Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The "Today Show" Goes to Cuba

Matt Lauer Visits "America's Mysterious, Friendly Neighbors to the South" After 18-Month Quarantine

With Morro Castle as a backdrop, Matt Lauer remarked that the 16th century fortress at the entrance to Havana Harbor had been built to protect the city from pirates, and not skipping a beat, he introduced the subject of the U.S. trade embargo, leaving his viewers to make the implied connection. Because of the embargo (not, of course, the Communist system or the Castros' own venality), wages are low in Cuba (50 cents per day), but that's more than enough for Castro's hapless subjects, because, according to Lauer, there is low unemployment and no homelessness in Cuba, its people pay no taxes but still enjoy the boons of a high literacy rate and free healthcare. Where have we heard that before? Yes, on every U.S. television program ever broadcast from Cuba or documentary filmed there. So much for the expectation that many nourished about more open and less biased coverage of Cuba in the wake of the transition to nowhere.

After commercials, interruptions and a running sideshow of (non-Cuban) freaks, there was a brief interview with a 17-year-old guitar player who asserted that the youth of Cuba are interested in music, not politics. But how could it be otherwise? The Castro regime fulfills all their material needs, leaving them all the time in the world to indulge their artistic pursuits. Later, Lauer would assure us that there is indeed "creative freedom" in Cuba at least in the arts. Matt has obviously never heart of the Padilla trial or Castro's injunction to Cuban writers and artists that "everything was possible within the Revolution but nothing outside it." But who would want to be outside the Revolution anyway? Certainly Lauer gives us no reason to justify such a "snobbish" attitude, and so it must naturally follow that dissent doesn't exist in Cuba; and since dissent doesn't exist there, then it follows naturally too that there must be no dissenters, which, explains, of course, their complete absence from the show.

Next Matt briefly interviews a very haggard-looking Ricardo Alarcón and asks him, "Who is in charge in Cuba today." Finally, a question worth asking; but not, however, a question that Alarcón thinks worth answering and so he doesn't. Lauer, of course, does not take him to task for his evasion, but accepts Alarcon's assurances that everything is running smoothly in Cuba regardless of whom is in charge.

After blaming the trade embargo for Cuba's collapsing infrastructure (as he will for everything negative which he observes on the island), Lauer has a brief interview with Marion Berry. No, not the cocaine sniffing former mayor of Washington DC, but the (white) congressman from Arkansas of the same name. Berry is a rice farmer. His government subsidies are obviously not enough for him. He wants to sell his rice to Cuba, which Lauer noted the U.S. already supplies with 10 percent of its rice imports. That 10 percent covers the needs of Cuba's elite. The other 90 percent consume a rice that has such natural additives as pebbles, talc, dead insects and their excrementa. This rice is imported from Vietnam where it is usually fed to hogs. Still it's good enough for the Cuban people, who before the Revolution imported only China's highest grade rice and consumed more of it than any other people on earth.

After a teaser about a certain Rivero family that leads nowhere, Matt next has the most offensive exchange in the show with correspondent Andrea Mitchell, whose hatred for Cuban exiles is at least as rabid as the unlamented Katie Couric's (is that a job requirement for female reporters in the MSM?). She tells us that the U.S. and Cuba "have a shared interest and are working quietly together to make sure that [in the event of any change in Cuba] Miami people don't hit the boats and Cuban people don't hit the boats." And this is true: the U.S. and Cuba cooperate like allies when it comes to maintaining the status quo in Cuba or curbing the exiles' impulse to change it. In the view of the U.S. and Communist Cuba, Cuban exiles are not Cubans anymore; they are just "Miami people." And what do these Miami people want in Cuba? Is it to rescue their relatives as they did in the Mariel exodus? No, silly. The "Miami people" want their property back. Lauer observes that it is this fear of the "Miami people" which may be keeping Castro in power in Cuba, not, of course, the regime's apparatus of repression. The "Miami people," we might observe, though Lauer does not, have sent more in cash remittances to Cuba over the last 25 years than all the island's properties are worth.

Matt then proceeded to make what is undoubtedly the most telling remark in all his reportage on Cuba -- he referred to the trade embargo as a "blockade" as in "Cuba has persevered in the face of challenges [including] the blockade." This was no doubt a concession to "balanced reporting." You see, by interchangeably using those terms, you demonstrate your impartiality. No you don't. What you demonstrate is that you don't know the meaning of either a "blockade" or an "embargo."

In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, when Stalin made an an unexpected and incredible statement which took everybody's breath away, he usually prefixed it with "As is well-known..." Well, Matt used the same device when he declared with no hint of sarcasm: "We [Americans] know an awful lot about the history of Cuba." He then proceeded to tell us what Americans know (or at least believe they know): "Havana was a playground for tourists and gangsters. It was a period captured in the classic film The Godfather [II]." This was a refreshing admission that Coppola's toxic film is the source for everything that Americans know about pre-Castro Cuba, and, of course, it is a fictional representation which in turn derives its "historical facts" from the Castro regime's own hackneyed propaganda.

