Cuba Punishes Western Reporters; Where's the Rest of the Media's Outrage?
[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.”
Here’s an excerpt from their Wednesday editorial, the complete version of which can be found at www.IBDEditorials.com:
Marx (Gary, that is) wrote of the disillusionment of Cuba's youth with communism, fakery at Castro's military parades and how the Cuban black market works.Back in 2002, the MRC reviewed the first five years of coverage after CNN became the first Western news organization to have a news bureau in Cuba in nearly 30 years. From 1997 to 2002, CNN ran only two stories about the lack of press freedom under Castro, even as the vast majority of CNN’s coverage merely transmitted the views of Cuba’s communist government.
Gonzalez-Calero chronicled long lines, lousy train rides and savings devaluations. He also asked the key question of who was running Cuba and highlighted the fact that the Cuban government had no intention of telling.
Gibb reported on Cuba's social disintegration, including AIDS camps and strange traffic like husband-selling....
What it didn't match was the tripe put out by Cuba's state press, touting the "achievements" of communism. Cuban authorities told Marx his work was "negative." Gonzalez-Calero was thrown out for "reporting in a way that does not comport with the Cuban government."
If professional standards mean anything to the mainstream media, getting expelled for that reason is a badge of honor.
Which brings up why remaining correspondents inside Cuba aren't red-faced about not being thrown out.
As with the CNN correspondents who admitted they slanted prewar Iraq coverage to avoid getting their visas revoked by Saddam Hussein, one sees some of this very behavior in the Cuban correspondents and one wonders what the value of such cowardice is. It's a problem for anyone covering a totalitarian regime. But few reporters excused Hussein's regime the way some do Cuba's....
Journalists who fail to pass along the realities of a dictatorship are not only doing their readers a disservice. They're also being foolish. One day the Castro regime will fall, and when the Cuban secret police files are opened, there could be a reckoning of what the truth of this regime and their role in its enablement really was.
Sounds like not much has changed.
UPDATE (Ken Shepherd | 18:49 EST): Henry Gomez at Babalu Blog contacted me earlier with some observations on Cuban media coverage. He argues in this February 23 post that every reporter who sticks around the Marxist island long enough pretty much has to make a Faustian bargain that compromises his/her integrity as a journalist.