By Daniel Tencer, reporter The Raw Story
Fox News is staying silent after bloggers and commentators criticized the news network for a January 13 report on its Web site that stated Cuba was "absent" from global aid efforts in Haiti.
Observers note that the communist country was, in fact, one of the first to arrive after the earthquake that is now estimated to have taken the lives of 200,000 people. That has led some bloggers to accuse Fox of using the devastation in Haiti to propagandize against Cuba.
In an online news story entitled "US Spearheads Global Response to Haiti Earthquake," Fox reported that "one geographically close country is conspicuously absent from the roster of helping hands. Cuba, which had evacuated some of its residents as a precaution in case the earthquake triggered a tsunami, has so far not offered any assistance publicly to its devastated island neighbor."
"The opposite is the case," reports Tony Iltis at Green Left Online. "At the time the earthquake struck, Cuba already had 344 doctors and paramedics working in Haiti. Also, in the past 12 years 450 young Haitians have graduated as doctors from Cuban colleges, free of charge."
From January 13, more teams of Cuban health workers, accompanied by Haitian medical students studying in Cuba, began arriving in Haiti with medical supplies.
A January 12 Granma article said that, within a week of the earthquake: “Cuban doctors in the Haitian capital [had held] 13,418 consultancies, with 1,078 operations, more than 550 of them considered major surgery. The Cuban doctors have also assisted 38 births.”
Notably, on the same day that Fox published its report, the network also ran an article from the Associated Press that stated, "Cuba, which already had hundreds of doctors in Haiti, treated injured in field hospitals."
Fox doesn't appear to have corrected the error. As of press time, the network had not responded to Raw Story's repeated requests for comment.
For nearly two weeks media watchdogs have been complaining that Fox News has been minimizing its coverage of the Haiti earthquake. MediaMatters reported that, in the first full day after the earthquake -- Jan. 13 -- MSNBC devoted 20 times as much time to Haiti as Fox News, and on January 14, the ratio was roughly five to one.
But other observers say the lack of coverage is more widespread than Fox News. Freelance journalist Dave Lindorff reported last week that Cuba was commonly overlooked when US news outlets reported on international aid efforts.
Far from “doing nothing” about the disaster as the right-wing propagandists at Fox-TV were charging, Cuba has been one of the most effective and critical responders to the crisis, because it had set up a medical infrastructure before the quake, which was able to mobilize quickly and start treating the victims.
If Cuba is to share any blame for the misconception that it's doing nothing, it may be that the government in Havana simply didn't put out a press release fast enough. A Jan. 13 article in Granma, the Cuban state-run publication, didn't mention Cuban relief efforts. That led bloggers to post the article as proof Cuba was absent from the rescue effort.
But news of the country's efforts is slowly beginning to trickle into the United States. On Monday, NPR reported that "the day after the earthquake struck the Cuban doctors reopened two hospitals. Since the Cubans live in the poorest neighborhoods amongst the most disadvantaged Haitians they were actually the first responders."
Note: Fox News didn't cover the Haiti telethon.