Reed Irvine - Editor
|April A, 1982|
CBS AIDS AMERICA'S ENEMIES
"'We have to win the war inside the United States,' said Hector Oqueli one of the (El Salvadoran) rebel leaders...His colleague, Ruben Zamora, added, 'We have tried to change our public image.'" So wrote Philip Taubman in The New York Times in an article published February 26, 1982, on the efforts being made by the guerrillas in El Salvador to repeat the success of the North Vietnamese and Vietcong in manipulating American public opinion.
Taubman added: "Their primary goal, the rebels said, was to overcome the pronouncements of the Reagan Administration that have portrayed the guerrillas as Soviet and Cuban puppets. The guerrillas began with the example of Vietnam. 'The American media, especially television, turned public opinion against the war,' said Mr. Zamora."
Zamora said that in the late summer of 1981, the guerrillas decided to try to improve their image abroad. One step, he said, was to invite American reporters in El Salvador to visit rebel strongholds in the countryside. We saw some of the results of those visits in the major stories that appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post on January 27 and 28 about an alleged massacre in Mozote, near the Honduran border. Those stories were part of the dividend paid by a guided tour given Raymond Bonner of The New York Times and Alma Guillermoprieto of The Washington Post in early January. The stories, which were patent transmissions of guerrilla atrocity propaganda, were published just as President Reagan was announcing that he would certify El Salvador as eligible for continued American aid.
The New York Times ran two other lengthy articles by Bonner based on his visit to the guerrilla strongholds. Oqueli and Zamora must have been highly pleased with Bonner's work. They conveyed the message that the guerrillas were good Christians, who said they were getting no arms from Cuba or Nicaragua. They denied that any of the guerrilla leaders had been to Cuba or Nicaragua for training. A doctor was quoted as saying, "It's simply propaganda to say that we're satellites of Nicaragua or Cuba." They were hammering away to knock clown the administration charge that they were armed and directed by the Cubans and Nicaraguans.
Zamora said that the guerrillas had achieved results from their cultivation of the newspaper correspondents. He said that television had been more difficult for them to handle. Taubman reported: " 'Television is most important, but it was also our biggest problem,' said Mr. Zamora. He explained, 'They just weren't interested in us for months.'" However, that too has changed, and the guerrilla efforts reaped their biggest harvest on Saturday, March 20, 1982, when CBS News aired a 90- minute documentary titled, "Central America in Revolt."
In January 1981, the Public Broadcasting Service went to considerable trouble and expense to air a guerrilla propaganda film to coincide with what the communists in E1 Salvador called their "final offensive." It was called. "El Salvador: Another Vietnam?" It provided the slogan that has proven very effective in frightening people about the Reagan administration efforts to stem further expansion of the communist base in Central America.
A week before the Salvadoran elections, which the communists were doing their best to spoil, CBS News aired an even more effective propaganda program in what appeared to be an effort to turn public opinion against support for administration policies in Central America. Oqueli, Zamora, Tomas Borge and his Sandinista comrades in Managua, and indeed, Fidel Castro and Leonid Brezhnev should be very pleased with the helping hand that CBS News has given them.
The message that CBS News sought to convey in this program was that President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig are wrong in suggesting that the United States has anything to fear from communist- backed revolutions in Central America. They started out showing the President warning that we would face more Cubas in the hemisphere if we did not stand firm. They slowly worked their way up to a refutation of that argument from two Mexicans--President Lopez Portillo and the pro-communist writer, Carlos Fuentes, whose political leanings were not described by CBS.
On the way they passed through El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, building up the case that our policies are hopelessly wrong. They ended up challenging the credibility of the U.S. government and putting on Senator Christopher Dodd to argue that we should identify with those who are trying to improve the quality of life in the world, because otherwise we will be apt to see more and more El Salvadors.
It seems fair to assume that the only two Mexicans CBS interviewed in the fourth segment of that documentary reflected the views of CBS itself. There was almost no effort to provide any counter to the stance taken by both President Jose Lopez Portillo and Carlos Fuentes. We found that over eight minutes of this segment were devoted to expounding or supporting the views of these two Mexicans, with the only offset being a statement by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Enders to the effect that while we respect President Lopez's proposals, we can't let him determine our policies. That took 24 seconds.
