Fed­er­ally funded Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí spews anti-Semitic slan­der

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Opinion - Fred Grimm

Our money paid for this ly­ing anti-Semitic screed.

It was broad­cast in May, five months be­fore a South Flor­ida po­lit­i­cal fa­natic mailed a pipe bomb to Ge­orge Soros, fa­vorite tar­get of anti-Semites and their right-wing en­ablers. Ce­sar Sayoc, charged with send­ing bombs to Soros and 13 other per­ceived en­e­mies of Don­ald Trump, was an­i­mated by crazy talk em­a­nat­ing from the un­hinged far-right me­dia.

Ap­par­ently, the un­hinged far-right me­dia in­cludes Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí, a tax­payer-funded relic of the cold war and a fa­mously in­ef­fec­tive dis­sem­i­na­tor of anti-Cas­tro pro­pa­ganda, sus­tained by Con­gress (with $800 mil­lion so far) as a po­lit­i­cal sop to Cuban ex­ile hard­lin­ers.

On May 15, Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí, which op­er­ates out of stu­dios in Do­ral, broad­cast a

15-minute seg­ment in­vok­ing that hack­neyed trope about Jewish fi­nanciers con­trol­ling the world. The video, with cheesy mu­sic, at­tacked Soros, an

88-year-old Hun­gar­ian-born Holo­caust sur­vivor, as a “mul­ti­mil­lion­aire Jew” and a “non-be­liev­ing Jewish fi­nan­cial spec­u­la­tor of flex­i­ble morals.”

Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí added the truly start­ing news, for those of us who re­mem­ber mort­gage­backed se­cu­ri­ties and credit de­fault swaps, that Soros was the very “ar­chi­tect of the 2008 fi­nan­cial col­lapse.”

Soros’ re­pute stems from his Open So­ci­ety Foun­da­tions which, since 1984, has con­trib­uted more than $14 bil­lion to groups that ad­vance such ob­jec­tional causes as hu­man rights, the rule of law, a free press, ed­u­ca­tion, pub­lic health and LGBT across the world.

Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí, how­ever, re­peated scur­rilous claims that Soros was “fi­nanc­ing anti­estab­lish­ment move­ments” in­tent on “desta­bi­liz­ing so­ci­eties and cul­tures.” That he sup­ported nar­coter­ror­ists and en­abled Cuban med­dling in Latin Amer­ica. All this, just “to fill his pock­ets,”

At the time, hardly any­one no­ticed that a fed­eral agency was spew­ing anti-Semite con­spir­acy the­o­ries. Per­haps, be­cause the broad­casts com­mand such a sparse au­di­ence. But last month, the Cuban Tri­an­gle, a Wash­ing­ton-based blog that tracks Cuban is­sues, fea­tured a re­port on the video. Mother Jones, fol­lowed by other me­dia, picked up the story.

Ini­tially, for­mer Mi­ami Mayor Tomás P. Re­gal­ado, who landed the job as direc­tor of the Of­fice of Cuba Broad­cast­ing (which over­sees Martí) in June, seemed to shrug off the Soros at­tack. Just needed more bal­ance, he told

That changed af­ter Ari­zona Sen. Jeff Flake read the story. He was en­raged by the no­tion of "tax­payer-funded anti-semitism" and de­manded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. “At a time when hate-filled rhetoric is hav­ing a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact in­side the United States, it is ir­re­spon­si­ble for any agency of the fed­eral govern­ment to per­pet­u­ate un­founded con­spir­acy the­o­ries . . ." Flake said in a let­ter to Re­gal­ado’s bosses at the U.S. Agency for Global Me­dia.

Sud­denly, Re­gal­ado de­cided the Soros re­port – which was ap­par­ently cob­bled to­gether from var­i­ous YouTube videos re­trieved from the In­ter­net -was rep­re­hen­si­ble. The re­porter and news direc­tor re­spon­si­ble for the broad­cast were put on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave and the video was pulled from the Martí web­site.

Of course, the broad­cast only added to the al­tright’s vil­i­fi­ca­tion cam­paign against Soros. Lately, he has been ac­cused of hir­ing faux pro­test­ers to par­tic­i­pate the Women’s March (dubbed by Fox News as “Ge­orge Soros’ March on Wash­ing­ton”), teen-led demon­stra­tions against gun vi­o­lence, anti–Brett Ka­vanaugh protests in the halls of Con­gress. Even the mi­grants march­ing out of Cen­tral Amer­ica.

As if with­out Soros, it would never have oc­curred to women that the White House was oc­cu­pied by a gen­i­talia-grab­bing misog­y­nist, or to high school­ers that lu­natics with as­sault weapons were on a na­tion­wide killing spree, or to sex­ual ha­rass­ment vic­tims that Ka­vanaugh was con­firmed as a Supreme Court jus­tice de­spite ques­tions about his past. Or that it was Soros money – not vi­o­lence and poverty – that con­vinced a band of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans to head for El Norte.

But Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí is an en­tity of the U.S. govern­ment’s Of­fice of Cuban Broad­cast­ing, with a $28 mil­lion an­nual bud­get and a fed­eral man­date to prac­tice ac­tual jour­nal­ism.

In a way, the con­tro­versy around the Soros video is only the­o­ret­i­cal. Ra­dio Martí, which be­gan broad­cast­ing in 1985 (adding TV five years later), has long been jammed by the Cuban govern­ment. Martí is like the fa­bled tree fall­ing in the for­est with no one to see.

A 2010 in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the U.S. Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee found that Martí has “re­ceived neg­li­gi­ble sup­port from among the Cuban peo­ple and has had al­most no im­pact on Cuban Govern­ment be­hav­ior and pol­icy.” The re­port re­counted prob­lems “since its cre­ation” with “minis­cule au­di­ence size, Cuban Govern­ment jam­ming, and al­le­ga­tions of crony­ism and malfea­sance” and “fail­ure to ad­here to ac­cepted jour­nal­is­tic stan­dards.” in­clud­ing “broad­cast­ing un­sub­stan­ti­ated re­ports as le­git­i­mate news sto­ries

Eight years later, Sen. Flake’s an­gry let­ter echoed that crit­i­cism, call­ing Ra­dio Tele­visión Martí “a waste of money” on which “hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars have been squan­dered over the years on the pro­duc­tion of lack­lus­ter pro­gram­ming that has con­sis­tently fallen short of U.S. Goals to pro­mote democ­racy in­side Cuba. Even worse, for years much of the con­tent has never even reached its in­tended au­di­ence . . .”

And now the at­tack on Soros. “The rise of an­ti­Semitism in­side the United States is bad enough,” Flake wrote. “Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers should not be fund­ing its dis­sem­i­na­tion.”

Fred Grimm (@grim­m_fred or [email protected]), a long­time res­i­dent of Fort Laud­erdale, has worked as a re­porter and colum­nist in South Flor­ida since 1976.

Mother Jones.

Fred Grimm (@grim­m_fred or [email protected]), a long­time res­i­dent of Fort Laud­erdale, has worked as a re­porter and colum­nist in South Flor­ida since 1976.

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