Skip to comments.The Access of Evil-- CNN's Duplicity
Posted on 04/14/2003 3:17:35 PM PDT by backhoe
I strongly suspect they and all the alphabet-soup networks knew a lot for a long, long time-- they are paid to be professionaly curious.
It's a grand time to be a free American!
Whew! That's a cutting turn of phrase!
I agree whole-heartedly. And it's about bloody time....
Indeed, it is past time...
By L. Brent Bozell III,
President of the Media Research Center
May 14, 2002
Jimmy Carter's visit to Havana this week should spur some nice exclusives for CNN, since it's the only American news agency with a bureau in the Cuban capital. Five years ago, the U.S. government and Fidel Castro agreed to let CNN open a Havana bureau, the first permanent American news presence since Associated Press was expelled 28 years before, with the understanding that "news gathering activities within Cuba be unconditioned and unrestricted." Sen. Jesse Helms supported the CNN presence, saying Mr. Castro was accepting "the rope with which to hang himself."
But CNN hasn't treated its Cuban exclusivity as a gold mine for tough scoops. In a Media Research Center study of five years of news coverage out of CNN in Havana, only four out of 212 news stories (less than two percent) focused on the harsh political realities of Cubas rigid one-party dictatorship, and only seven CNN reports (three percent) focused on the peaceful dissidents that President Castro keeps locked away in his dungeons. By contrast, CNN has done twice as many stories in just the first three months of this year about alleged human rights abuses by the United States against terrorist suspects held at its Cuban base at Guantanamo Bay.
Even these numbers are generous. In one story on one-party elections, CNN reporter Lucia Newman brazenly declared there was "no dubious campaign spending here" and "no mud slinging...[in] a system President Castro boasts is the most democratic and cleanest in the world."
Reporting like Newman's explains why it made sense for Castro to welcome Ted Turner's network in 1997, since Turner had spent millions producing pro-Castro propaganda films on his networks over the years, including a ring-kissing 1990 interview Turner himself awarded the dean of dictators.
The celebrity treatment has continued for Castro. In February of 2000, CNN's show "Newsstand" devoted one of its "Cool Digs" segments to describing the contents of Castro's office, right down to the worn tips of his erasers. "Years ago, our host worked as an attorney, defending poor people," declared anchorman Stephen Frazier. "He's Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader since 1959, who has been making waves lately in his fight for the return of young Elian Gonzalez." Instead of focusing on the regime's abuses of human rights, CNN has often focused on the personal instead of the political, with saccharine stories on cigars, promising young ballerinas, or a 94-year-old guitar player.
Most ironically, CNN has offered only two stories over five years on Cuba's lack of freedom of the press, and both of them ignored Castro's threats to expel foreign journalists who would "insult" his regime with any journalistic vigor. Reports on Cuban press crackdowns by Reporters Without Borders or other pro-free press organizations over the past five years have also been ignored by CNN.
The toothless performance documented in the MRC study mostly occurred when CNN was under old management, before Walter Isaacson and his crew took over last summer. Isaacson can and should issue new marching orders: CNN should use its Havana advantage and commit to increasing the amount of Cuba news, regularly reporting on the welfare of Cubas dissidents and doing real investigative journalism that will tell the real story of life in Cuba the way that no other U.S.-based television network can tell it.
It might look like CNN believes it's too dangerous for its Havana-based reporters to be as adversarial with the Castro regime as it is with America's elected leaders. But whether it reflects fear or favor, the lack of journalistic independence that CNNs displayed in the past five years only fosters the harmful illusion that Fidel Castro has survived real, Western-style media scrutiny.
May 9, 2002
Five years ago, CNN became the first U.S.-based news organization with a full-time news bureau in communist Cuba in nearly 30 years. As an independent and highly-regarded news organization, CNNs mission was to transmit the reality of Castros dictatorship to American audiences. In 1997, then-White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry told reporters that reporting of truth about the conditions in Cuba would further...peaceful, democratic change in Cuba. CNN officials also had high hopes. Incoming Havana bureau chief Lucia Newman assured viewers we will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without prior censorship.
CNNs Havana bureau now has a five-year track record that can be evaluated, and the results are not good. Media Research Center analysts reviewed all 212 stories about the Cuban government or Cuban life that were presented on CNNs prime time news programs from March 17, 1997, the date the Havana bureau was established, through March 17, 2002. MRCs analysis found that instead of exposing the totalitarian regime that runs Cuba, CNN has allowed itself to become just another component of Fidel Castros propaganda machine.
On FNC's Fox & Friends on May 14 Rich Noyes discussed the MRC's study of CNN's Cuba coverage, "Megaphone for a Dictator"
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.
CNNs 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 Castros communist government is overwhelmingly popular among the Cuban public.
CNN provided very little coverage of Cubas dissidents, who were the focus of only seven of the 212 Cuba stories broadcast during the past five years, or about three percent of CNNs total coverage. Thats 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 Cubas 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 Cubas rigged election as superior to those in the U.S. because they have no dubious campaign spending and no mud slinging.
Much of CNNs 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 dictatorships secret security apparatus. Instead of focusing on the regimes 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 Castros 73rd birthday celebrations and, in February 2000, featured the dictators office in the Cool Digs segment of CNNs Newsstand.
The MRC report concluded that CNN could have used its unique bureau to add to the American publics knowledge of the only totalitarian state in the Western hemisphere. But instead of enlightening the public about the regimes repression, CNNs Havana office has mainly provided Castro and his subordinates with a megaphone to defend their dictatorship and denigrate their democratic opponents.
If CNN is interested in improving its coverage, the MRC report included the following suggestions: 1) increase the amount of Cuba news; 2) commit to doing real investigative journalism in Cuba; 3) broadcast regular reports on the welfare and status of political prisoners held by Castro; and 4) promote the reporting efforts of Cubas independent journalists. But if CNN cannot or will not commit to improving its coverage, it should close its Havana bureau rather than perpetuate the fiction that it is helping Americans better understand the realities of Cuba under Castro.
With internet access. And with friends who have really great search skills!
Thanks for the ping Howlin! I hope to GOD, CNN goes down BIG TIME for this.
And I think it's a grand thing, pitfalls and all. People are better off ( generally ) with more information as opposed to more ignorance. We live in exciting times.
Alas, CNN themselves have answered this question -- at least, where Saddam is concerned.
Yes, a revolution in the exchange of information here in free America.
However, around the world, in most statist countries, brought to you by the governments of these statist countries, CNN broadcasts its propaganda loud and clear.
For goodness sakes, half of CNN international is broadcast from the repressive country of China in a former free city -- a.k.a Hong Kong.