Jeffrey Goldberg: Fidel’s trained seal

After publishing his pieces describing his interviews with Fidel Castro, about the best reaction Jeffrey Goldberg could hope for from those who possess even a cursory knowledge of Cuba is a snicker. His sycophantic descriptions of a murderous monster turned loving teddy bear turns the stomach of all but the most ignorant.

Fortunately, Mary Anastasia O’Grady from the Wall Street Journal is not one of those ignorant dolts that is swept away by tales of dolphin shows and heartfelt confessions. This is not because of her obvious high intellect, but because she is actually knowledgeable on the topic of Cuba.

While Jeffrey Goldberg is captured by the siren song of a brutal dictator that has murdered thousands and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of his people, Mary is right there to call him on it.

Here is her column in today’s WSJ (in its entirety):

Weekend at Fidel’s

Jeffrey Goldberg is not the first American journalist to cuddle up to Castro.

At most marine parks in the world the animals provide the entertainment. But at the Havana aquarium last month, Fidel Castro had a couple of humans eating out of his hand and clapping like trained seals.

I refer here to the Atlantic Monthly’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who traveled recently to Cuba at Castro’s invitation with his friend Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Goldberg has posted a two-part report from his lengthy conversations with the dictator online for the magazine. One part includes details of a day at the aquarium, where Mr. Goldberg, accompanied by Ms. Sweig, seems to have experienced more than one “thrill going up [his] leg” in the presence of Fidel.

The reporter “hope[s] to be publishing a more comprehensive article about the subject in a forthcoming print edition of the Atlantic.” I’m guessing that anyone who actually knows something about Castro’s Cuba is not the target audience.

Castro again has an urgent need to put a smiley face on his dictatorship. The economy is in dire straits. Food is scarce, electricity is a rarity, and soap and toilet paper are luxuries. Cuba produces almost nothing and this makes it difficult to get hard currency—aka real money—which in turn makes it tough to buy from abroad. Lending sources have dried up.

If the regime is to stay in power, it needs a new source of income to pay the secret police and keep the masses in rice. The best bet is the American tourist, last seen circa 1950 exploiting the locals, according to revolutionary lore, but now needed by the regime. It wants the U.S. travel ban lifted. To prevail, Castro needs to counteract rumors that he is a dictator. Solution: a makeover in the Atlantic. In Mr. Goldberg, he no doubt recognized the perfect candidate for the job.

Fidel’s step one was to tell Mr. Goldberg that he is outraged by anti-Semitism. “I don’t think that anyone has been slandered more than the Jews,” the old man proclaims to his guests. And by the way, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should “stop picking on the Jews.” When Mr. Goldberg asks whether Castro will tell the Iranian himself, Castro says, “I am saying this so you can communicate it.” Translation: This should be the headline of your piece so that the American people will recognize my benevolence. Mr. Goldberg complied.

We are supposed to conclude that Cuba is no longer a threat to global stability and that Fidel is a reformed tyrant. But how believable is a guy whose revolution all but wiped out Cuba’s tiny Jewish community of 15,000, and who spent the past 50 years supporting the terrorism of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Syria, Libya and Iran? And how does Castro explain Venezuela, where Cuban intelligence agents run things, Iran is an ally and anti-Semitism has been state policy in recent years? Mr. Goldberg doesn’t go there with Fidel.

It also is passing strange that we hear nothing from Mr. Goldberg about poor Alan Gross. Mr. Gross, a U.S. government contractor and a Jew, has been languishing in a Cuban prison since December. His crime: distributing computers to a handful of Cuban Jews who want to establish contact with the diaspora. Is that any way to show love for the Jewish people?

It never seems to cross Mr. Goldberg’s mind that he is being used in a manner Communists first learned at Lenin’s knee. Or perhaps he is happy to be useful. In a follow-up post he explains that since Fidel is not as bad as Pol Pot, Cubans should stop complaining. And to demonstrate further how little he knows about the plight of the Cuban people, he says that the “release” of political prisoners “is currently being negotiated.” Wrong. Some have been exiled; some others may receive conditional parole meaning that they can be returned to prison at any time if the regime disapproves of their activities.

Mr. Goldberg is peddling his Castro interviews as serious journalism. But while he was “curious” to get a “glimpse of the great man,” he was ill-prepared for the job. Presumably he knew this, which is why he allowed Ms. Sweig to lead him around Havana by the nose.

