Manufacturing the Enemy: the Media War against Cuba By Keith Bolender, Pluto Press
“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. But it is exactly what the United States has been doing for nearly all of the last century in relation to Cuba. Its mass media (from across all of the mainstream political spectrum) has enthusiastically endorsed every smear, distortion and lie about Cuba and especially, since the triumph of the revolution, has actively attempted to end Cuba’s socialist experiment and bring about an illegal regime change.
There is not just an economic blockade against the island but an informational one which is just as damaging to Cuban society and its efforts to advance itself. Cuba’s friends must therefore fight a constant battle against the demonisation of the revolution and engage constantly in an arena which Bolender describes as “where myth replaces history and facts become immaterial to rational discussion”. This book is therefore an important resource in that struggle. Well structured and accessible it is extensively researched and referenced with numerous examples of how, whilst on the surface some coverage of Cuba appears impartial, closer examination exposes the integral anti Cuban spin that has not only predominated since the revolution but existed before even Fidel came on the scene.
A journalist by trade, Bolender not only understands but clearly shows how the media “is able to offer up and have believed the most insidious distortions imaginable in what has to be considered one of the worst abrogations of acceptable journalistic standards”.
After stating “It makes the failings made while covering the lead up to the invasion of Iraq pale by comparison”, he then makes a thoroughly convincing case of Cuba as the perfect example of the media setting their own parameters of perception. Their opinions have been consistently critical and whilst the overthrow of the current Cuban government comes from a US government foreign policy diktat the responsibility for convincing the American people (and other audiences around the world) that Cuba must abandon its chosen social/economic system has been embraced slavishly by the mainstream media. Reporting in favour of regime change never once questions any possibility that the US may not have the legal right to interfere in a sovereign independent state.
Thirty years on since Chomsky and Hermann outlined the five filters by which the media manipulate and lie in Manufacturing Consent this book clearly shows how the media has ‘manufactured the enemy’. Maintaining a myth that the USA media has no impact on Cuba is exposed brilliantly by Bolender who makes it clear how they continually foster discontent and hardship with the aim of overthrowing the Cuban government and are forever attacking in one form or another “the enemy”. The latest example being the totally fake news story behind the so called ‘sonic’ attacks in Havana. It is a sickening catalogue of appalling standards and journalistic treachery on an unprecedented scale.
Not just supporters of Cuba but everyone who cares about truth from the press needs to read it.
Bob Oram This review appeared in CubaSi Summer 2019 magazine