FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When It Comes to Cuba and the Media Anything Goes

by NELSON P. VALDÉS

On March 14, 2009 Newsweek magazine published an article [“The Plot Against the Castros”] written by Jorge Castañeda. The article claimed to provide an interpretation of the reasons for the March 3rd government changes in Cuba.

The author claimed,

“…for at least a month or so, Lage, Pérez Roque and others were apparently involved in a conspiracy, betrayal, coup or whatever term one prefers, to overthrow or displace Raúl from his position. In this endeavor, they recruited—or were recruited by—Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, who in turn tried to enlist the support of other Latin American leaders, starting with Leonel Fernández of the Dominican Republic, who refused to get involved.” [1]

Castañeda, using his power of creative fiction wrote:

The day after their resignation, the two plotters were expelled from their other posts in disgrace. In a newspaper column Fidel accused them of harboring excessive “ambitions” fed by the “honey of power” and the “absence of sacrifice.” He said they had reawakened the illusions of “foreign powers” regarding Cuba’s future. More importantly,and enigmatically, he resorted to a baseball metaphor on the occasion of the World Baseball Classic to praise Dominicans for not participating (the team’s plans had been unclear) and to claim that Chavez’s baseball players, “as good and young” as they might be, were no match for “Cuba’s seasoned all-stars.”

In his article Castañeda conflated Fidel Castro’s comments about the
Baseball Classic with changes in the makeup of the Cuban cabinet. In the process he even imagined the role of two Latin American presidents.

Within hours it was clear that the Newsweek piece was based on no evidence. Jorge Castañeda had said as much 72 hours later, CNN from Mexico City quoted him as saying, “”I have no evidence of it.”[2]. Yet, on March 18th in the digital version of the Spanish newspaper  El País he had a new article (La ambigüedad de la victoria)  where he repeated his speculation although acknowledging he had nothing to back him up. In the new revised speculation he mentioned Hugo Chavez but not the Dominican Republic president. Of course, the Venezuelan president denied the assertions. [3]

Over 67,000 web pages, blogs and printed media reproduced the claim that there had been a plot against the government of Raul Castro; yet, only 18,000 web pages reported that the whole thing was not based on evidence. When it comes to Cuba, anything goes as far as the mass media and numerous academic institutions are concerned. Castañeda is at present a fellow at the New America Foundation, which only shows that some “think tanks” are ready to broadcast fantasy, falsehoods and anything else as long as some ideological preconceptions are ratified.

The blogger Machetera, on March 17, decided to speculate on what is going on “Inside Jorge Castañeda’s feverish mind.” And “just for fun” Machetera ripped the Newsweek article apart, paragraph by paragraph. [4] Yet, another “respectable” publication came to the rescue of the creative fiction writer – Foreign Policy magazine [FP] , owned by the same company that produces Newsweek. Joshua Keating, the editor of FP wrote on the blog the editors of the magazine have:

“To be fair to Castañeda, “informed speculation” is probably the best we’re going to get in terms of Cuban political analysis at the moment. His theory seems as good as any of the others (It is a bit strange that Chavez hasn’t publicly commented on any of this yet.) and at least it has the virtue of being entertaining.”[5]

Of course, all these assertions were the result of an overactive imagination lacking the most basic professional ethics of commitment to truth, integrity and intellectual honesty. [6]

In the post-modern world truth, accuracy and method are of no consequence, it seems. Infotainment now passes as foreign policy analysis. When everything fails to justify political speculation, and hacks passing as academics are caught in their lies; there is always the entertainment value of lying. Or so, we are told.

NELSON P. VALDÉS is Emeritus Professor of Sociology (University of New Mexico) and director of the Cuba-L Project.

This article was written for Cuba-L Direct and CounterPunch.

Notes

[1]  http://www.newsweek.com/id/189261

[2] http://edition.cnn.com/

[3] http://cuba-l.unm.edu/

[4]  http://machetera.wordpress.com/2

[5] http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/

[6] A Guide to Professional Ethics in Political Science, Second Edition, revised 2008. http://www.apsanet.org/imgtest/ethicsguideweb.pdf

 

 

 

 

Nelson P. Valdes is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail