Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Castro coverage

Well, it didn't take long for the Babalu boys to jump on the media for their coverage of Castro's resignation.

Another blogger found an internal CNN memo cautioning newsreaders not to emphasize only the negative aspects of Castro's rule, and it's unleashed another firestorm against what they call the 'Communist News Network' and its allies like the New York Times, which also had the temerity to say Castro "succeeded in establishing universal health care, providing free education through college and largely rooting out racism."

Babalu points to research at the Media Research Center, detailing The U.S. Media's Decades of Cheering Castro's Communism. Yes, that research center founded by Brent Bozell to expose the media's liberal bias.

Yes, they just won't be satisfied until all the news coverage is totally one sided.

(Links to reaction from other blogs and news sites at Memeorandum.)



  • Sorry Liz, but reporting that Mussolini made the trains run on time isn't my idea of objective reporting.

    By Blogger Henry Gomez, at 11:58 PM  

  • By the way it's easy to say MRC was founded by so and so to try discredit it, but did you actually follow through and watch the video clips? Can you defend them?

    People who deny the holocaust are rightly criticized in our society, but somehow it's OK for the Today Show to go to Cuba last summer, broadcast live for two hours and for Matt Lauer to utter TWELVE SENTENCES that could be considered MILDLY critical of the regime. They didn't mention one political prisoner or dissident by name much less try to talk to one. Could you imagine if that network went to South Africa in the 80s and did a travelogue without mentioning Nelson Mandela?

    I understand you worked many years in the media and I respect that but it's time to take the blinders off and realize that the Cuban situation has not gotten a fair shake in the media since Herbert Matthews wrote his first piece about fidel in the NYT.

    By the way the email from CNN is 100% legitimate and it disgusts me. And it wouldn't take too much research to find that Cuba had free public education and low cost healthcare available to everyone before fidel.

    By Blogger Henry Gomez, at 12:05 AM  

  • I always say who the Media Research Center is, since I was rebuked by a journalist who was unfairly treated by them, he says, for linking to them without attribution.
    And, as a researcher trained to try always to find all sides to a story, I have a hard time doing it any differently and hope the media I read or hear does the same.
    Plus, I'm a Gemini, whose husband can't understand why I always try to see the other side.
    Ha! Maybe a new theme for my blog.....?

    By Blogger liz, at 10:44 AM  

  • Liz, even your coverage of the story here is biased and one sided.

    By Blogger Val Prieto, at 2:16 PM  

  • of all, Castro nor his revolution did not institute universal healthcare or free education on the island. The wily goat has been taking credit for this lie now for 49 years and people are too stupid or gullible by believing him. Before Castro, even before Batista, Cuba had an excellent system of medical clinics and the first HMO prototypes all around the island. Cuba before Castro wasn’t a third world nation – it was in fact a multidemsional eclectic society on the rise – working through some problems, but nevertheless its economy was comparable or larger then some industrialized western nations. It’s all there in the UN statistical data for that time period – one just has to look. Ask any old Cuban exile or on the island (if they have the courage to do so) and they will tell you the truth. We do not lie. For a very small monthly fee my parents, relatives, friends, and their countrymen and women were entitled to excellent national and local healthcare in modern clinics all around the island. This was one of the progressive elements built into Cuba's forward thinking 1940 constitution! Even if you didn't have the money they would not turn you away, and the medical care would be free or on a payment plan. I should know. I came from a medical family and my grandfather, uncle, and father were all doctors! Plus I grew up around all these exiled Cuban doctors and they will tell you the same. This is not some conspiracy – it is the truth – a truth that Castro has destroyed and taken the credit for himself.