More Cuban "history" follows: After the fall of the Soviet Union, Castro called for an "organic revolution," and, as if by magic, farmers' markets sprung up all over the island to supply the deficiencies of "The Special Period." So the fall of Communism actually "benefitted" the Cuban people materially just as every other calamity that has befallen them in the 48 years of Castro's rule. King Midas should have been that good.

We next learn that Cuban grocery stores are filled with American goods. To prove it, Matt's goofer shows bottles of Hunt's Ketchup and Windex purchased in a Cuban store for an extravagant amount, which seems altogether reasonable to Matt, who obviously doesn't do his own shopping. However, the balding wunderkind failed to make the connection that the average Cuban worker earning 50 cents per day (according to him) would have to labor for more than two weeks to buy that $8.00 bottle of ketchup.

And what does he conclude from that $8.00 bottle of ketchup: "A lot of people think that the time has come to end the embargo." Why? So that the Cuban people can buy that $8.00 bottle of ketchup from American capitalists rather than from Fidel? It is wily Fidel who wants the embargo to stay in place, Lauer reasons, supposedly because he gets to sell the people $8.00 bottles of ketchup. So let's thwart Fidel and lift the embargo and Cubans will be introduced to the $7.99 bottle of ketchup.

Next came a debate of sorts -- you know, the kind when the debaters can't address each other directly -- between Sen. Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) and Kirby Jones of the U.S./Cuba Trade Association. Needless to say, Menéndez annihilated Kirby even though Lasuer cut him off when he mentioned jailed political dissidents (the only time they were mentioned in the show). Perhaps Lauer thought that because Sen. Menéndez is a Democrat he would be less "volatile" than Ileana or the Díaz-Balarts. He was wrong. Menendez is a cool character. He didn't miss the opportunity to praise Clinton's Cuba policy, but cut no slack to the opponents of the embargo or to the Castro regime. Kirby Jones, sitting beside Matt, surprised us with the most honest answer that any opponent of the embargo has ever given regarding it: "If this were a worldwide embargo, it would be another thing." Yes, indeed. It would most assuredly be "another thing." The "thing" it would be and the result it would produce can be seen in South Africa, where apartheid was flushed out precisely because all the world's nations banded together to repudiate it through a worldwide embargo. Even the Vatican, a constant critic of the embargo on Cuba, supported the embargo on South Africa.

And speaking of apartheid, Matt acknowledged that it does exist in Cuba. For Matt, however, "tourism apartheid" did not consist of excluding Cubans from hotels, beaches and other facilities which are reserved for foreigners, but, rather, he defined apartheid not as segregation of the natives, but the preference given to maintaining tourist sites in a better state of repair than the buildings inhabited by Cubans. So, in other words, if Castro only handed out paint and brushes, "apartheid" as defined by Lauer would disappear in Cuba.

But even if Castro can't give the Cuban people paint and brushes, he has given them games, that is, baseball, boxing and ballet (of course, Castro introduced all these to Cuba). In fact, "no country in the world has a greater appreciation for the arts than Cuba." This is one of Matt's many elliptical statements. Allow me to complete it: Nor does any country on earth control the arts and the artists as does Communist Cuba; nor does any country exploit artists more, cheat artists more or suppress artistic expression more.

Speaking of the Cubans' love for baseball, Matt remarks that as soon as a boy is born in Cuba his parents want to get him a baseball bat and mitt. Another elliptical statement: Matt does not mention that the average Cuban parent will not be able to satisfy that desire unless he has relatives in Miami.

Matt next extolls Cuban music with all the usual clichés. While interviewing Juan de Marcus, the Cuban producer of the Buena Vista Social Club, Matt actually declares "There is still creative freedom here [in Cuba] for artists." But most of the artists featured in the BVSC had been buried alive by the regime for 40 years and forced to work as laborers and shoeshine boys before an American record producer rescued them from oblivion and made himself and Castro another fortune (the artists themselves receiving little or nothing) from the vaunted sale of 12 million CDs. Marcus, not to be outdone, delivers himself of ths pearl: "Music is like the food for Cuba." Not just like it, but most of it. There followed a performance by Los Van-Van which was my cue to empty my bladder, so I can't critique it.

And, finally, after several plugs, comes Elián, or, rather, he doesn't. He's 13 now and must be going through that teenage "angst" which is best not broadcast. In fact, his angst must out-angst all other adolescent angst. Matt does acknowledge that Elián is a propaganda tool, or, as Matt puts it, "he is being groomed for political office in Cuba." When the host in New York observes that Elián's Miami family has not been allowed to see him since he was returned to Cuba 7 years ago, Matt smirked and actually gobbled, the only word I could find to describe his facial and neck contorsions, which were necessary to prevent him from blurting out what he was really thinking: "The Miami relatives and all Cuban exiles can go to hell." Instead, after he regained his compusure, Matt blamed the distance between Cubans on the island and in exile for this separation. Of course, Fidel, who engineered it, and Juan González, who complied with Castro's orders, are not to blame. Elián's two "fathers" and scary "Uncle" Raúl had nothing to do with it. Matt even told a bold-faced lie when he asserted that Elián's father sued and won custody in U.S. courts. The fact is that the Clinton administration preempted the trial and subverted the justice system by kidnapping Elián at gunpoint and forcibly repatriating him to his "extended family" in Cuba.

