Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Sun-Post's Rebecca Wakefield Polishes Oscar Corral's Apple Again

Beware of the wrath of the gods, but be even more wary of their humor. Their wrath can sometimes be anticipated; it thunders from afar, but it thunders. Their humor, however, flies above our heads and drops copious guano on us when we least expect it. Such was Oscar Corral's unhappy case. The instrument of the gods in Corral's case was the Sun-Post's Rebecca Wakefield, who wrote a worshipful profile of Oscar Corral in her paper just 3 weeks before Corral allegedly directed his charm and $50 at a teenage prostitute, who was no doubt more cautious of Corral's intentions than the gullible Wakefield. I've already summarized Wakefield's story and I don't think I can improve upon it: "Intrepid ace reporter takes on Miami's Cuban extremists and becomes martyr-in-waiting".

Wakefield portrayed Corral as a paragon of journalistic ethics. As it turns out, however, his personal ethics left a lot to be desired; and, of course, what we are as humans impacts what we are as journalists, clowns or salesmen. One would suppose that were Wakefield to write a follow-up of her story she would make that the motiff. But her judgment, like Corral's or anybody else's in the Third Estate, is infallible and not subject to reassessment or second thoughts.

When she again mentioned Corral's name, two weeks after his non-alleged arrest, it was on a blog called Urban Squall where she glossed over Corral's conduct and her own shameless puffery and concentrated instead on a peripheral player in the Miami Moonlighters story, the cartoonist José Varela, who had his own name besmirched by Corral's story because he had at one time accepted a $200 honorarium for an appearance on Radio Martí. No doubt this contributed to his later actions at 1 Herald Plaza. His issues with the paper were not precipitated by financial or marital problems, as Wakefield and everybody else speculated at the time; but, rather, had a great deal to do with his disgust at the institutional corruption which he witnessed there. As he revealed in a comment on the Review of Cuban American Blogs:

"Manuel, you are not far from the truth with what you wrote in the last the paragraph ['The only explanation I can find for what amounts to a cover-up by the Miami media is this: perhaps all the media in Miami are replete with adulterers who pay to fornicate, luckier but no less depraved than Oscar Corral, and this was just a can of worms that nobody could afford to open.] They cover up for one another because there is just too much shit going down. An undercover cop caught one of their number masturbating in a public restroom; he's still a bigwig at Diario las Américas. Another character, who's on the State of Florida's Registry of Sexual Predators, was removed as managing editor at the time of my incident for appearances' sake. The editor had moral problems also with two female employees; he is still at the job but one of the women (now his wife) was removed to avoid a conflict of interests. In short, the flawed humans who work in the third estate in Miami are as subject to moral turpitude as the very power that they wield is susceptible to corruption. No-show jobs, the opportunistic assignment of little columns to the favored few, the allocation of funds for overseas assignments that are little more than paid vacations and for conferences and conventions in exotic locales like Brazil — all this is also part of the endemic corruption that prevails there. Corrollo used to tell me when he was mayor that they were all "influence peddlers." And that's only the top of the iceberg; underneath there are even more perverse things to be found. It's hard to say it because it may appear that in doing so I am besmirching Miami's reputation; but, in fact, there is another Miami which is deserving of honor, the Miami to which my grandparents and parents (now deceased) belonged, who eaked out an honest living in factories, tomato canneries and gas stations from dawn to dusk in order to be able to raise their kids and give them an education. Miami is saved by such noble and hardworking people. It's unfortunate that "Granma" uses the other perverse ones to generalize about Miami."

Wakefield's post centered on an ingenious cartoon Varela drew in the wake of Corral's arrest for solicitation, which RCAB also reproduced. The cartoon shows Corral impressing the teenage prostitute by assuring her that he's paying her with money received from The Miami Herald, not Radio Marti or TV Marti, which causes her to exclaim: "Wow, what ethics!" It really is a little masterpiece, encapsulating in a few trenchant words a year's coverage of the Moonlighters story in light of recent revelations about Corral's own extracurricular activities.

Wakefield, however, did not make the message of Varela's cartoon the focus of her blogpost. She ignored the topical story and preferred to concentrate on José Varela's troubles at The Herald in Nov. 2006, which matter has been settled already in the most satisfactory manner imaginable to him. If not a complete vindication of Varela's actions, the two days' probation which he received for barricading himself in a Nuevo Herald editor's office is as close as one can get to judicial vindication short of actual acquittal.

She should, perhaps, have focused on the fact that Corral's arrest on prostitution charges confirms what Varela had been alleging all the while and everybody had been scoffing at, namely, that the deans and doyens of American journalism, who demand the strictest morality and ethics from everybody else, especially politicians, hold themselves above all moral and ethical rules, as a law unto themselves. This is a truth that needed to be said, although it was better illustrated in Varela's cartoon than in his desperate act. Yet we would sooner excuse his desperation than Corral's hypocrisy. It is, of course, otherwise with Corral's apologist Rebecca Wakefield.


Vana said...

A paragon of journalistic ethics..LMAO...what of his other ethics, they cannot be that good, when he has no problem paying a teenager mind you, to have sex with him, that Wakefield woman mentions Oscar's pecadillo as allegedly arrested for prostitution, and went on to attack Varela, poor woman she's so confused

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Women, as a rule, have very little sympathy for men who frequent prostitutes and absolutely abhor married men who do, thereby putting in danger the health and even the lives of their wives. That Ms. Wakefield saw nothing to censure in Corral's conduct, just as she had nothing critical to say about him in her previous profile of him in the Sun-Post, shows an partiality towards him that mere professional courtesy cannot alone explain. What it is founded upon I do not know and will not speculate.

Suffice it to say that Corral, I suspect, was blind to his opportunities, which is perhaps the reason that he ended up with a professional rather than an amateur.

jose varela said...

Manuel, thanks you for your ethic posture in this "Corral affair". This is my comment posted(in that blog) to Rebecca's article about me.
Rebecca, even when you said I had marital problems and I am nut, I never tried to pay prostitutes to fill my sex "nuty" desires (as Mr. Corral did weeks ago). More than that... my wife and I are now back together and in better relationship-shape. Also I have two children (a 13 years old daughter and a 8 years old son) that the Florida law lets under my protection and not under the protection of Mr. Benigno Dou, a sexual predator that was one of my editors at the time I was with my toy machine-gun in the Herald newsroom (trying to get rid of him for the sake of the rest of my co-employees). Anyways, I like the way you write about me. It's very ethical. Sincerely, Jose Varela.