'Dishonest' Journalism Trademark of the Times, Not Fox News

Unlike the old soldier Douglas MacArthur, the Old Media refuses to fade away gracefully. 

In a long lament in last week’s Washington Post, former New York Times senior editor, Howell Raines epitomized this ungracefulness, wheezing against his former competition, Fox News.
“Ed Koch once told me he could not have been elected mayor of New York without the boosterism of the New York Post,” he writes. Raines implies that boosterism for a New York mayoral candidate is hideously tacky.  A truly world–class paper’s boosterism should be employed (apparently) to help Stalinists set up their killing fields and gulags. To wit:

Ernesto “Che” Guevara wrote, in his diaries: “A foreign reporter — preferably American — was much more valuable to us at that time (1957) than any military victory. Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force, were American media recruits to export our propaganda.” 

Raines continues in the Post: “In a bygone era of fact-based commentary typified, left to right, by my late colleagues Scotty Reston and Bill Safire, these deceptions (by Fox News) would have been given their proper label:  disinformation.”

Not to be confused with this impeccable misinformation printed (not as commentary, but as a gold-backed news scoop) on the very front pages of the New York Times by Scotty Reston’s colleague in July 1959:  “This is not a communist revolution in any sense of the word,” wrote Reston’s colleague and the New York Times senior man in Cuba, Herbert Matthews from Havana itself. “Fidel Castro is not only NOT a Communist, he is decidedly ANTI-Communist.  In Cuba there are NO COMMUNISTS in positions of control.”

For months by this date, Fidel, Raul, and Che had been repairing to their respective (stolen) Havana mansions nightly and conferring with Soviet GRU Agents to button down the Stalinization of Cuba. Raul Castro had been supervised by a KGB handler since 1953 and when arrested in Mexico in 1956, Ernesto ‘Che” Guevara was found to have, in his very wallet, the calling card  of  the KGB’s top Latin American agent, Nikolai Leonov.

Though all of the above had been repeatedly reported in Cuba’s press for over a year, none of these intriguing data seemed to fit the New York Times’ category of:  “all the news that’s fit to print.” And this was smack in the middle of the hottest years of the Cold War.

“Why has our profession, through its general silence — or only spasmodic protest — helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt?” laments Raines in his Post article.

Apparently,  a truly world class paper’s “style of journalism” should serve to make it truly “trustworthy” as a propaganda arm for a Stalinist regime’s KGB–trained secret police; getting its marching orders, then hunting-down and character-assassinating those on the Communist regime’s enemies-list. To wit:

One day in May 1959, only five months into Castro’s revolution, proclaimed as “democratic and anti-communist” by the New York Times, Castro’s own Air Force Chief, Major Pedro Diaz-Lanz begged to differ. He told his friend Eddie Ferrer, “I’ve got to tell the Americans and the world what’s going on here and start the fight against these communists. Everybody seems asleep!”

A week later Diaz-Lanz resigned his post and declared publicly that Castro’s civilian government was a hollow sham, nothing but a front (maintained with the then invaluable assistance of the New York Times) for Soviet-trained Communists who were running the show behind the scenes, especially in the crucial functions of the military and police. Diaz-Lanz then bundled his wife and kids onto a small boat and escaped to Miami just ahead of a firing squad.

And he was smeared. ”Sources (Castro or his henchmen) tell me that Major Diaz-Lanz was removed from his office for incompetence, extravagance and nepotism,” continued Herbert Matthews’ front-page article in the New York Times on July, 16 1959 (the very day following Diaz-Lanz’ testimony!)  “Fidel Castro is not only NOT a Communist,” continued the New York Times front-page story, “he’s decidedly ANTI-communist.”

And Castro’s U.S. propaganda minions were just warming up. The New York Times had sounded her bugle. Now the rest of the media pack rushed in behind her (remember, this was 1959), yapping and howling and wagging their tails, panting to join the hunt. They were all too eager for a chance to mob and maul a man who risked his life and went stone-broke to warn America about what turned out to be the gravest threat in her history.

“It’s an outrage that Congress should give a platform for a disaffected Cuban adventurer to denounce the Cuban revolution as Communist!” barked Walter Lippmann a few days later in The New York Herald Tribune. “It would be an even greater mistake even to intimate (italics mine) that Castro’s Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite,” Lippmann stressed a week later in a Washington Post.

Lippmann’s Pulitzer Prize the year before, by the way, noted “his distinction as a farsighted and incisive (italics mine) analyst of foreign policy.”

Now we have the Times — in the post-Raines era — touting Obamacare by promoting Cuba’s equivalent.

“If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba’s,” wrote Nicholas Kristof in a Jan. 2005 New York Times editorial,  “we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year. Yes, Cuba’s. Babies are less likely to survive in America…(than in Cuba)”

Two years later, while reviewing Michael Moore’s “Sicko”, the Times’ Anthony DePalma handled the healthcare claims from Castro’s propaganda ministry (via Michael Moore) almost exactly as the Times handled Castro’s claims regarding Pedro Diaz-Lanz.
“I know Americans tend to be skeptical,” DePalma quoted Dr. Robert N. Butler, president of the International Longevity Center, “but health and education are two achievements of the Cuban revolution, and they deserve some credit….”

“Universal health care has long given the Cuban regime bragging rights,” concluded DePalma.

If the New York Times and Howell Raines were capable of shame, they might consider an apology to Fox News.