" health care, but also pointed to the communist dictatorship’s high rates of abortion and emigration, and ironically, its shortages – poor transportation and a restricted food supply – as reasons why Cuban life expectancy may be high.
The DePalma piece was highlighted on the Times home page Sunday, complete with a picture of people sitting in a clinic under a painting of Che Guevara. DePalma noted that Moore’s new film "Sicko" gets poetic about the wonders of Cuban health care: It "savages the American health care system — and along the way extols Cuba’s system as the neatest thing since the white linen guayabera [shirt]." He began his analysis by quoting Moore promoting Cuba in Time:
David German, the AP movie writer, reported that notorious liberal bomb-thrower and fact-fudger, Michael Moore “is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department for taking ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming health-care documentary 'Sicko.' " The May 10 article seemed very matter of fact, but Moore and his movies were presented from the perspective that the filmmaker is controversial but accurate and is persecuted by his “adversaries.”
The AP indicated that the Treasury Department is investigating Moore because he did not follow the law. The AP obtained a copy of a letter, dated May 2, sent by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which informed Moore that it was investigating potential violations of the US trade embargo which restricts US travel to Cuba. According to an unnamed source affiliated with “Sicko,” this past February, Moore took ill Ground Zero workers to Cuba for “treatment” (my use of irony quotes because Cuba used new and unproven procedures. Emphasis mine throughout):
"This office has no record that a specific license was issued authorizing you to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba," Dale Thompson, OFAC chief of general investigations and field operations, wrote in the letter to Moore.
Now that Rosie O’Donnell has announced she’s leaving "The View," her left-wing rhetoric seems to have gotten even more extreme. This week, the liberal comedienne smeared U.S. troops by saying they only join the military because they’re mostly uneducated and poor. (This isn’t true, but why bring facts into the debate?)
This week, "Good Morning America’s" weatherman (and liberal environmentalist) Sam Champion touted the left-wing advocacy of actor Robert Redford. Oddly, he tried to persuade GMA viewers that Redford’s positions were somehow new.
There's really only one problem for Cuba: those yanqui imperialists and the embargo they slapped on the country. Just ask Andrea Mitchell. The NBC correspondent is in Cuba today for the May Day festivities. Here's an excerpt from her conversation on MSNBC at 9:07 EDT this morning with host Contessa Brewer.
MSNBC HOST CONTESSA BREWER: Is there an expectation among the crowd there, a sense that Castro will return to power at some point?
NBC CORRESPONDENT ANDREA MITCHELL: Officials are pointing out, and it's certainly true from my visits here that the government runs, it's business as usual, that they have managed this succession rather well. Raul Castro is here today, he and other leaders are very much in charge. There have been no major problems, other than the continuing economic difficulties that of course this country faces because of the U.S. embargo, the economic embargo.
Less than a week after Havana-based CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum trumpeted on CBSNews.com how “thanks to the socialist island’s free health care system -- which emphasizes preventive medicine -- Cubans enjoy a very high life expectancy," Monday's CBS Evening News salivated over the anticipated May Day return of Fidel Castro as Lara Logan confidently relayed the views of “Cubans” and “people here” in the repressive totalitarian state supposedly “enraged” by the U.S. release of a man convicted of blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976.
Anchor Katie Couric heralded: “In Cuba tonight, a lot of anticipation. Reports there say Fidel Castro may lead tomorrow's May Day celebration.” From Havana, Lara Logan asserted: “Just as Cubans are hoping that Fidel Castro will make his first public appearance since falling ill nine months ago, people here have been enraged by the re-emergence of one of his oldest and most hated enemies. Luis Posada Carriles is to Cubans their Osama bin Laden.” Speaking for all Cubans, Logan insisted that “Cubans want him to face terrorism charges. Outraged, they've taken to the streets here in silent protest day after day.” After video of those protesters of supposed free-will, Logan issued another generality: “People here accuse the U.S. of hypocrisy, asking how America can condemn countries who harbor terrorists while refusing to hand over Cuba's most wanted terrorist.” She offered no soundbites or names to support her assumption.
While journalists howl at the indignity of Helen Thomas being moved about six feet, from the first row to the second row of the new White House press room, there’s been relative silence about the Cuban dictatorship’s expulsion of Western journalists who published stories unflattering to the communist leadership.
[update added at the end of original post]
Today’s Investor’s Business Daily says the expulsion of the Chicago Tribune’s Gary Marx, the BBC’s Stephen Gibbs and Mexico’s El Universal reporter Cesar Gonzalez-Calero “was a minor story, but shouldn’t be.” With these three paying a penalty for reporting the uncomfortable truths about Castro’s dying dictatorship, IBD correctly asks “why the remaining correspondents inside Cuba aren’t red-faced about not being thrown out.”
The Associated Press reports that three journalists are being kicked out of Cuba for writing stories critical of the Communist regime: one BBC reporter, a Chicago Tribune reporter, and a correspondent for El Universal, a Mexican newspaper.
When I read this I recalled a study by MRC's Rich Noyes a few years back about CNN's Cuba coverage, which, by contrast, never incensed the Castro regime. In fact, Noyes found that stories filed from that bureau's chief Lucia Newman amounted to a "Megaphone for a Dictator."
Would you be proud of yourself if your works were commemorated for helping put in power a murderous Communist who has killed thousands upon thousands of his own people over a 40 some year reign of terror?
When the fights against the Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista began in the late 1950s, Fidel Castro was just one of several guerrilla fighters trying to vie for followers and publicity. Castro was just a nut in the wilderness with few followers, though, until Herbert Matthews and the New York Times came along.
