NBC's Castro-Driven Journalism

There's no worse crime in journalism these days than simply deciding something's a story because Drudge links to it.
 - NBC's Chuck Todd, March 6, 2010.

Oh, really?

Well, how about partnering with a Stalinist regime's military robber-barons to boost their currency booty and hide their tortures, mass-murders, and mass-jailings? To wit:   

In June 2007, Castro's Stalinist regime held a "tourism fair" in Havana to kick off an ambitious plan to boost the Cuban military's tourist booty. By some peculiar coincidence, NBC's "Today Show" decided to broadcast from Havana that very week. Amidst smiling, clapping, dancing tourists, Matt Lauer and Andrea Mitchell advised viewers on how to legally vacation in Cuba.

Don't look for this from NBC, but Castro's Soviet-trained and armed military and secret police own most of Cuba's tourist facilities. Along with providing these inquisitive Cuban officials with certain insights regarding visitors to Castro's fiefdom, this setup also insures that most of what tourists spend in Cuba lands in the pockets of the only people in Cuba with guns.

Yet Castro apologists and/or agents (both on the payroll and off) keep insisting that a flood of rich Western tourists will magically smother Cuban Stalinism, whereupon the island nation will quickly mutate into a bigger (and more historic and picturesque) Cozumel. This logic (which NBC's Matt and Andrea naturally share) seems to go something like this: Rewarding and enriching the KGB-trained and heavily armed guardians of Cuba's Stalinist status-quo will magically convert them into instant opponents of that Stalinist status quo.

Amazingly, this line of reasoning fails to convince those with firsthand experience under Cuba's Stalinist regime. But never mind this insufferable rabble of "Cuban-American right-wing crackpots" and their congressional allies. And never mind the evidence.

To wit: For each of the past fifteen years, almost ten times as many tourists have visited Cuba as have visited in any year during the 1950s, when Cuba was labeled a "tourist playground."

You will note the spectacular liberating effect this has had on Cubans, who with a few exceptions are barred by machine gun-wielding police from excessive interaction with these tourists.

Any trickle of foreign currency reaches the Stalinist regime's subjects (primarily from prostitution) is offset a thousand-fold by the millions ($2.4 billion last year, for instance) crammed into military and secret-police coffers.

Apparently eager to highlight their hypocrisy, the month prior to their Cuba broadcast, the "Today Show" reported on location from Cape Town, South Africa. "The one indispensable visit on a trip to Cape Town is a pilgrimage to Robben Island [a former political prison]," frowned the Today Show hosts. "Most moving, of course, is the tour through the prison, led by former inmates, where you'll view the painfully cramped cell where Nelson Mandela spent eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison."

Cuban political prisons and political prisoners did not merit any mention during the two-hour "Today Show" Havana broadcast, though hundreds of political prisoners were languishing in Cuba's dungeon's within miles of Andrea and Matt during the very taping. Among these were black human rights activist Dr. Elias Biscet, who attempted Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's tactics of non-violent civil disobedience against Cuba's very violent regime and suffers daily tortures for the effort, as confirmed by Amnesty International. The Paris-based Reporters without Borders documents that almost 20 percent of the world's jailed journalists (Matt and Andrea's colleagues, you might think) languish in Cuba's (a nation of 11 million!) prisons. Many of these jailed journalists suffered in dungeons within walking distance of where Matt and Andrea were yukking it up with their jailers and urging their viewers to "come on down!" -- and thus further reward, enrich, and entrench these jailers and torturers.

It was fascinating to watch Matt and Andrea decrying an implacable "U.S. blockade" of Cuba during a show from Cuba where the backdrop consisted of smiling tourists from all over the world (including the U.S.) holding up signs and waving.

It was also fascinating to hear Andrea, wife of former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman (and early Ayn Rand disciple) Alan Greenspan, explain that Communist economics has nothing to do with Cuba's crumbling buildings. Instead, that "U.S. embargo" is the culprit. For the record, for close to a decade now, the U.S. has been Cuba's number-one food supplier and 4th-biggest partner, while Cuba trades with every nation on earth.

As Andrea and Matt spoke from Havana, trade delegations from 24 of the 52 United States were also in Havana attending a trade fair and signing trade deals with the Stalinist torturers. The only thing the so-called embargo mandates nowadays is that Cuba's military robber-barons pay U.S. vendors up front in cash. No credit. (Moody's refuses to even rate Cuba, who has stiffed virtually her every creditor to date.)

So it was fascinating to hear the wife of one of the world's most famous and powerful economists imply that paint, cement, and spackle are available only in the U.S. and somehow not available with payments of cash.

One exchange between Andrea and Matt was particularly fascinating: "You often hear Cuban-Americans saying, When Fidel is gone, we're heading back to Cuba,'" says Lauer. "'We're going to reclaim our property, what was taken away from us.' And actually that is a fear of the Cuban people here."

Mitchell: "Sure. They're afraid of it. That is quite a legitimate fear, given the rhetoric coming out of some Cuban-Americans in Miami."

Poll after poll after poll of Cuban-Americans makes hash of this "Today Show" nonsense. Eighty percent of Cuban-Americans consistently reject Andrea's and Matt's contrived "revanchism." But for the sake of argument, let's go ahead and consider that other 20 percent.

Now, let's say that Andrea's and Matt's Beemers were to disappear one night while parked in Georgetown or on Broadway. Now let's say that the thieves were rounded up. We'd certainly look for NBC reporting how, given the hysterical rhetoric from Andrea and Matt about desiring the return of their possessions, these thieves had "a legitimate fear" that those Beemers would be "reclaimed" by the greedy Mr. Lauer and the revanchist and avaricious Ms. Mitchell.

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant and Exposing the Real Che Guevara. Visit hfontova.com
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