Thursday, March 31, 2016

Revealed: How Associated Press cooperated with the Nazis in Germany and the Communists in Cuba and North Korea

"[T]here is no distinguishing between good or better dictatorships; between left-wing or right-wing dictatorships; they are simply dictatorships." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas,“Fifty Years without Freedom” January 2, 2009

How AP news bureaus cooperated and continue to with totalitarian regimes
The desire to maintain a press bureau in a totalitarian regime on at least three occasions resulted in self-censorship and stories that advanced the dictatorship's official narrative at the time. The Guardian in Berlin reported on how this practice was carried out in Nazi Germany and the compromises made to maintain the news bureau open in the Third Reich until 1941 when the AP was kicked out of Germany with U.S. entry into WWII.
In an article published in academic journal Studies in Contemporary History , historian Harriet Scharnberg shows that AP was only able to retain its access by entering into a mutually beneficial two-way cooperation with the Nazi regime. The New York-based agency ceded control of its output by signing up to the so-called Schriftleitergesetz (editor’s law), promising not to publish any material “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home”. This law required AP to hire reporters who also worked for the Nazi party’s propaganda division. One of the four photographers employed by the Associated Press in the 1930s, Franz Roth, was a member of the SS paramilitary unit’s propaganda division, whose photographs were personally chosen by Hitler.
In North Korea the pattern continues today and Donald Kirk in the 2013 article "The AP Plays Defense on North Korea" offers a detailed analysis of the AP news bureau in the Hermit kingdom:
Paul Colford, director of media relations for the Associated Press (AP), has the unenviable task of publicizing the AP’s bureau in Pyongyang, opened in January of last year with a reporter and photographer hired from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) comprising its local staff. While the AP boasts of having the first western news bureau in the North Korean capital, AP publicity does not acknowledge that the bureau operates under constraints that raise questions about whether it’s a real bureau. The lone North Korea reporter does not file often, and, when he does, generally confines himself to material from KCNA that’s already been quoted by the AP and others routinely monitoring KCNA in Seoul and Beijing. Jean Lee, the AP’s Korea bureau chief, based in Seoul, goes to Pyongyang via Beijing from time to time, but she’s not able to fly in and out whenever she pleases. Moreover, she has to be accompanied by a North Korean guide or minder when she ventures outside her hotel in search of news and features.[1] Under these difficult circumstances, Colford sometimes finds himself defending an operation whose coverage would appear at variance with the gutsy reporting that often distinguishes the AP in conflicts and crises elsewhere, including South Korea. Thus he fired off an indignant email to The Christian Science Monitor (The Monitor) protesting my story on February 4. At issue was a reference to “AP coverage from North Korea that scrupulously avoids such issues as the North’s human rights record or abuse of political prisoners.”[2]
In Cuba the pattern repeats itself with the Associated Press coverage on the Castro regime. Mike Gonzalez in his oped essay titled "Cubans still suffer, but media looks away" explained that coverage is skewed because journalists in Cuba have ample reason to fear being expelled having seen colleagues such as Chicago Tribune's Gary Marx, the BBC's Stephen Gibbs and Cesar Gonzalez-Calero of Mexico's El Universal all expelled in 2007 from Cuba for offering reporting that although bending over backwards not to offend still ran afoul of the regime.

However the Associated Press went further than other press agencies in reporting that: 1) Leaves out critical facts to advance lifting sanctions and providing credits to the dictatorship. 2) Describing common sense precautions by foreign based NGOs as a "clandestine operation" in language used by the regime while also engaging in the same practices themselves. 3) Consistently providing coverage that portrays the democratic opposition in a negative light repeating the Cuban dictatorship's talking points with the most recent example being on January 8, 2015. 4) Not providing context of the totalitarian nature of the regime and the "demonstrators" bussed in by the political police to attack pro-democracy activists on International Human Rights day.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez of Generation Y on August 12, 2014 warned: "Caution foreign news agencies! Your representatives in these lands are always in danger of becoming hostages, first, and then collaborators of the rulers." In a 2014 interview with Hank Tester, I told the NBC6 journalist that Associated Press reporting on Cuba "read like communist Cuban propaganda."

Andrea Rodríguez, the correspondent of the Associated Press in Cuba, is a worse case example of all the above practices and was challenged by the late Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas after one of her biased filled articles. On September 20, 2011 the Cuban human rights defender released the video he had made of his interview with Andrea Rodriguez because he believed that what he had told her was not fairly reflected in the article she had written. He provided a transcript along with the video of the interview and in it challenged the false narrative peddled by the Associated Press stating:
"Where in the world does a woman dressed in white walking down the street constitute a provocation? Only in a fascist-communist regime like this. Therefore the victim gets criticized because no one dares to criticize the executioner. There is a real “moral inversion,” in what the foreign media, intellectual circles, ecclesiastical circles, diplomats and politicians are doing against the people of Cuba and against the dissident right now. They judge the persecuted, the poor, those who are silenced, but they do not dare to judge the government. And what the government needs to be told is what we say in “the People’s Path”. Hold free elections; change the law so Cubans can express themselves, so they can choose. But what they want is to keep their privileges while they say that everything has been agreed upon. This joke will go very wrong because the people of Cuba are not stupid, and the majority are still poor and distressed. But the worst is that the foreign media, intellectual circles, ecclesiastical circles, and entire states are accompanying the Cuban government in setting up this fraud, this joke that will bring only confrontation and pain to Cubans, and that is keeping the majority of the Cuban people silent and gagged while this virtual scenario for change is being created."
Sadly, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was killed on July 22, 2012 and all the evidence points to an extrajudicial execution carried out by the Castro regime's security services. However on July 22, 2012, despite the misgivings of Oswaldo's family, the AP correspondent in Havana over twitter echoed the official position of the Castro regime.

These AP press bureaus in North Korea and Cuba are not centers of journalism because in order to remain open in these totalitarian dictatorships the bureaus have crossed a line. They have become propaganda outlets that cooperate with outlaw regimes who incidentally also cooperate with each other smuggling tons of heavy weapons.

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