Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cuba? Ideology? I'm shocked!

Go Pundit Go has raised questions about Reuters using Marc Frank as its Havana correspondent, questions picked up by Instapundit and Newsbusters. Frank apparently has a background working for the People’s Daily World, a publication of the Communist Party, USA. While GPG does allow that Frank’s “current articles are not explicitly pro-Cuban to the point of journalist fraud,” it’s clear that all three see a real problem with Reuter’s employing Mr. Frank. Let’s look at what Frank actually wrote that bothered our friends on the right:

Cuba remained calm on Sunday as people engaged in voluntary work, cleaned neighbourhoods and donated blood in Mr Castro’s honour. Throughout the leadership crisis, people have gone about their daily business and enjoyed summer holidays, though there is an unmistakable undercurrent of anxiety over the future without Fidel - the only leader most Cubans have ever known.
GPG declares that this shows Frank has a “soft spot for soft reporting on the people’s paradise of Cuba.” Greg Sheffiled at Newbusters called it a “glowing review.” I wonder if they’ve ever been to Cuba. When you talk to people in Cuba, you find a wide range of opinions about Fidel and the regime. Just like here, Cubans have mixed and nuanced opinions about their government. I have little doubt that since Fidel handed power over to Raul, Cubans have been continuing on with their lives, but are also anxious about the future, regardless of their political leaning. Some of them probably were doing things in Fidel’s honor – other were doing what they needed to get by. And Frank probably saw what he wanted to see. People sweep streets in Havana every day – it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how they feel about el Viejo. As an historian, I always want to know as much as possible about the ideological background of the author of any source I’m using. But the complaints of GPG and the others highlight one of the more ironic developments on the right in recent years – they’ve all become postmodernists. It doesn’t matter what is said, but who says it. If information comes from an ideologically trusted source, like one of the handful of scientists who see no human cause for global warming, then it’s golden. But if it comes from the tens of thousands of scientists who think otherwise, then it’s not to be trusted. Frank’s ideological background does mean we need to read him critically – but then that’s true about everyone we read.

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