Mexico's president was seen assuring us that Mexico was not at all worried about the communists taking over neighboring Guatemala. He said that a revolution there would simply result in a system being established that fit the desires of the Guatemalan people, nothing more. "We are not worried," he said. "The Mexican Revolution took place on the other side of your border, and what happened? We now live together as neighbors... If the people want to set up a certain type of government for themselves, they have the right to do so." Bill Moyers added: "If they can win that right."
Lopez Portillo expressed great confidence in Castro, saying, "I know my Cuban brothers and sisters. We have always supported each other, and neither of us would try to take what belongs to the other." He wants the Reagan administration to accommodate, not confront, Central America's revolutionary movements. That view was expressed even more forcefully by Bill Moyers' other Mexican authority, Carlos Fuentes, who used to write for the Mexican communist magazine, Politica, and whose extremist outlook is well known in Mexico. Introducing Fuentes, Moyers said: "The Mexicans believe the Salvadoran revolution has history on its side. They see it as a struggle for liberation which might be moderated but cannot be stopped...Aware that radicalism in the region could spill across their own borders, aware too that the combination of their new- found oil wealth and vast poverty leave them particularly vulnerable, Mexicans are looking for peaceful solutions. They wish the Reagan administration would stop using Central America as a platform for tough talk against the Russians."
Fuentes charged that the United States knew nothing of Central America and its problems and that it was presumptuous of us to intervene there. Asked by Moyers if it was another Vietnam, he said that it was another 'gigantic historic mistake.' He suggested that we outwit the Soviets by saying, "We dialogue with the Cubans. We support revolutions in El Salvador, in Nicaragua." This was the policy that the radical Institute for Policy Studies sold to the Carter administration. It led to the communist takeover of Nicaragua. The Sandinistas repaid us for our help by composing a national anthem which declared that "the Yankees are the enemies of mankind."
Mike Wallace, the defamer of General Westmoreland and the whitewasher of Jean Seberg, was given the assignment of telling the CBS audience how things are going in Nicaragua since the Sandinistas took over. Our analysis indicates that this relentless investigative reporter turned into a pussycat in Nicaragua. We counted 12 minutes of this segment that were favorable to the Sandinista regime against only 6 minutes that were negative. Wallace made much of the fact that Catholic priests and nuns are involved with the Sandinistas. He made considerable use of the Maryknoll priest, Fr. Miguel D'Escoto, who is now the Nicaraguan foreign minister. He made no mention of the fact that D'Escoto has a long record of dedication to the cause of the extreme left. D'Escoto used to edit the Maryknoll magazine and was head of the Maryknoll publishing house in this country. Both promoted liberation theology, a Marxist perversion of Christianity.
Wallace also relied heavily on a Maryknoll nun who is working in Nicaragua and is an enthusiastic supporter of the revolution. Wallace showed surprise that a Catholic nun should be working with a Cuban Marxist doctor. It didn't seem to occur to him that the nun might be as Marxist as the doctor. Wallace asked her about that line in the Nicaraguan anthem that condemns the Yankees as the enemies of the mankind. Asked if she believed that, the American nun affirmed that she did, given the policies of our government.
Wallace then turned to another American, a Jesuit priest named Peter Marchetti from Nebraska. He also sang the praises of the Sandinistas. He, too, is well known in Nicaragua as a far leftist. Wallace said the Sandinista "comandantes" are "much more radical" and have "a strong Marxist bent." Can it be that Mike Wallace does not know that there are radical priests and nuns who have a strong Marxist bent even after having met several of them in Nicaragua? Or was he putting on an act to fool his audience?
