Faustian Bargain – UPDATED
From the The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy:
(FOW-stee-uhn) Faust, in the legend, traded his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge. To “strike a Faustian bargain” is to be willing to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge or power.
I have always claimed that the international media that has reporters officially stationed in Cuba have made a Faustian Bargain. The have made a deal with the devil, trading their journalistic souls for the opportunity to be in Cuba.
I never understood why the decision makers at places like the Associated Press, Reuters, CNN would allow Cuba to set the kind of conditions that it does when they would loudly denounce any other country in the world that tried the same thing.
The recent expulsion from Cuba of foreign journalists that have been deemed as "too negative" by the Castro regime is OBVIOUS proof that that quid pro quo exists between the international press and the Cuban government. Presumably any journalists that haven't been asked to leave have not been judged to be "too negative." On that grounds any report they file should be suspect.
Imagine if the White House decided to expel a foreign journalist because he was "too negative." What would happen? A justified international outrage would follow, that's what. But again outside of us interested Cuba observers this will probably create not even a ripple of reaction. That's because of the paternalistic and racist attitude I alluded to earlier this week. It's OK to accept for Cubans what we would never accept in the democratic west.
Why would any self respecting journalist or journalistic organization accept conditions under which it is essentially censored? What is the big story that they are so afraid to miss that they are willing to exchange their credibility to cover it? It's often been speculated that the big story is the death of fidel castro. But honestly what's the big deal? We all know what's going to happen when that day comes. The regime will mobilize the army, step up the repression, and put on a huge kabuki theater production of a state funeral. Are these supposedly unbiased media outlets really just vying for a preferred camera position at a funeral?
I can't believe that these resourceful journalists, the kind of people that broke the watergate story, can't come up with creative ways to report about Cuba without having credentialed reporters there operating under strict guidelines set forth by the regime.
The Miami New Times, a free, alternative weekly newspaper in Miami, found a way. They had an undercover journalist in Cuba reporting the TRUTH about the situation there. That reporter did more good reporting about in a couple of weeks than CNN has done in the ten years it has has had a bureau there.
It's time to put pressure on these journalistic organizations to start reporting the truth about Cuba regardless of the consequences. It's time to shame them into doing what should have been doing since the beginning.
UPDATE: I was just reading an AP report about the journalist expulsions written by Anita Snow, another one who has made a Faustian Bargain, and almost vomited when I read this:
The government — like many around the world — has long used the annual reaccreditation process to review the work of international journalists.
It's true, I'm sure, in some countries. Countries that most people don't think very highly of. Why didn't Ms. Snow mention a few of those "many" countries? This is, again, a way to soften the message. It's like saying "well this practice isn't really that uncommon." Again I want to know which countries she's speaking about. That way I'll know to take any reports coming out of those countries with an even bigger grain of salt than I normally do because by definition the they are self censored.