MRC Press Release - May 9, 2002 - New MRC Study Finds CNNs Cuba Coverage a "Megaphone For a Dictator"



WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a Washington news conference today held by Cuba Libertad, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell released a new MRC study that has found CNNs Havana bureau to be more of a propaganda tool for Fidel Castros government than a balanced and fair source of news out of Cuba. The study, Megaphone for a Dictator: CNNs Coverage of Castros Cuba, 1997-2002, reviewed all 212 CNN prime time news stories on Cuban life or government since creation of the CNN Havana bureau on March 17, 1997 through March 17, 2002.

CNN launched this bureau with fanfare and bold claims about how coverage would be unfettered. The story out of Cuba should be: Why do people keep risking their lives to flee that country? Our findings show CNN has all but completely ignored that story, Bozell said.

Summary of Findings from
Megaphone for a Dictator: CNNs Coverage of Castros Cuba, 1997-2002

  • CNN provided very little coverage of Cubas dissidents, who were the focus of only seven of the 212 Cuba stories broadcast during the past five years, or about three percent of CNNs total coverage. Thats fewer than half as many stories as CNN produced in just the first three months of 2002 about alleged human rights abuses by the United States against prisoners held at its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • CNNs stories included six times as many sound bites from everyday Cubans who voiced agreement with Castro and supported his policies than quotes from Cuban citizens disagreeing with the government. This left American audiences with the impression that Castros government is overwhelmingly popular among the Cuban public.
  • CNN gave spokesmen for the communist regime a major advantage, broadcasting sound bites from Fidel Castro and his spokesmen six times more frequently than the non-communist groups such as Catholic church leaders and peaceful dissidents.
  • CNN practically ignored Cubas lack of democracy, a topic that was featured in only four stories (or just under two percent). One of those reports, in January 1998, consisted of Lucia Newman trumpeting Cubas rigged election as superior to those in the U.S. because they have no dubious campaign spending and no mud slinging.