Apparently, Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s critique of Ray Suarez’ PBS piece on Castro’s health care system stung him not only a bit, but a lot. In a rambling and disjointed rebuttal on the PBS News Hour website, Suarez attempted to defend his Castro propaganda-laden report by citing instances where opposing views were presented, but the rebuttal quickly degenerated into a personal attack on O’Grady.
To refute one of the central themes of the series of reports, that Cuba manages to achieve broadly based results that compare favorably to those in other developing countries Ms. O’Grady offers … silence. Oh yes, and anecdotes. Her op-ed includes plenty of anecdotes, and quotes from published reports now many years old. For years I’ve been told anecdotes are not data. I can only assume Ms. O’Grady has not gotten that memo.
Putting aside for a moment the personal attack on Ms. O’Grady’s journalistic integrity, Suarez seems to be under the impression that there is nothing journalistically wrong with disseminating propaganda as long as you throw in some opposing views. This is what he apparently perceives to be “balance,” except that you can never balance lies with truths. A lie and a truth exist on different planes, and no amount of truths could ever elevate a lie to the same level. When you report lies, and give them the same weight as truths, you are not only violating logic, you are violating your own integrity.
Returning to the attack on O’Grady, Suarez continues to blur that line between a lie and a truth. While going to great lengths to sarcastically berate Ms. O’Grady’s use of anecdotes, he then defends himself by using questionable and unproven evidence. In other words, anecdotal evidence.
One aspect of Cuban life we emphasized were the strong results, affirmed by international organizations and research, in many of the key metrics used when assessing the overall health of a country. Cuba has, for a country of its income, very high life expectancy. Cuba has, for a country of its income, low infant mortality. Cuba has, for a country of its income, low rates of infectious disease. On these measures, Ms. O’Grady is silent. As silent as she is about the presence of critics of the Cuban government and system in the series.
Ray Suarez is quite aware that any research assessing Cuba’s health by any international organization is at best, unreliable. The Castro dictatorship, in its nearly fifty-two year history, has never allowed any outside organization or group to see or examine the actual health related data or statistics the regime has compiled. All the information used in these reports by “international organizations” to arrive at their conclusions is information provided by the regime. A regime that is well known and infamous for its propensity to lie, cheat, and steal. For Suarez to claim as if it were an indisputable and proven fact that Cuba has relatively high life expectancies, low infant mortality rates, and low rates of infectious diseases, is beyond irresponsible journalism, it is downright propaganda. But this takes us back to the crux of Ray Suarez’ problem: his absurd premise that lies can be balanced with truths.
Ray Suarez can kick and scream all he wants, and he can try to belittle and call into question the integrity of respected journalists, but the fact remains that he got busted. No matter how many insults he hurls at Mary O’Grady or the Wall Street Journal, it does not change the fact the he allowed himself to be used as a stooge for the Castro regime.
The truth hurts, Ray, and no amount of lies will lessen that sting.