Two days after CNN founder Ted Turner told journalists at the Reuters office in Manhattan that the war in Iraq was one of the “dumbest” decisions in history, that only women should be allowed to run for office -- though he simultaneously touted the male Al Gore, a “great leader,” for President -- and argued Iran should be able to have nuclear weapons since “we have 28,000. Why can't they have ten?”, he appeared Thursday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman where he spouted fresh silliness.
Recalling for Letterman his activities in the 1980s, Turner implied that he ended the Cold War: “I was trying to bring the Cold War, help bring it to and end with the Goodwill Games and a bunch of our initiatives that we worked on with the Russians and it worked.” Turner described Cuba as “a wonderful place” and fretted: “I think it's crazy that we don't have relations with Cuba when we made normalized relations with Vietnam after the Vietnam war.” He argued: “If we wanted democracy to function and capitalism in Cuba, what we need to do is send a whole lot of tourists down there to get everybody materialistic like we are up here. And then we would have already, I'm sure, I believe, that communism would have been gone from there if we'd have just been friends with them.”
Sorry, this item is a bit dated. On last weekend's edition of "On The Media" on National Public Radio, host Bob Garfield devoted a segment to the utter, outrageous waste of public broadcasting. Oops, no, not that public broadcasting, but U.S. propaganda broadcasts to Cuba. (Forgive me for chortling whenever a government-funded news outlet denounces another government-funded news outlet. It ought to come with a disclaimer. "We here at National Public Radio believe deeply in biting the hand that feeds us -- hard.")
Garfield began by reporting on TV Marti's satire show, "The Office of the Chief," that mocks Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In the chair normally occupied by El Jefe was his brother Raul Castro, "waxing about his 59 luxury homes and barking orders at his staff." After a clip, Garfield instructed:
Here at NewsBusters, we often bring you irrational rants from paranoid lefties who are certain that Chimpy Bush McHitler is trying to become dictator of America, enslave anyone to the left of Pat Robertson, and personally assasinate Pinch Sulzberger.
Now, for a change of pace, here's Val Prieto on some real journalists who actually are living in a totalitarian government. Here's an excerpt but the entire piece is very well worth reading:
Right now there remain at least two dozen independent journalists incarcerated in Cuba simply because they dared speak the truth. Some have been locked away since 2003, still in the infancy of their 15 or 20 year sentences. Truth has made them suffer beatings, torture and malnutrition. Truth has mocked, ridiculed, and subjected them to abject horrors and indignity.
All because they bear witness to the world around them and dare describe it nakedly and without their government’s official veil.
There are many journalists from around the world in Havana. CNN is there. Reuters, the AP. They live comfortably in hotel rooms and work in comfortable in air-conditioned offices full of amenities. They have the copy machine. They have the faxes and computers and printers and scanners. They have staff and editors. What they don’t have is the security to report the truth.
First Reuters had a photo scandal to face. Now Go Pundit Go has discovered that Reuters is currently employing a former writer for the People’s Daily World, a Communist Party USA publication. And it turns out his propagandistic tendencies haven't left him, as he recently wrote a glowing review in the Financial Times on how Cubans are dealing with their leader's poor health:
"Cuba remained calm on Sunday as people engaged in voluntary work, cleaned neighbourhoods and donated blood in Mr Castro’s honour."
You can see Marc Frank's latest Reuters work here.
Journalists, the self-described writers of the first draft of history, often have a very tough time remembering it. I've lost count how many times I've heard the phrase "most ever," "biggest in history," "worst X ever" and so on.
The BBC provided the latest example of this historical short-sightedness in a not-exactly condemnatory (the Beeb never once calls him a dictator) profile of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which as the WSJ's James Taranto noted yesterday, contained a major error:
Last Monday the BBC published a puff piece on Cuba's dictator titled "Fidel:
The World Icon." Here's how it starts:
Cuba's President Fidel Castro--the world's longest-serving leader--turns
80 on 13 August. This week, we will be assessing his political life and his
impact on the Caribbean island.
Nearly two week ago, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell suggested hard-line Communist Raul Castro really did have a soft spot for capitalism.
has been in charge of the military and the economy,” Mitchell explained
to the August 2 “Today” show audience, calling Fidel’s younger brother “politically hard-line but more open than his brother to free
enterprise, including foreign investment.”
She might be on to something, after all.
prosecutors in Miami were prepared to indict Raul Castro as the head of
a major cocaine smuggling conspiracy in 1993, but the Clinton
Administration Justice Department overruled them, current and former
Justice Department officials tell ABC News,” ABC’s Brian Ross and Vic Walter reported on August 14.
In an article on Fidel Castro, his health, and his visit from Venezuelan Fidel fan Hugo Chavez, the Associated Press noted that "birthday articles in state-run newspapers extolled his virtues." The implication is that state-controlled papers aren't apt to be truthful, much less objective.
So what's the AP's excuse? In the very same article, AP reporter Anita Snow informs us that:
"News of Castro's illness made Cubans uneasy about the future, but a series of upbeat statements from government officials have helped calm a public facing up to the mortality of the island's longtime leader. 'What happiness I received!' exclaimed resident Margot Gomez after seeing Sunday's newspaper during a morning walk in Havana. 'Long live Fidel and long live the revolution! He knows what to do to convert setbacks into victories!'
You might have thought they had gone the way of the dodo bird. But as per a sighting on today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer web site, there are still defenders of communism out there in the Western press.
Elian Gonzalez sent a note Sunday wishing a speedy recovery to "my dear grandpa Fidel," ...Gonzalez, the Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle with family members in Miami six years ago, published a letter in the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde signed with "little kisses" from him and his half-siblings and cousins.
"We send you this letter to let you know that we are worried about your health," Elian, now 12, wrote. "We hope for your speedy recovery and take the opportunity to wish you a happy birthday, may you have many more."