CNN & The Castro E-Mail

0220castro.jpgWere CNN employees told to soften their coverage of Fidel Castro‘s resignation? The right-wing blogosphere has been running riot over a memo that was reputedly sent to CNN staffers:

From: Flexner, Allison
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 7:46 AM
To: *CNN Superdesk (TBS)
Cc: Neill, Morgan; Darlington, Shasta
Subject: Castro guidance

Some points on Castro – for adding to our anchor reads/reporting:

* Please say in our reporting that Castro stepped down in a letter he wrote to Granma (the communist party daily), as opposed to in a letter attributed to Fidel Castro. We have no reason to doubt he wrote his resignation letter, he has penned numerous articles over the past year and a half.

* Please note Fidel did bring social reforms to Cuba – namely free education and universal health care, and racial integration. in addition to being criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.

* Also the Cuban government blames a lot of Cuba’s economic problems on the US embargo, and while that has caused some difficulties, (far less so than the collapse of the Soviet Union) the bulk of Cuba’s economic problems are due to Cuba’s failed economic polices. Some analysts would say the US embargo was a benefit to Castro politically – something to blame problems on, by what the Cubans call “the imperialist,” meddling in their affairs.

* While despised by some, he is seen as a revolutionary hero, especially with leftist in Latin America, for standing up to the United States.

Any questions, please call the international desk.


So is the memo authentic? There’s a CNN-employed Allison Flexner on Facebook who has worked out of Havana and Miami for CNN. Morgan Neill is CNN’s Havana bureau chief and Shasta Darlington is a CNN Havana correspondent.

What it all comes down to, we think, is something quite simple: access, access, access. CNN is the only American television news network with a permanent bureau in Cuba. When the inevitable happens and Castro passes on, that Havana bureau will be — obviously — an important property. If those affiliated with the Havana bureau want to make sure the mammoth news network stays on the Cuban government’s good side vis-a-vis coverage, it’s only in their natural self-interest.

Personally, we just think they’re making up for accidentally killing Castro all those years ago. But that’s just us.