It is interesting that while the segments of the program that dealt with El Salvador and Guatemala were much concerned with human rights, Mike Wallace devoted only a little over 2 minutes to human rights in Nicaragua. He noted that the opposition paper had been suspended five times in nine months, that opposition parties were intimidated by mobs, and that some top business leaders had been jailed for criticizing the drift to communism. Wallace said not a word about the 4,000 political prisoners in Nicaraguan prisons, condemned to long terms by kangaroo courts. He said nothing about the fact that the government controls all radio and television. While he interviewed Archbishop Obando y Bravo, he didn't mention that he had been denied permission to continue his weekly television broadcast. In discussing the imprisonment of business leader Enrique Dreyfus, Wallace reported that Dreyfus had said that the country was going Marxist-Leninist and that some of the opposition leaders might end up hung from trees. The letter that Dreyfus and some other business leaders signed had pointed out that the Sandinista minister of defense, Humberto Ortega, had given a speech saying it was necessary to draw up a list of potential 'counterrevolutionaries" and that those who supported imperialism would be the first to be hanged from the lamp posts. Ortega had also said, "Marxism-Leninism is the doctrine that guides our revolution." It's too bad Wallace didn't know about that. It is just the sort of thing a tough investigative reporter might like to put to Fr. Miguel D'Escoto or Fr. Marchetti.
One of the most important stories about Nicaragua today is the treatment of the Miskito Indians by the Sandinistas. Mike Wallace disposed of that in 30 seconds--half to the charge that the government was mistreating them in forcing them out of their villages along the Honduran border and half to the Sandinista defense of this action. There was no mention of the Moravian pastors who minister to these Indians who have been jailed. One of them was reported killed the day after the CBS program aired. There were no interviews with Indian leaders such as Stedman Fagoth Muller who have managed to escape the country.
The U.S. Government has repeatedly made the point that the violence in Central America is not homegrown, but rather, "is fueled from Cuba and other communist countries". Castro has provided arms, training, money, and advice, first to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and now to the guerrillas in El Salvador. There are those who would prefer that this be concealed, knowing that the American people are likely to be more concerned about the troubles in El Salvador and Guatemala if they believe that Castro is behind them.
Teams headed by the top correspondents of CBS News went to Central America to investigate the turmoil there, and they came back with almost nothing to say about the Cuban connection. Moyers in El Salvador found a guerrilla leader who denied getting such help, and Moyers noted that is what one would expect him to say. However, no evidence to the contrary was brought out. In Nicaragua, Mike Wallace put the question to Fr. D'Escoto. D'Escoto said those American officials who charge that Cuba and the Soviet Union are providing such assistance are not simply mistaken. "They are lying," he said. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Enders was brought on to say that D'Escoto was lying, and that was the end of that. Mike Wallace had no interest in trying to pursue that matter further.
In the Guatemala segment, the minister of defense charged that Cubans and Nicaraguans were involved in the guerrilla activity in Guatemala. Correspondent Ed label disputed that, saying: "The Guatemalan Government says that what you are seeing is the sinister work of international communism. In fact, some of the leaders have traveled to Cuba for advice, but the revolution is essentially home grown, the rebels insist, a class war. Weapons and uniforms, they claim, are captured from the Guatemalan army or bought on the black market. 'We are not Soviets or Nicaraguans,' they add. 'We are Guatemalans."'
Dan Rather came back to this troublesome problem in the concluding portion of the program. He charged that the U.S. Government's credibility was strained. He said, "A year ago, the State Department released a white paper to document communist intervention in El Salvador. They later acknowledged it was, quote, misleading." Rather was himself misleading his audience in implying that the State Department's white paper on El Salvador had been repudiated. The CIA defector, Philip Agee, wrote a lengthy analysis of that white paper and the attached captured documents that supported the claim that a number of communist countries were supplying arms to the Salvadoran guerrillas. Agee's work had been used as the basis for two long articles, one in The Wall Street Journal and the other in The Washington Post, neither of which gave credit to Agee, however. The State Department issued a detailed response which said that most of the criticisms were either inaccurate or were based on incorrect assumptions. It said that the few points of misstated detail or ambiguous formulations in no way changed the conclusions of the paper, and that the analysis and conclusions of the white paper were soundly based and fully valid.
