Press Release

 

For Release: April 28, 2000
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x106 or [email protected]


Blacks Protest Media Bias Against Cuban-Americans

Improper Racial Attacks are Motivated by Political Differences

Racial bias of any sort should be abhorrent to our society, but media coverage of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle shows that the establishment media has not been discreet about its dislike of Miami's Cuban-American community. Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 condemn the media outlets choosing to demonize a segment of America's diverse population to enforce a political agenda.

News coverage of the legal deadlock over whether Elian Gonzalez should be returned to his Cuban national father or remain with his Cuban-American relatives while his petition for political asylum is decided portrays Cuban-Americans in a negative manner. The New York Times referred to Miami as a "banana republic," and other media terms used to describe its residents include "zealots," "hotheads," "fiery" and "militants." NBC host Katie Couric alleged the community tolerates "no dissent or freedom of political expression" and Newsweek implied it is not a community that "treasures its children" like Cuba.

Pointing out the media bias, U.S. News and World Report columnist John Leo wrote, "The media try hard to see each story from the point of view of the weakest ethnic group involved. It's the easiest way to frame a story, get your editor's attention and demonstrate social conscience... The Gonzalez case is a remarkable exception to this rule. Possibly for the first time, the national news media felt free to shower contempt on a non-Caucasian ethnic minority... Some behavior of the Cuban-Americans in the Gonzalez case has been extreme, but no more extreme than behavior of other members of other minority groups that the media always treat gently."

In the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist John O'Sullivan explained, "Since it is well known that these are right-wing anti-Communists who vote Republican, they do not benefit from the conventional tenderness of the liberal opinion towards minority groups." Black conservatives - who are a minority within a minority, feel this same bias. The Congressional Black Caucus shuns Republican Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, as it did former congressman Gary Franks of Connecticut. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the target of protests by liberal blacks when he gives public speeches. Presidential candidate Alan Keyes, despite doing well in early straw polls and the Iowa caucuses, garnered little media exposure that could have given his candidacy momentum.

"It is funny how the liberal press has gone from a position of understanding and tolerance during the Clinton impeachment hearings to an intolerant stance toward Elian Gonzalez's custody battle," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "The press, in their bias, shows only too clearly their role as one of the legs of the Clinton propaganda machine."

Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.

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