10 Miami Herald journalists on US gov’t payroll

In a way I think it is unfortunate that this story is about Cuba, because being about Cuba means that a lot of people just aren’t going to want to hear it. But it is something that should be well understood.

10 journalists working for the Miami Herald and its Spanish-Language sister paper were discovered to be accepting large sums of money from the US government to write articles aimed at undermining the Cuban government. Now it is good to get more definitive news about US activities in this area, but don’t let the Cuba angle obscure the fact that this is a story about the US government directly interfering with the press. Now I suppose you could say that freedom means being able to accept money from whomever you want for whatever purpose you want, but the expression “free press” generally means something a little different.

Editor and Publisher covered the story well. The BBC’s coverage pointed out the fact that the Cuban government has claimed for many years that US journalists covering Cuba were in the pay of the US government. An interesting tidbit from this article: on Argentine television, Fidel Castro directly confronted his interviewer, Juan Manuel Cao, then a a reporter for a Miami television station, asking him if he were in the pay of the US government. Cao denied the allegation, certainly making Castro look a little batty. Now Cao has admitted being in the pay of the US government for his Cuba reporting, saying, “I would do it for free. But the regulations don’t allow it. I charge symbolically, below market prices.” Reporters were paid tens of thousands of dollars for their service to the US government.

8 comments on “10 Miami Herald journalists on US gov’t payroll

  1. Rory, this is important also because it IS about Cuba. So these reporters, at least some of them, on the pay of the US government, will lose their jobs. Can you imagine what the situation would be if they had secretly been on the payroll of the CUBAN government? Based on US law, losing their jobs would have been the least of their problems. They would be facing prison terms.

    Yet this is just what the Cuban government is confronting, with these so-called “independents” being funded by the US government. These are two sides of the same coin, two implementations of the same policy: propaganda with the goals of destabilization and regime change.

  2. So, if I understand correctly, Ann believes any journalist in the United States who receives funds from another government should be arrested and prosecuted, perhaps sentenced to 20 years in jail? Actually I don’t believe that would be illegal here. At least I know journalists who work for foreign news services.

  3. It doesn’t read to me that Ann is saying that “any journalist in the US who receives funds from another government…” I believe she’s saying “receives funding secretly for the purpose of planting stories designed to push a particular political or policy agenda.” That’s fundamentally different from being on the payroll of a foreign news service. (Whether it is legal or not in the US, I don’t claim to know).

  4. Of course, the independent journalists in Cuba cannot plant stories in the Cuban press since all the press is under the control of the Cuban government and Communist Party. Their alternative is to start up their own underground newspaper within the country or to write for the foreign press.

    I have seen articles by non-Cuban citizens in Granma, the official party newspaper of Cuba, mainly denouncing Cuban dissidents and those who support them. If these non-Cubans are paid for their articles, would they be violating the laws of their own country?

  5. Juan Michael Cao has admitted being in the pay of the US government for his Cuba reporting, saying, “I would do it for free. But the regulations don’t allow it.”

    What regulations is he talking about?

  6. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either. I think it’s very plausible that he was misquoted or mistranslated, and also plausible that he was talking nonsense. However, the quotation makes his attitude clear.

  7. If I understand correctly, these Florida reporters were essentially moonlighting for Radio and TV Marti (U.S. government owned) and were paid for their work for these stations; and it was because of their moonlighting that they were fired. I don’t get the impression from the two linked reports that they were paid by the U.S. government for the stories they wrote for the Miami Herald and its sister language Spanish newspaper.

  8. Speaking of Cuba (again – and again – and again), I would recommend a book by Roberto Fernández for those who haven’t read it titled Holy Radishes! It IS fiction – satirical fiction – but gives good insight into the politics and dynamics of the cuban american situation – which in real life sometimes seem too bizare to be real. I also recommend this book for library collections.

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