"In all essentials, Castro's battle for Cuba was a media public relations campaign, fought in New York and Washington." (Paul Johnson, Modern Times)
“Foreign reporters, preferably American, were much more valuable to us than any military victory. Much more valuable than rural recruits for our guerrilla force, were American media recruits to export our propaganda.”(Che Guevara in his diaries)
Castro and Che had it easy back then. The U.S. media recruits for their PR campaign in Washington and New York came in only one model. To wit:
"Fidel Castro is humanist, a man of many ideals including those of liberty, democracy and social justice. (Herbert Matthews, New York Times, Feb. 1957.)
“Castro is honest, and an honest government is something unique in Cuba. Castro is not himself even remotely a Communist.” (Newsweek, April 1959)
"It would be a great mistake even to intimate that Castro's Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite." (Walter Lippmann, Washington Post July, 1959)
Arthur Gardner and Earl Smith were the two U.S. ambassadors to Cuba who warned about Castro’s covert Communism (and thus lost their jobs.) In 1960 they testified under oath to the Media/State Department collusion and campaign that brought Castro to power:
Senator DODD. You have been quoted, Mr. Gardner, as referring to, "Castro worship" in the State Department in 1957. ... you are quoted as saying you fought all the time with the State Department over whether Castro merited the support or friendship of the United States. Would you explain....
Mr Gardner: "I feel it very strongly, that the State Department was influenced, first, by those stories by (the New York Times') Herbert Matthews, and soon (support for Castro) became kind of a fetish with them."
Senator Dodd: (in preparation for his post) your successor as Ambassador to Cuba, Earl Smith was actually (sent by his State Dept. superiors) to be briefed by New York Times' Herbert Matthews?
Mr. GARDNER. "Yes, that is right."
Senator Eastland: "Mr Smith, you had been warning the State Department that Castro was a Marxist?'
Mr. Smith: "Yes, sir....
Senator Eastland: "Would you say that the American Government then, including all of its agencies, was largely responsible for bringing Castro to power?"
Mr Smith: "The State Department played a large part in bringing Castro to power. The press, and other Government agencies (CIA), members of Congress are also responsible..”
Believe it or not the 1960 presidential debates were mostly about foreign policy, Cuba and Fidel Castro in particular. In wistful moments I imagine Breitbart, Limbaugh, Townhall, Fox News , etc. on the U.S. media scene in the late 1950's, vetting away. You have to think Castro and his media auxiliaries could not have gotten away with dictating the narrative. 100,000 Cuban lives might have been saved, and millions of Cubans spared mass larceny, slavery and torture:
"Mega Dittos, Rush. We listen down here in Havana, pick it up from Miami. Love your show."
"Thank you, Ambassador Smith. That's quite an honor, sir. Now regarding this amazing report we saw on Townhall this morning where you claim Fidel Castro's people, the so-called rebels, tried to assassinate you, the U.S. ambassador to Cuba? And this is the bunch our State Department backs?!"
"We have very credible evidence, Rush. And I’ve made it available to the New York Times, AP, Reuters and CBS people down. But they all refuse to report it. We got a very detailed report from police sources down here that Castro's people were plotting to assassinate me in order to create an international incident. I've been talking to dozens of very knowledgeable Cubans and they've convinced me beyond doubt this Castro fella is gonna be big trouble if he takes over. He's a gangster and a terrorist and from way back, from his college days. He has several murders to his record from his college day. And Soviet ties going back to the late 40's. It’s alarming. But they can’t get anyone in our media to even mention this stuff...."
"Good heavens, Ambassador Smith! -- Folks, are you hearing this?..Heard that, Mr Snerdley?!... Then what's all this in the New York Times and CBS about the Cuban "Robin Hood," the Cuban "Thomas Jefferson” etc, I mean remembering Walter Duranty we were already a little suspicious, but THIS....!
"It's a snow job, Rush, all smoke and mirrors. This Herbert Matthews guy from the New York Times has a long record of shilling for Communists, he did it during the Spanish Civil War, playing up the Communists as "democrats, agrarian reformers,” the whole bit. And this Robert Taber fellow from CBS is even worse. I've talked to dozens of Cubans who knew Fidel Castro from childhood. They're all worried. They can't for the life of them understand why so many in our government seem smitten by him."
"Pretty alarming, Ambassador Smith. And we just saw on Breitbart TV that the U.S. is slapping an arms embargo on the Cuban Government, in order to weaken their fight against these Castro rebels! Mr Ambassador, I'm no diplomat, but how much sense does THAT make? I mean, who's behind this crazy stuff? Hope you'll excuse me Ambassador Smith, but I just can't for the life of me understand why we seem to be opening the way for these communists and strewing flowers in their path. Makes no sense....."
"Welcome to Hannity, friends. Tonight we have Mr. Arthur Gardner, former ambassador to Cuba before he was replaced by the current ambassador Earl Smith. Interestingly, Mr. Gardner's warnings about Fidel Castro and his rebel cohorts are identical to those of Ambassador Smith's that we heard on Rush's show this morning and read at Townhall. Ambassador Garner has an amazing report, that we just read in Townhall, alleging that the State Department's chief of Caribbean affairs--the people in our government, who we pay with our hard-earned tax dollars to study the Cuban situation today...well, it turns out this career desk chief at Foggy Bottom was--stand back for this one, folks--he was a Cuban Communist party member in the 1930's. Now he's the U.S. official overseeing our Cuba policy!"
"That's exactly right, Sean. Crazy as it sounds. I hear from sources that he's the one who pressed for the arms embargo against Batista. His name is William Wieland and he's very close to Herbert Matthews of the New York Times, so obviously they’re keeping his background information closely under wraps, despite the number of people who are trying to bring it to light. In the '30s this Wieland fellow had dual citizenship and went under the name of Guillermo Arturo Montenegro when active in the Cuban Communist party. For certain, Fidel's brother Raul and his sidekick Che Guevara are long-time Communists. Everyone --except our state Department and CIA-- seems to know that!"
(The italicized segments above are obviously fictionalized, but based on fully-documented historical items.)
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.