Well before the CBS program was aired, the administration had presented detailed intelligence information to Congress about the Cuban supply of arms to the guerrillas. Members of the Congressional intelligence committees from both parties had stated publicly that they had found this evidence convincing. The day the CBS program was aired, March 20, the State Department issued a special report detailing some of this information.
The report presented in some detail the pattern of external communist support for the guerrillas in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Some of this could no doubt have been discovered by CBS News had they sought it. Also available to CBS but ignored were statements in the public record from Cuban, Nicaraguan, PLO and Vietnamese leaders attesting to the supply of arms and training that they had provided to the Central American rebels. This list follows.
June 19, 1981---German Social Democratic leader Hans- Jurgen Wischnewski states at a press conference in Bonn that Fidel Castro had admitted to him that Cuba had shipped weapons to the Salvadoran guerrillas.
March 18, 1982--The New York Times reports that the Salvadoran guerrillas now concede that Cuba supplied arms for the January 1981 "final offensive" through Nicaragua.
September, 28, 1981 and October 29, 1981--Cuban vice president, Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, confirms in interviews given to Der Spiegel and to El Diario of Caracas that Salvadoran guerrillas are trained in Cuba.
March 11, 1981--Sandinista defense minister, Humberto Ortega, in a speech in Hanoi gives thanks for the support given by the Vietnamese.
September 24, 1981-- William Shawcross says in New York Review of Books that Col. Bui Tin had acknowledged to him during a visit to Vietnam that American weapons left in Vietnam had been sent to El Salvador, saying, "We do our best to support revolutionary movements in the world."
January. 11, 1982--PLO chief Yasser Arafat confirms to a group of journalists in Beirut that "there are Palestinian pilots in Nicaragua, there are Palestinian revolutionaries with the revolutionaries in El Salvador." None of these reports were mentioned in the 90-minute CBS documentary.
Write to Van Gordon Sauter, President, CBS News, 527 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019 to protest the dishonesty of "Central America in Revolt."
To demonstrate the strained credibility of the U.S. government Dan Rather brought up the case of Orlando Tardencilla, a 19-year-old Nicaraguan who had been captured in El Salvador in January 1981. Tardencilla had appeared on television and had given a press conference in E1 Salvador last spring. On both occasions he had claimed that he had been trained in Cuba and Ethiopia and had been sent to El Salvador by the Sandinista regime to fight with the Salvadoran guerrillas. Pressed by the media to prove charges that Nicaragua was involved in the rebellion in El Salvador, the State Department brought Tardencilla to Washington and presented him to a hastily called press conference on March 12.
Tardencilla was expected to repeat the story he had told in El Salvador, but he double-crossed the State Department. At the press conference, he denied that he had been trained in Cuba and Ethiopia. He also denied that he had been sent to El Salvador, saying that he had gone on his own out of revolutionary fervor. He did not deny that he had been fighting in El Salvador. The State Department, deeply embarrassed, promptly turned the captive over to the Nicaraguan ambassador, and he was sent home to a hero's welcome.
When Secretary of State Haig made public mention of a photo published in a French magazine that allegedly showed Miskito Indians being burned alive in Nicaragua. the media checked out the photo and found that it was not what the magazine had said. It was of corpses being burned by Red Cross workers in Nicaragua in 1978 for sanitary reasons. The skepticism displayed by the press proved to be justified.
But when Orlando Tardencilla changed his story radically in Washington, skepticism was strangely lacking. The Nicaraguan's new version of his career was accepted almost without challenge. Television and newspapers played the story prominently, stressing the embarrassment to the administration and the blow dealt to the effort to establish Nicaraguan complicity in the El Salvadoran rebellion. The young guerrilla had handed America a stunning propaganda defeat.
It need not have happened. If the reporters in Washington had not been so eager to believe that Tardencilla had lied in El Salvador and was telling the truth in Washington. They might have asked some questions that would have demonstrated his new story was the lie.
In Washington Tardencilla claimed to have gone to El Salvador as a volunteer in April 1980. He said that when he was captured nine months later, in January 1981, he was in command of two provinces for FARN. We were asked to believe that a 17-year-old foreigner could go to El Salvador with no special training and no backing from his government and rise to command two provinces for the guerrillas in a few months.
