Bush Administration Bribes Reporters

Brian Zick

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Reuters reportsAt least 10 Florida journalists received regular payments from a U.S. government program aimed at undermining the Cuban government of Fidel Castro, The Miami Herald reported on Friday.Total payments since 2001 ranged from $1,550 to $174,753 per journalist, according to the newspaper, which said it found no instance in which those involved had disclosed that they were being paid by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting.That office runs Radio and TV Marti, U.S. government programs broadcast to Cuba to promote democracy and freedom on the communist island. Its programming cannot be broadcast within the United States because of anti-propaganda laws.The Cuban government has long contended that some Spanish-language journalists in Miami were on the U.S. government payroll.The Herald said two of the journalists receiving the payments worked for its Spanish-language sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, and a third was a freelance contributor for that newspaper, which fired all three after learning of the payments.Journalism ethics experts called the payments a fundamental conflict of interest that undermines the credibility of reporters meant to objectively cover issues affecting U.S. policy toward Cuba. (…) Pedro Roig, director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting since 2003, said he had sought to improve the quality of news by, among other things, hiring more Cuban exile journalists as contractors. He told the newspaper it was the journalists' responsibility to adhere to their own ethics and rules. (In other words, "I just paid the bribes, it was their responsibility not to accept 'em.")via Josh Marshall, who foresees many more shoes dropping.

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