This set him up for failure because Ms. Sweig—an academic with easy access to the island while critics are banned—is a trusted friend of the dictatorship. “Fidel greeted Julia warmly; they have known each other for more than twenty years,” Mr. Goldberg reports.

When Castro declares that the Cuban model no longer works, Mr. Goldberg turns to Ms. Sweig, as if there is something profound to be grasped. He is not saying “the ideas of the Revolution” have failed, she explains, but only that the state “has much too big a role” in the economy. Right, except that the state-owned economy is the idea of the revolution.

It is hardly surprising, then, that what we get from this interview is warmed-over Barbara Walters, another whose heart went pitter patter when she got close to the Cuban despot. This encounter also produced nothing of substance.

Apparently, O’Grady’s column — which was released just this morning — has struck a nerve with Mr. Goldberg. On his blog you will find the strongest defense they can come up with to rebut O’Grady’s less than complimentary summation of Goldberg’s dates with Fidel: Ms. O’Grady is a crazy lady.

16 thoughts on “Jeffrey Goldberg: Fidel’s trained seal”

  1. I notice that Mr. Goldberg’s post doesn’t allow anyone to leave comments (perhaps if one subscribes?) Not exactly a sign a confidence, is it? If I had been able to I would have given him a piece of my mind. I’d say he was a useful idiot, but he seems more than that–a committed Castro lover!

  2. You can write him. This is what I sent him just now. I called it “What is it with you?” And I used some things from babalu with no names or attributions.

    Dear Mr. Goldberg,
    I must be crazy, too. After the left gets finished by using name calling like crazy, stupid, exremist, Islamophobic or racist, your arsenal runs dry. Why are you unable to look history in the eye?
    Castro gave money and aid in weaponry and propaganda to any entity he could find to make sure he was part of the global network to kill Jews everywhere. He is a megalomaniac who wants to consider himself important and powerful to the world. You are right to think he is puny compared to other really dangerous entities today like Islamists. However he still cannot deny his history in relishing his part in killing Jews everywhere.
    I am a Jew and not an hispanic one. I am just intelligent enough to have learned that communism doesn’t work and never has and never will. (My letter to him contained the link and he could go to it to read the article if facts ever mean anything to him. I wanted to say more, but I was too angry. So I just stopped at this.)
    Janet Cantor
    Philadelphia, Pa.

    Click on the column where it says how does this feel?
    Consider these facts and some comments:

    To every Jew who has ever supported fidel:

    To the liberal/progressive Jews who support fidel and co., how does this feel?.

    “The hatred of the State of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they wouldn’t hesitate sending a million-and-a-half men, women and children from that country to the crematoriums in which the Nazis exterminated millions of Jews of all ages. The Führer’s swastika seems to be today’s new Israeli flag.” (This is what Castro said.)

    And this:

    “The State of Israel’s hatred towards the Palestinians is such that it would not hesitate to send 1.5 million men, women and children to the crematoriums in which millions of Jews of all ages were killed.”

    When we warn you about this (and other) monster, and you laugh it off as the ravings of hardliners and fanatics, you do nothing but further and hasten the destruction of Israel and the West.



    Somebody alert Mr. Spielberg, assuming he’s not still in deep ecstasy over his 8 hours with Fidel. Somebody can alert Mr. Goldberg, too while they are at it.



    Conservative Jews and Cubans should unite. Start a whisper campaign amongst the punk jihad that the image of Che on shirts worn by idiot leftists is really Mohammed.
    It will sure make the next anti-war demo interesting.
    As they used to say on Candid Camera when I was a kid,
    “Watch the fun and the frolic”.

  3. To people like Goldberg, people like O’Grady ARE crazy–crazy to be so unfashionable as to act or speak like a conservative or (the horror!) a right-winger. Remember, this game is NOT about the truth as such; it’s about what’s convenient and useful to one’s agenda. I did appreciate the analogy to Barbara Walters, which is very apt. My revulsion over her infamous Castro “interview” has never left me. Unfortunately, these people are NOT going to change as long as they know the system both condones and encourages their brazen bias and willful ignorance. They know perfectly well on which side their bread is buttered. And if they can dismiss O’Grady’s objections by calling her crazy, they can most definitely dismiss the objections of “those people” in South Florida by calling them anything they damn well please. As has been proven beyond doubt, it is totally politically correct to trash and dump on the Cuban exile community, even though that would not be tolerated with any “correct” minority that knows its place and aligns with the “proper” ostensible benefactors.

