April 13, 2006

Looking Back at Fidel’s Inventor

As we approach the 45th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961, a new book provides a glimpse at US-Cuba relations at a time when the media still had teeth and the economic embargo against Cuba was young.

The Man Who Invented Fidel,” by New York Times reporter Anthony DePalma, looks closely at the reporter who bravely followed a bunch of young rebels into the Sierra Maestra to perform what would turn out to be the most important interview of his life. Herbert L. Matthews not only brought back the news that Castro was alive, but presented a positive editorial portrait of the man.

DePalma balances Cuban history with behind-the-scene moments of decision-making at the New York Times editorial offices. The fact that Cubans in the U.S. showed their support for the writing of Matthews didn’t help the perception of objectivity that reporters and historians are expected to adhere to. To complicate matters, it was obvious to everyone with a heartbeat that the U.S. government had been actively supporting Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The NYTimes eventually assigned reporter Homer Bigart to cover the situation in Cuba.

If you have a public library card you can search the NYTimes Archives and compare the articles of Matthews to those of Bigart. But read the DePalma book first. You can’t go wrong with this title.



Post a Comment

<< Home