The New York Times Book Review today reviews The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times by Anthony DePalma. In the review, the Times owns up to its reporter Herbert Matthews’ role in helping Fidel Castro gain power by means of biased reporting:
DePalma shows that Matthews was a determined liberal but not a faker like Walter Duranty, the Times correspondent who won a 1932 Pulitzer Prize for his fawning coverage of Stalin and was probably in league with the Soviet secret police. Matthews’s articles were for the most part factually accurate. But he comes across as a self-righteous and credulous analyst who sided with those who gave him access and then refused to reassess, whatever the changing facts. While other reporters who also misread Castro toughened their coverage after he began ordering summary executions, Matthews stuck stubbornly to his original myth.
While his pacing and historical context are first-rate, DePalma “” himself a correspondent at The Times “” might have quoted more extensively from the many rationalizations of Castro that Matthews undertook in books and articles in the 20 years between the famous interview and his death in 1977. Did he ever go beyond comparisons to Oliver Cromwell and John Brown and call Castro by his proper name “” dictator? Apparently not, though DePalma doesn’t say.
The Times editors were able to publish this review, apparently, without noticing any parallels to their contemporary coverage of the global jihad. Yet in its stubborn refusal to discuss the jihad ideology and its role in Islamic violence, the Times comes across as a self-righteous and credulous analyst that has sided with those who gave it access and then refused to reassess, whatever the changing facts. Will the Times ever go beyond comparisons to genuine insurgent and militant groups and call the present conflict by his proper name “” jihad? Apparently not.
And that’s why we call it the New Duranty Times.