A Shredding

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal literally shreds AP “reporter” Will Weisert’s piece on Cuba this week:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 12:33 p.m. EDT

Red Alert
Will Weissert, Havana correspondent of the Associated Press, takes a tough, skeptical look at the government he has been assigned to cover. Well, no, he doesn’t. Actually it’s a puff piece:

“Fidel: 80 More Years,” proclaim the good wishes still hanging on storefront and balcony banners months after Cubans celebrated their leader’s 80th birthday. Fidel Castro may be ailing, but he’s a living example of something Cubans take pride in–an average life expectancy roughly similar to that of the United States.

And if the CIA says it, it must be true:

Cuba’s average life expectancy is 77.08 years–second in Latin America after Puerto Rico and more than 11 years above the world average, according to the 2007 CIA World Fact Book.

It says Cuban life expectancy averages 74.85 years for men and 79.43 years for women, compared with 75.15 and 80.97 respectively for Americans.

Weissert doesn’t tell us the source of the CIA’s information. Do these numbers come from Cuba’s totalitarian regime, and if so, shouldn’t we automatically take them with a grain of salt? There are some obvious questions a serious reporter might want to ask about these numbers. The most obvious one: Do they include people who die trying to escape?

Two years ago we took the New York Times’s Nick Kristof to task for a bogus claim that the U.S. infant-mortality rate is no better than Cuba’s and far worse than those of other advanced countries. It turns out the reason for this is that American physicians are alone in making heroic efforts to save premature infants, who in other countries would be discarded and never even be recorded as having been born. The higher prevalence of death at age zero would have a downward effect on America’s life expectancy.

Just how biased is Weissert’s piece in favor of Cuba’s communist dictatorship? Consider this quote:

“Sometimes you have all you want to eat and sometimes you don’t,” said Raquel Naring, a 70-year-old retired gas station attendant. “But there aren’t elderly people sleeping on the street like other places.”

If an old American lady told a reporter, “Sometimes you have all you want to eat and sometimes you don’t,” is there any doubt he would write a story bewailing our country’s shocking neglect of the elderly, poor and hungry? Why are American journalists more favorably disposed toward an America-hating communist personality cult than their own country?

H/T Lee.

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