    As for education – Cubans have always been an educated society and high value was placed on education, culture, and the arts – even for the poorest of people. My Grandfather on my mom’s side was a descendant of poor Canary Island farmers who immigrated to Cuba – they were poor to lower middle class, but my grandfather was able to put himself, as an adult, through night school and then through continuing education at the college in their town near Havana. My mother still has fond memories of him – a lower middle class landscaper, already into his 30s, practicing algebra with his friends for their test in the following days. Eventually this poor farmer became an agricultural engineer and made something of himself – like many did in Cuba – in Cuba before Castro. Also school was very advanced in Cuba before Castro. High school in the United States was nothing. In Cuba high school students where already college level. It was only after the graduated high school (which was really like college) that they went on to the University. Again, Castro took credit and all you gullible folk believed him – you could of asked a gaggle of old Cubans and they would of told you the real truth. My dad always with pride stated that he only paid $5 dollars in 1940 and 1950 rates for every in college including his medical school because the education which was opened to all was subsidized by the government. My dad would say, no one in Cuba would have to go uneducated because all the resources were there for those who wanted them – the only thing was that one had to study hard to get in and to stay in – there were no free rides and you were respected not by the color of your skin but by your grades and accomplishments! Even if you didn’t have the small fee to pay to go to school the administrators would get you in for free – but under one condition – that you studied really hard and showed interest – slacking off was a major taboo. My dad did not lie, plus again, it’s all there in the UN statistical data for those years.

    By Anonymous mar, at 3:49 PM  

  • “SANTIAGO, Chile -- Like a modern Mussolini, Chile's former military ruler Gen. Augusto Pinochet has defenders, here and abroad, who excuse his brutal governing style since it brought increased efficiency to a bloated and underproductive economy.”

    Where did this little gem of “balanced” reporting come from? Why, none other than The Miami Herald, March 18, 1998. Amazing what a little googling can turn up ( So, to say something good about a right-wing dictatorship is to “excuse” brutality, but to say something good about a left-wing dictatorship is to be “balanced.” It seems the obsession of the press with “balance” is itself in need of balance. Oh, the hypocrisy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:38 AM  

  • Liz, even your coverage of the story here is biased and one sided.

    She's a blogger, Einstein. She can present the info any damn well she pleases. You, of all people, should understand that.


    By Blogger Rick, at 7:23 AM  

  • *She's a blogger, Einstein. She can present the info any damn well she pleases. You, of all people, should understand that.*

    Yeah, what's a little truth to a leftie blogger, especially where Castro is concerned?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:10 AM  

  • Um. I don't think what I do is 'coverage', either.

    I point to things I find interesting. If some of the things I point to are not the mainstream ideas on a topic, that's why I do it, because they don't get the same attention. It may not be what some people want to read, but others do.

    I've been reading about Cuba for well over 40 years and the great majority of the coverage, especially for the first 20 years, was definitely one sided.

    I like to hear the other side, whether I agree with it or not.

    By Blogger liz, at 10:26 AM  

  • Ms. Donovan,

    With all due respect, I would like to know just WHY you would like to hear the “other side” of the story of Castro’s regime. To me, this sounds as if you’re withholding judgment on Castro until you have all the facts. If I am correct, then logically, it seems to me that either 1) you’re not convinced that the regime is a dictatorship, or 2) you do believe the regime is a dictatorship, but you believe there could be a positive side to this dictatorship that would make it a justifiable dictatorship in your eyes. I suppose another possibility is that you simply like to point out the good and bad in everything, be it Castro, Hitler, Bush, starving children in Africa, or nuclear war — but I’ll discount that possibility for now.

    If you don’t believe the regime is a dictatorship, then you must obviously feel that Cuban-Americans have been telling nothing but lies for 49 years. You must believe that Castro has been freely elected to office, time and time again, for almost 50 years. You must also attribute the emigration of two million or more Cubans — an exodus which began with Castro’s rise to power and continues to this day, often at great personal risk — to something other than Castro. Perhaps you think it has all been due to the US embargo, which has created such unbearable economic hardship that people have been forced to leave in droves. If so, then you must believe that a communist system is capable of providing adequately for its people in the absence of an embargo. And yet, we have seen the collapse of every single communist country, with the exceptions of Cuba, North Korea, Viet Nam, and China. China and Viet Nam have adopted capitalist reforms and are booming economically, if not democratically. That leaves Cuba and North Korea. How is North Korea’s economy these days? Did the Soviet Bloc collapse due to an embargo? Did China and Viet Nam adopt capitalist reforms due to an embargo? Is Cuba not free to trade with every other country in the world? Do countries such as Spain and France have no products at all that Cuba could use? Given the facts, is it not more reasonable to conclude that Cuba’s economic woes are due to the inherently flawed economic policies of communism? Furthermore, since you don’t believe Cuba is a dictatorship (in this scenario), you must believe that those Cubans who have left have been free to leave. This means that you must discount the countless stories of people sneaking out in rickety boats and rafts in the dead of night to avoid detection by the authorities. You must also believe that people simply prefer to risk their lives in shark-infested waters rather than hopping a plane to Mexico or Spain. But surely, at least some people would opt for the latter. There must be some regular flights carrying substantial numbers of Cuban emigres from Cuba to these countries; would this be so difficult to verify? You would also have to ignore the entire history of all other communist countries in matters of travel restrictions. Perhaps you think the Berlin Wall was built to keep westerners out. Perhaps you missed the scenes of unrestrained joy when the wall came crashing down.