Tardencilla's Washington version of his career lacks credibility. While it does not seem too likely that he would have been sent as far away as Ethiopia for training, the State Department says that he was grilled intensively about Ethiopian dress and customs by CIA experts. He demonstrated knowledge that they thought proved he had been to Ethiopia.
Tardencilla was held in a prison in El Salvador where prisoners were permitted to hold daily Marxist indoctrination classes. It seems likely that his Washington story was worked out together with his Marxist comrades in prison. It capitalized on the willingness of some journalists to believe lies provided they damage America.
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"'TIS SPRING AND THE ROOTS ARE SHALLOW-ROOTED. SUFFER THEM NOW AND THEY'LL OVER - grow the garden." Those words of Shakespeare's should be pondered by President Reagan as he and his advisers reflect on the situation confronting the United States in Central America. The weeds are growing healthily, as we saw on the night of March 20, when CBS News aired 90 minutes of propaganda for the "do-nothing, accommodate-to- the-communists" school of thought. We have devoted most of this issue of the AIM Report to this remarkable effort by CBS to undermine the effort to halt the spread of communist domination of the countries south of the Rio Grande. We didn't have the space to detail all the errors and distortions in the program. We could probably have written the whole issue on the Guatemalan segment alone, a segment that we didn't even touch. One of the things that struck me about that segment was the use of propaganda film purchased by CBS from a source identified as an independent film crew, which covertly interviewed guerrillas in Guatemala. Personnel at CBS News have refused to tell us the source of the film, which was of a guerrilla pitching his propaganda line, not action footage. They would not even identify the nationality of the film crew, saying this was necessary for their protection.
OVER 68 PER CENT OF THE TIME ON THIS 90-MINUTE CBS PROGRAM WAS DEVOTED TO MATERIAL that I consider to be negative from the point of view of U.S. policies or the countries we are supporting in Central America. I counted only 27 percent as being positive or defending our positions. In the segment on Mexico, it was 88 percent negative. The Guatemalan segment was 81 percent negative. However, that counts as negative much of what was said by an American businessman in Guatemala, who, no doubt, thought he was making a good case for our side. CBS recognized that in him they had a Jewel, someone who could help them make their case while seeming to give the other side. Documentary producer Martin Cart explained this technique in a speech he gave at the University of Rochester on February 9, 1978. Carr explained that it makes all the difference in the world who you put on to give the other side--the side opposed to the one the producer is on. He described a problem he had encountered in making a documentary on migrant workers. The first spokesman for the growers that he interviewed was a very cultivated, articulate gentleman. Cart feared that he would be too persuasive. He said he solved the problem by finding another grower, Andrew Duda. Cart said, "Duda was unbelievable--he had the same point of view, but he was so incredibly naive, he had internalized his bigotry so extraordinarily. He simply talked in a way that for once you could see blatantly the racism involved, the scorn for these people." CBS found a businessman in Guatemala who did for them what Duda had done for Martin Carr. A CBS representative told me that they considered the businessman, Fred Sherwood, to be representative of "many" American businessmen in Guatemala. He did not deny that Mr. Sherwood had been their Andrew Duda.
IN A FULL-PAGE NEWSPAPER AD PLUGGING THE PROGRAM, CBS HAD SAID THAT IT WOULD PROBE the question of whether or not the Soviet Union and Cuba are backing the rebels in Central America. They failed to deliver on that promise. They didn't turn up a single Marxist in the countries under the gun who would admit that they were getting help from Cuba. In an article on the El Salvadoran guerrillas in The New York Times on March 18, 1982, Alan Riding wrote: "And finally, the guerrillas now concede, Cuba agreed to supply them with the necessary armaments--many of them transshipped through Nicaragua--to enable them to open their 'final offensive' on January 10, 1981." On March 23, a Times editorial said, "In Central America today, Marxists make no secret whatever of their debts to Cuba." Isn't it strange that CBS News didn't discover that? Or did they just spike it?