  4. You know, maybe I sound like a broken record, but if Goldberg were not a Jew but some Spanish Socialist, or some French intellectual like Sartre, or some Canadian Trudeau type, let alone some “Latin” Che lover, I would both understand his Fidel thing better and feel less offended. A Jew really should know better and act accordingly. I mean, anything even remotely close to shilling for Castro, Inc. is profoundly disreputable, for anybody, but for a Jew it’s also demeaning (which it would not be for, say, Santana, who never had an exalted position to fall from, but rather the opposite). Goldberg, as a Jew, should be above this sort of disgraceful self-soiling. Again, it’s not that he owes Cuba, but that he owes himself and his own people.

  5. Aspmbra,
    If you look at the roll call of Obama’s cabinet, it reads like a who’s who of Jewish liberals and yet they are so wrong headed. This is not a Jewish thing; it is a liberal thing. And now my liberal Jewish friends are so entrenched in defense of their quasi religious sloganeering – Bush evil, Obama fantastic – that they are unable to see things any other way. So it is with this guy. Netanyahu I do not understand. I am working on trying to get an e-mail address for him so I can see if I can show him the error of his current apparent insanity.
    On the plus side, though Jews are only one or two percent of our population, on NR cruises we make up 10% of the cruise passenger list of conservatives. Also, the RJC is growing by leaps and bounds. What was once a small group is now active all over the country meeting regularly and membership is so much larger that meetings become sellouts and people must be turned away.
    Also about five of my die hard liberal friends are now on my side. The very left is so hard to crack. But things may be looking up in the Jewish population for our side.


    You say that her column “is almost pathological in its disregard for reality” and then fail to say why. Did Castro have a policy of antisemitism or not? Did he kill or exile or chase out the Cuban Jew population or not? Did he or did he not support antisemitic terror groups in the Middle East?

    And how many Jews are left in Cuba now? Is it far less than 15,000 now, like 1,000 or 2,000 — or even 5,000 given population increases through births in the community? If yes, than how is she wrong? Do you deny Castro was and is a dictator? Would America be better off run by a regime like his?

    Critics of the Castro regime don’t get interviews with Castro, just as no-one critical of Saddam got interviews with him or even got to have a bureau in Iraq. The rationalization by CNN at the time was that they would lose their Baghdad bureau if they were critical. But if CNN wasn’t allowed to report the news reasonably free of Baghdad censorship, I’d say for even semi-serious journalistic intents and purposes they had already lost their Baghdad bureau long before.

    The same goes for you. You went to Cuba to see Castro knowing that if you wrote a piece the least bit critical of him, you would never be allowed access to him again, so instead you published everything the guy said which he intended to make him look good and get some cash flow to prop up his regime. You thus volunteered to be part of his propaganda apparatus.

    Think about it: You literally took dictation from a dictator.

  7. Asombra –
    Mr. Goldberg’s forebearers may have been Jewish. A better guess is that for the last two or three generations, his family’s religion has been one or another form of Marxism. Soft or hard. Marxism is a religion that dissolves the mind into MUSH. I say that as an American Jew, born here though likely conceived in Cuba who can read, write and speak to an extent en Espanol/Ladino. Just as “fifo” may well have a marrano past, it matters not. His G-d is Marx and saviors have been the descendants of Lenin. For Fidel with his 80+ years on earth, the iklihood of change is about nil.He is who he is and was and is the EMCee of “Survival-CUBA” where the winner gets to get off the Island by any means at hand. -Ecosse-

  8. So, Goldberg calls Ms. O’Grady ‘crazy’? Wasn’t that nice of him to confirm everything Ms. O’Grady said about his schoolgirl’s crush on the Beast of Biran?

    Not that we needed to be told.

    Every thug, every commie rat, every scumbag with something to hide always says the same things when someone truthfully exposes them: They call them ‘crazy’, ‘loony’, ‘dangerous’, ‘a liar’, etc. etc., just as The Butcher of Brentwood and his garbage bag wet-dream team of liars called LA PD Detective Mark Fuhrman a ‘racist’.

