SPECIAL Live Blogging
Show intro, “Latin style” music, with video collage including old cars, etc. Open on Matt at El Morro.
Mention of the embargo at the topic. “A hot topic of debate” in both countries. Salary in cuba is 50 cents a day. But “no taxes” and housing is “guaranteed and free.” Literacy is high but “virtually no freedoms” no political opposition [is allowed].
Andrea Mitchell mentions that castro will appear on TV tonight for the first time in an interview setting but controlled conditions. Taped piece mentions young generation whose future won’t be centered on castro. Talks about the embargo with the typical soundbytes. No in depth explanation of why it exists. Secretary Gutierrez says trade with Cuba will cement that system but the some Democrat politician, Arkansas Rep. Marion Berry, was given the last word simply promising that the quickest way to democracy in Cuba is to trade and travel.
Back at ell Morro they discuss the exiles and the property claims. Mitchell is clearly anti-exile. She also says that both governments are secretly talking to avoid Cubans from both sides “hitting the boats” but offers no proof of that statement.
Taped piece: pre-castro Cuba. Casinos, Ricky Ricardo, the Godfather
Mentions crumbling buiildings but calls the embargo a “blockade”
Special Period, tourism, farmers markets. High literacy, and education.
Cubans ke out a “hard scrabble” life. Black market needed to subsist. Housing is guaranteed but sub standard. Transportation is lacking No political dissent. “No es facil.” Lauer says that’s said “not with resignation but with pride.” The implication is that Cubans are united in their resistance to the United States and its embargo.
Matt and Anne discuss the embargo. It’s a actually a “tease” he mentions that the issue is a divisive one and that UN has condemned the embargo every year for years. Says many exiles don’t want embargo lifted until castro is gone and democracy.
Embargo piece from Kerry Sanders. It’s getting hard to keep up but a lot to beef with the coverage. Sanders shows a bottle with a black paste in it that’s supposed to be crude oil that could be a “game changer”
The general POV on the embargo is that American companies are already doing business their but with restrictions. No explanation of what those restrictions are and why they exist. No mention of Cuba’s credit history.
Interview with Cuban official from “Alimport”. This fluent English-speaker denies the accusation that food doesn’t reach the people, his proof is that his wife buys the rice and beans and bread at the store.
Senator Bob Menendez (from Wash) and some Kirby Jones Pres. of US Cuba Trade Assoc. debate the embargo. Lauer asks why Cuba and not China. Menendez says there’s no one-size-fits all policy. Jones says that every country in the world is there and we aren’t so sanctions won’t do anything. Menendez gets the last word and says the embargo legislation has language that permits its lifting when Cuba is free.
What he haven’t seen or heard from Matt Lauer yet
Any explantion of how dissent is supressed (he says its supressed but not the mechanisms of how)
There was a passing mention of reporters without borders but no real discussion on the independent journalists. None of the opposition in Cuba or the political prisoners has been mentioned by name,
7:54 Tease next segment by showing hooting Americans that are in Cuba sitting at a cafe wearing red t-shirts, they are “students, and religious groups”.
WTVJ is just as clueless on Cuba as its mother network. Characterized “La Mesa Redonda” as Cuba’s version of Meet the Press. Said that Castro looks better than before but nowhere “near the condition he was in when would parade around in Cuba’s 90 degree weather” ???????? What’s that supposed to mean?
From in front of the Cathedral, Matt says that Cuba was atheist but now secular with a percentage in the high 40s being Catholic Matt actually says that “Tourism Apartheid” exists in Cuba. That money goes to tourist areas but not to where the citizens live and work. Doesn’t go any deeper than that.
Of course we can’t have a meaningful explanation of anything because we need to give the Crocodile Hunter’s daughter, Bindi Irwin, 8 minutes to talk about her multiple new TV shows.
Obligatory puff piece about “three B’s” (see how clever we are): Baseball, Boxing and Ballet. Matt gives away some Yankee and Red Sox hats at Parque Central. Interview with Cuban ballet dancer.
Juan de Marcos, producer of the Buena Vista social club talks about Cuban music. He said the BVSC sold 12 million albums. I wonder how much of that money went to the musicians. Matt didn’t think to ask. de Marcos claims that for Cubans music is like food. Perhaps it’s a substitute for food.
At this point, 1 hour and 35 minutes into the broadcast, I know more about David Hasselhoff and his book, Bindi Irwin and her THREE new TV shows, and Jerry Springer and his new show (on NBC, of course) than I do about any of Cuba’s dissidents or political prisoners.
8:44 Uh oh, Anne teases a piece about Elian Gonzalez.
8:48 Performance from Los Van Van. Happy Cubans dancing, despite they “hard scrabble” life the lead and the fact that “opposition is not permitted”.
8:51 Matt talks about the travel restrictions and Elian and makes a couple of gross errors. First he says that journalists can go to Cuba “on special occasions” which is not true. Journalists are permitted by THE US GOVERNMENT to go anytime they want, but they must be legitimate full-time journalists. It’s Cuba that restricts the entry of foreign journalists. A way of maintaining leverage over them. In fact Matt does not discuss the 18 months of negotiations that went into getting permission for the Today Show to do this broadcast.
Then on Elian, he says that Elian’s father sued and won his case. Which is not true. Elian had a pending case in a family court and the Clinton administration, for political purposes, decided to invade the Gonzalez home and retreive the child on the grounds that he was an “illegal alien.”
More alarming however was how Matt responded to Anne when she mentioned that it was sad that Elian’s Miami family hadn’t seen him since. He said that it’s part of this “divide between Cuba and the US.” It doesn’t compute in his head the issue here is between fidel castro, his gang of thugs and the Cuban people NOT the US and Cuba.
9:00 AM Matt talks briefly with a Guayabera designer who gives him a guayabera. Matt says he needs to check if it’s a violation of the embargo. Again, he shows his complete ignorance of the actual rules of the embargo, the subject about which he is supposedly reporting.
More analysis later.