FREQUENTLY I AM ASKED IF IT WOULD NOT BE HELPFUL TO PROTEST TO THE ADVERTISERS who sponsor programs of this type. It might do some good, even though our giant corporations who pay for such advertising usually reply to such protests with form letters saying that they can't interfere with the content of news programs. However, if they get enough protests, I think that they might sit up and take notice. I will list below those who sponsored commercials on "El Salvador in Revolt." We have also been asked about sponsors of Ed Asner's show, "Lou Grant." I will list some of those also. Asner, who is president of the Screen Actors Guild, is raising money to help the Salvadoran rebels buy medical supplies. His show is frequently a vehicle for leftwing propaganda.
I IMAGINE THAT I SPEAK FOR ALL THE MEMBERS OF AIM IN EXPRESSING OUR DEEP APPRECIATION to Ambassador Shelby Cullom Davis for a grant of $55,000 to Accuracy in Media to support our work. Arab. Davis, who heads the investment-banking firm of Shelby Cullom Davis & Co. in New York, has been a very generous supporter of AIM's work for many years. He first began contributing to AIM while he was ambassador to Switzerland, and we are most grateful to him not only for this latest major grant, but also for the faith that he has shown in AIM since the days when we could afford nothing more than desk space in a secretarial office.
Nissan Motor Corp. Hiroshi Majima, Pres. 18501S. Figueroa Carson, CA 90248
American Home Products Corp. John W. Culligan, Chairman 685 Third Avenue New York, N.Y. 10017
Purolator, Inc. Nicholas F. Brady, Chairman 255 Old New Brunswick Rd. Piscataway, N.J. 08854
Campbell Soup Co. John Dorrance, Chairman Campbell Place Camden, N.J. 08101 (Pepperidge Farm Breads)
Miles Laboratories, Inc. Theodor Heinrichs, Chairman 1127 Myrtle Street Elkhart, IN 46515 (Alka-Seltzer)
N. American Philips Corp. Pieter J. Vink, Chairman 100 East 42nd Street New York, N.Y. 10037 (Norelco shavers)
Interbank Card Assn. John J. Reynolds, Pres. 888 Seventh Avenue New York, N.Y. 10019 (Master Card)
Bob's Big Boy Elmo Geoghegan, V.P. 1001 East Colorado Glendale, CA 91205
Getty Oil Company Sidney Petersen, Chairman 3810 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90010
Chrysler Corporation Lee Iacocca, Chairman 12000 Lynn Townsend Drive Highland Park, MI 48288
Banfi Products Corp. John Mariani, Jr., President 200 Sherwood Avenue Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735 (Riunite wine)
Ragu Foods, Inc. George F. Goebeler, President 33 Benedict Place Greenwich, CT 14606 (Spaghetti sauce)
Holiday Inns, Inc. Roy E. Winegardner, Chairman 3742 Lamar Avenue Memphis, TN 38195
Mennen Company George S. Mennen, Chairman Morristown, N.J. 07960 (Deodorant)
Sterling Drug, Inc. W. Clark Wescoe, Chairman 90 Park Avenue New York, N.Y. 10016 (Lysol cleaner, Bayer asperin)
SPONSORS OF ED ASNER'S "LOU GRANT SHOW" -- March 8, 1982 (partial list)
Noxell Corp. G. Lloyd Bunting, Ch'mn. P.O. Box 1799 Baltimore, Md. 21203
Ford Motor Co. Philip Caldwell, Chmn. The American Road Dearborn, MI 48121
Ace Hardware Corp. Arthur H. Krausman, 2200 Kensington Ct. Oak Brook, IL 60521
Keebler Co. Thos. Garvin, Pres. One Hollow Tree Lane Elmhurst, IL 60126
Kraft, Inc. Kraft, Inc. A.W. Woelfle, Prs. Glenview, IL 60025
General Mills, Inc. E. Robt. Kinney, Chmn. 9200 Wayzala Blvd. Minneapolis, MN 55440
Emery Air Freight John C. Emery, Chmn. Wilton, CT 06897