    Yeah. Right.

    And the one who calls a valiant cop ‘racist’ is pretty handy with a knife, and handier yet with projective lies.

    It’s no different with Goldy vs. O’Grady. She outed him as a castro shill-parrot, so he calls her ‘crazy’.

    My my. How very original of him.

    As for the old man with the bag criticizing Hock My Dinner Jacket for his maltreatment of the Jews, isn’t that a bit like hitler criticizing stalin for his treatment of the Kulaks? Look who’s talking. Why doesn’t Goldberg ask fido what ever became of Cuba’s once vibrant Jewish community, eh?

    No matter. These manhattan steamheat socialists, millionaire marxists and trust fund trotskyites fool us not.

    Paul Vincent Zecchino
    Manasota Key, Florida
    27 September, 2010

  9. Dear Mr. Goldberg:

    Please know that many of us consider it a high honor to be called ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘dangerous’, ‘not to be believed’ and other tiresome insults which leftists hurl at anyone who makes statements about communist gangsterism that the left cannot honestly refute.

    A petti crime syndicate comprised of leech distant relatives and the scumbag lawyers who lie for them and the MOBsters who ultimately will do them all dirty, extorted a family member of ours for decades.

    When we caught these putrid gutless chivatos and gave them every opportunity to turn around and come clean, they instead called us every vile name in the book, which served well to validate what we discovered and as well to confirm their guilt.

    Please tell your liberal urinalist pallies to continue insulting anyone who doesn’t quack the communist party line. Please, keep insulting Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, and all the other women who threaten the left wing misogynistic cancer.

    We consider your worst insults to be a badge of honor.

    Paul Vincent Zecchino
    Manasota Key, Florida
    27 September, 2010

  10. Zhanglicun and paul…
    So many good things in all you say.
    Goldberg tells his readers there’s little time to repent their sins because the holiday is fast approaching. Ha. Does he repent nothing connected to his evil gullibility and support of a villain? We all know the answer to this.
    I often reflect on this on the high holy days. How can a person repent if he doesn’t recognize how he sins? My prayer is always if I have done wrong and am not aware of it, please make it known to me. There is no way Goldberg says such a thing in his prayers. He is so sure he is on the side of the angels. But would he be thrilled with Hitler if he had survived and continued in power after decades of murder and the rest just because he now says something good about the Jews? But, of course, the difference here is that Goldberg doesn’t acknowledge that Castro has done anything bad in the last half century.

  11. asombra,

    You’re a very good articulate writer and can state your point extremely well.

    Please give Mr. Goldberg a piece of your mind.

    I’m sure he’ll be in for the shock of his life.

  12. Thanks, FFC, but Goldberg would dismiss me even more quickly than he dismissed O’Grady, since I’m Cuban, which of course means I’m one of “those people,” and “those people,” naturally, could never “get it” like he does, let alone like a Cuba “expert” such as Sweig. If he called O’Grady crazy, he’d call me paranoid and homicidal. It’s a no-win situation.

  13. Well, I’m not Cuban and I told him so and I told him I’m Jewish. So write him and tell him you are Jane McGillicuddy. Who cares what you tell him you name is. He is not honest or honorable. I do not lie generally, but it’s okay to lie to dishonorable people.

  14. Honey, this whole situation reminds me of the recent post about a highly dubious letter sent to Professor Carlos Eire. His response was beautifully written and very eloquent, but I’m pretty sure it did nothing to change the mindset or behavior of the useful idiot (or worse) who wrote to him. These people are like religious fanatics (if they sincerely believe the lies they proclaim) or like hardened con artists who deliberately operate in bad faith. Either way, as I said then about Eire’s response, trying to “convert” them is like throwing pearls before swine. It’s futile. The only thing somebody like Goldberg would respond to is criticism and rejection from his own kind, meaning high-profile liberal media bigwigs, which obviously is not going to happen. He is, after all, playing to a certain audience, and it’s definitely not people like you, let alone “those people,” as Clinton called us like he called Lewinsky “that woman.” Goldberg doesn’t give a shit that we know he’s full of it, because he’s not after our approval and figures we can’t touch him anyway. He’s after the fashionable “progressive” crowd, which is where the money is, so to speak.

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