'Nightly News' Calls Cuban Defections a 'Setback'

     Who would have thought a third-world nation held back by the rule of a socialist dictator could be so much fun?

     A report on the May 18 “NBC Nightly News” featured the Cuban National Circus, which lost 11 performers to defections when it toured abroad. Most times defections from authoritarian regimes are viewed as a good thing but NBC characterized them as a “setback.”


     “Then late last year, when they were finally good enough to tour overseas, there was another setback: 11 performers, including most of the trapeze artists, defected,” NBC correspondent Mark Potter said.

     “In the 1990s, when the Cuban economy collapsed, life on the island became very difficult,” Potter said. “With no time for frivolity, the circus folded. But a few years ago, as the economy improved, circus performers went back to the gym to see if they could get started again.”

     But Potter didn’t explain just how “improved” Cuba’s economy has become. Cuba has a per capita GDP of $4,500, versus a U.S. per capita GDP of $46,000.

     Cuba also has a deplorable human rights record. But despite that, NBC seems to have a fascination with Cuba. In June 2007, “Today” aired a segment about what a great place Cuba is, reported by host Matt Lauer.

     Earlier in May, CBS’s “Early Show” touted “reforms” under Raúl Castro in Cuba, but The Wall Street Journal said hopes were “misplaced, or at best premature.”

     “But Raúl's objective is to placate a restless population, while the regime tightens its grip on economic power,” said the April 21 Journal. “The regime warned democracy advocates last week not to interpret the reforms as a weakening of its resolve to preserve socialism.”