    If you do believe Cuba is a dictatorship, and that fact ALONE is not enough to convince you that you should oppose Castro every bit as fervently as we “fanatical” Cuban-Americans, then you would have to feel that there could be a positive side to this dictatorship that would render it justifiable. Surely, you must have formulated some ideas as to what factors could possibly be wonderful enough to justify a dictatorship. By definition, in a dictatorship, people are not free to speak their minds. People cannot criticize their government, or participate in any activity designed to bring about a change in government. People cannot write blogs in which they criticize their government. People do not have access to any information that the government doesn’t want them to have. This includes the Internet, books, newspapers, magazines, and television and radio programs. People who disseminate or access any such information are punished, generally by means of beatings and/or imprisonment. I could go on, but that will suffice for the purposes of this argument.

    If you accept the above definition of Cuba, please tell me, what is this positive magic bullet you’re waiting to hear about Castro, and why? Do you value your freedom of expression wholeheartedly, or can you imagine some “perk” — such as free healthcare — that would make you glad to surrender this freedom? Could this perk be a free education? If so, does the only thing that matter is that it be free monetarily, or does it also matter that it be free in content? Is the ability to read sufficient in and of itself, or is it also important to be able to read whatever you want? I bring up healthcare and education because those are the things usually touted as proof of Castro’s beatitude; if there is any other factor that could convince you to give up your rights, I would be most interested to know what it might be. If there is nothing whatsoever that would convince you to happily surrender your rights, then surely you cannot be so condescending as to assume that the Cuban people are any different from you in that regard. I’m going to go out on a limb here and state my belief that the vast majority of Americans would not surrender their rights for free (albeit atrocious) healthcare and free (albeit censored) education. Even if the healthcare were the best in the world, I still don’t think they would do it. If I am correct, then I see no reason whatsoever why we Cuban-Americans should be so maligned and reviled for passionately, insistently, vociferously stating our opposition to a tin pot dictator who has imposed on our people something that Americans would find intolerable. If you don’t like us because you find us obnoxious or because we tend to vote Republican, does that excuse Castro’s abuses of power? Assume, for the sake of argument, that the Cuban healthcare system is topnotch. There is a ray of sunshine in the gulag. OK, great; what then? Is Castro a great guy all of a sudden? Is Cuba a pretty cool place to live? Would Cuban-Americans have been proven totally wrong, or would we still be right 99%? Does the 1% balance out the 99%? Would this mean that in order to have free healthcare, you must put up with repression? Don’t countries such as Sweden have free healthcare AND free and open societies? Would it be better to live in Sweden, or Cuba? What is the purpose of this endless insistence on “balance,” and why is Castro the only dictator afforded this courtesy? The term “balance” means that something on one side has equal weight with something on the other side. What could possibly be so wonderful that it would balance out the denial of rights, political prisoners, and murder, not to mention a miserable failure of an economy and squalid living conditions in a once-prosperous country? Finally, what if everything we have been saying for years is true — that Castro IS a dictator, with lousy free healthcare and lousy free education? Is the truth “balanced” enough for you?

    If neither of the above scenarios is correct, then I am forced to conclude that you simply like to point out the good and bad in everything, be it Castro, Hitler, Bush, starving children in Africa, or nuclear war.

    By Anonymous el chino, at 11:37 PM  

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