Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oscar Corral: The Man Without Principles

Oscar Corral is the most despicable of all Cuban-American bloggers besides whom Val Prieto and Henry Gómez are monuments to disinterested patriotism and good sense. Oscar is the reluctant blogger, forced by The Miami Herald to run its house blog on Cuba, but hating every moment of it and absenting himself as much as possible from the irksome task. For years his blog literally ran itself; his only contribution being to post the occasional newspaper article while letting his blog's habitues go at it with one another in what was once the most entertaining free-for-all in Cuban-American blogdom. Thanks to his indifference and the relative freedom it afforded, it was not unusual to see threads with more than 400 comments, something which few national blogs can boast and no local ones. This, which would have meant everything to other bloggers, meant nothing to Oscar. If anything, it only increased the headache for him.

When things got out of control as inevitably things would, Oscar would let the proceedings continue unchecked as if deriving a smarmish pleasure from the havoc he was wreaking simply by making himself the least conspicuous presence on his blog. But this game could not continue forever and eventually the lunatics did take over the asylum, converting Miami's Cuban Connection into, of all things, a covert for pedophiles to champion their lifestyle, with communiqués from NAMBLA and more such nonsense. Eventually all the regulars quit in disgust, even its most famous commenter, the irreplaceable John Longfellow, who was many things but not a pervert.

Eventually Oscar had no recourse but to institute so-called "moderation," which finally succeeded in bringing all this shenanigans to a stop, even if it all but killed his blog as "moderation" (i.e. preëmptive censorship) always will. It was a kind of poetic justice that his blog finally imploded at precisely the moment when Oscar became victim and facilitator of the biggest journalistic hoax that was ever perpetrated on or by a reporter from The Miami Herald. Having written thousands of words on this subject — more certainly than Oscar wrote — I do not want to re-visit it here but have no choice.

One day, shortly before the implosion, there appeared a note from Oscar on Miami's Cuban Connection announcing that he was going "underground" to cover an important story on Cuba. Most of his readers assumed that he was on a clandestine mission to Cuba, the kind that Herald reporters occasionally undertake because they are not normally granted access to the island. In fact, Oscar's "secret mission" became a kind of joke on his blog — "Waiting for Corral-Godot." After a month or so, Oscar finally resurfaced to break his long-awaited story, which led to the arbitrary discharge of three of his colleagues at The Herald and smeared at least 60 other Cuban-American journalists by the time it had run its course.

Their supposed offense? They had moonlighted for Radio Martí while in the employ of The Herald. It was not reported in the story, however, that The Herald not only knew about it, but had actually reported that fact years before without the least hint of disapproval. Moreover, there was no internal Herald policy prohibiting it, though the editors attempted to improvise one after the fact, which was eventually exposed for the sham it was. None of the Cuban journalists, or, indeed, any reporter at The Herald had signed an exclusive contract at the time of their employment. All, therefore, including the Cubans, were free to proceed as they saw best. Nonetheless the Cubans had obtained the permission of the late El Nuevo Herald editor before appearing on Radio Martí. None of this was reported in The Herald's original story and would only slowly come out under the prodding of others. Foremost in exposing the machinations at The Herald was Henry Gómez's Herald Watch, perhaps the highest public service ever done by a Miami blog.

Oscar's story, which was widely reported by the MSM, as one would expect any story to be that discredits Cuban exiles, began to unravel when it was discovered that thousands of (non-Cuban) journalists had engaged in the same practice over the last 56 years, that is, since the very inception of public broadcasting, including the patron saint of American journalists, Edward R. Murrow, who even headed the government's foreign broadcasting agency in the Kennedy administration.

As a result of these revelations and others no less embarrassing, there developed a schism between The Miami Herald and its sister publication El Nuevo Herald, which, unintentionally and for the first time in decades, transformed Miami into a two-newspaper town, both housed under the same roof and receiving the same pay check.

In the end, the fired reporters were rehired by the McClatchy corporation with half-hearted apologies, and The Herald's publisher Jesús Díaz and its managing editor Tom Fiedler departed the paper (more or less voluntarily). Oscar, however, was unscathed by the scandal, though he was subjected to a great deal of criticism from other quarters, which he received with the same dispassion as had characterized his demeanor at Miami's Cuban Connection.

Only a few people know besides Oscar and his editors that he was the witless agent of a conspiracy hatched up in Havana to discredit Cuban-American journalists and the entire Cuban-American community. His reflexive disdain for anything and everything that his parents' countrymen have done or might do to promote Cuba's freedom made him an easy mark for every slanderer who wished to use him to malign us. He even cultivated such acquaintances in the hope that they would provide him with the materia prima that he needed to advance his career beyond the Miami "ghetto." Oscar Corral has big dreams, ready ears and a none too facile pen and might even have obtained his desire if he had even one ounce of discernment and could tell when he's being used and when he's using others.

The Miami Herald, which can always rely on him to do its dirty work without too many prompts as he is the consummate "company man," has assigned Oscar, of all people, to the Posada Carriles story, as if anyone could possibly believe that he could bring anything to it but a lack of objectivity and malicious intent. In his reportage on Posada's release on bond, Oscar seemed almost giddy with excitement at the 80-year-old's mistreatment at the hands of federal authorities and the ordeals which he has thus far faced and the many more which are still ahead of him for being something that Oscar never was and never will be -- a man of principles. To an opportunist like Oscar Corral principles are something to scoff at; and sacrifice, well, sacrifice is not even in the picture. Never has there been such a disconnect between the subject of a story and the reporter covering it.

This shall be the subject of a future post (most likely to appear tomorrow).


Agustin Farinas said...

I visited that blog once and found a preponderance of pro-castro, pro-communist, and anti-americans people making such comments, for a minute there I thought I was on the Granma Blog! The same people commenting over and over again about how wonderful the Cuban Revolution was and how they hated the USA for their actions against it, etc. Well you know the type. There is one special bozo there that should move to Cuba, the guy who signs with the moniker "leftside". Their rantings are so pathetic to make one want to puke. Corral's actions with the Herald reporters were so underhanded and unworthy, that it was no coincidence that the Mesa Redonda program just happened to raise the same accusations just a few days before. Coincidence? I think not.

Jewbana said...

I gave up on the Herald, don't buy it, don't read it. Not even good enough to scoop the poop with!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


There you are wrong: it will always be good enough to scoop poop. I only regret that I don't live in Miami and can't use it for that and other allied purposes.

barali said...

To live in United States of America is a wonderful privilege. The liberty and freedom expressions made this country #1 but at 90 miles in my destroyed Cuba the people are in yield, death, etc., for use that. All Castro infiltrate people in USA are using our freedom expressions that our liberties permit in our civilized society. They are trying to bring here all negative ideas but only the ignorant people believe it. God Bless America forever. Never I will be accomplice with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara crime! To see a crime in silence is to be an accomplice. Contemplar un crimen en silencio es convertirse en cómplice. José Martí



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