The program concludes with Matt being presented with a pure Irish linen guayabera, the kind that was last available in Cuba at El Encanto and which no Cuban can afford or wears today except the capos of the regime. He accepts it with very little graciousness, remarking that it is likely to be seized by "the trade embargo people" on his return to the U.S. owing to that bad, bad embargo.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the historical walk through bullshitville with Matt Lauer. Today Show Castro Sympathizers pin-heads running around cuba broadcasting trash and misleading information as usual.“Get out of Cuba now” Obviously, they don’t know what they are talking about.They don’t get it.About Matt Lauer, If I wanted to listen to a turd speak, I would install a telephone in my toilet.

A wise person once told me that “empty vessels make the most noise.”

Anonymous said...

Gosh;could we please just not give this nut job anymore publicity.I now know why I never watch the today show.

What do you expect from a retard? You get what you get with Matt Lauer. That’s his shtick. That’s what the knuckle-dragging morons who make up lies for his audience. Its theater for the brain-dead.

Vana said...

A very incisive report by you my friend, you say it as it is, as I told Charlie, I only watched it to see the little bit of Havana they showed, not because I thought Matt would make a difference, they the American MSM, just doesn't get it, and they do hate us the exiles, boy how they hate us, why? because we know the real truth, and they of course deny it.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

¡Ya no más!:

Because The Today Show is broadcast to a nationwide audience, it is necessary to dissect and expose Matt Lauer's misrepresentations about Cuba. They cannot be ignored because the messenger is a male bimbo. Behind the messenger stands the U.S. media and all of corporate America.

Besides, by now you should know that I enjoy exposing idiots.

Charlie Bravo said...

I was too upbeat to comment on the Lauer Charade so I linked your analysis, Manuel....

Anonymous said...

Likewise, Manuel I do enjoy exposing idiots as well..I have to tame my sarcasm just a bit..I see..hahahaha

Actually, Manuel you are right on the money, but Matt Lauer still a retarded asswipe that doesn’t know his head from his asshole. “What credibility does this pervert have regarding Cuba?.”

For Laughs:

What do you get when you place Fidel Castro and Matt Lauer on the same stage?

Two morons trying to prove who’s the smartest kid in a two-student special ed class.

Bottom line,folks I do understand the whole BS well....

Albert Quiroga said...

Thank you for your excellent, pointed analysis which spared me the stress and primal rage which would have been the result, if somehow I had overcome my aversion for listening to this propagandistic douche-bag and his choir of crapmeisters. Or as has been said: "Stress is what you get when you have to forego the urge to choke the shit out of someone who badly deserves it." Or something like that.

The Matt Lauers and Katie Courics can only be explained in the context of this excerpt from an interview, in 1983, with former KGB propagandist Yuri Bezmenov he gave to Edward Griffin on "Soviet Disinformation:"

"The demoralization process in the United States is basically completed already for the last 25 years. Actually, it's over fulfilled because demoralization now reaches such areas where not even Comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such tremendous success. Most of it is done by Americans to Americans thanks to lack of moral standards. As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him, even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents and pictures. ...he will refuse to believe it until he's going to receive a kick in his fat bottom. When a military [or Joint Terrorism Task Force] boot crashes his balls, then he will understand, but not before that. That's the tragedy of the situation of demoralization."

This I received via Luís Afonso Assumpção's "Swimming Against The Red Tide" blog. The interview may have been in 1983, but it is still chilling, and, when it comes to "our" MSM characters, such as Lauer et al, completely on the mark. Too bad it would only be Lauer who would have his balls(?) crushed.

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

I admire your endurance, Manny. I can't watch more than 30 seconds of teevee "news" without shrieking, and it keeps me up nights just thinking about its pestilential impact on drooling viewers. Your blow-by-blow account here illustrates why. News my ass.

Agustin Farinas said...

I guess I had a chance to watch the Today show on the Web but I get enough fecal matter here on the tube from the local TV, and that Communist subsidiary of Cubavision called Telesur, so I decided to pass on the chance. After reading your review of Matt Lauer performance this week I am glad I skipped it and watched a Nat Geo program about chimpazees in the wild. It was basically the same, but at least the simians were funnier, did not talk and were more interesting.

Charlie Bravo said...

How fitting, un uniforme de seguroso para Matt Lauer! (la cabrona guayabera)

Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

Matt got me screaming at my TV set. And I'm telling ya I love the HD so you know I had to be mad to yell at it. Why does the media just air reports from the Cuban government without ANY corraboration yet they won't believe a dissident unless he is willing to go on the record and be beaten and jailed by Castro. The media has NO first-hand accounts of the real Cuba- just Cuban government propaganda.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Don't sweat it. Everybody knows that Matt Lauer is a world-class idiot and says it.