More shake-out from the Marti story, the recently published Hoyt Report , and Oscar Corral's recent series on USAID's Cuban missions. Miami Herald Editor Tom Fiedler informed his staff today that today's El Nuevo Herald, which is published in the same building and owned by the same McClatchy company as the Miami Herald, libeled reporter Oscar Corral, who broke the story in August.
In an e-mail to the entire newsroom with the subject line "Truth to power," Fiedler wrote that a freelance columnist committed a "blood libel" against Corral in today's version of the Spanish-language newspaper. He wrote that he's investigating who the columnist is and how "how such an outrageous character defamation" was allowed to occur.
I have found the column in question on the El Nuevo Herald web site, but am not sure if it has been altered since Fiedler's e-mail was sent. The writer is Nicolas Perez Diaz-Arguelles.
UPDATED: Here is the pertinent passage from the Diaz-Arguelles column as translated by New Times receptionist Julia Hallon:
It is also suspicious that Oscar Corral appears to be the bad guy in the picture again. And the question is if Max Lesnick and his friends from [Cuban intelligence agency] DGI of the Cuban government are behind Oscar Corral, which could be or not be true? Who is the highest ranking Miami Herald executive that is behind Oscar Corral? A second foolish question. What are the MacClatchy Company owners waiting for to put out the fire that the Miami Herald provoked in the Cuban Exiles?
So the slightly shaded allegation in El Nuevo Herald is that Corral is a Cuban spy (and it might be noted that McClatchy is misspelled -- not a very smooth move considering it's the newspaper's owner). And there is an inference that a high executive at the Herald is also working for Cuba. With tripe like that published under the company's own banner, it's easy to see why Fiedler would be so steamed.
The entire Fiedler e-mail comes after the jump.
From: Fiedler, Tom Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2006 12:09 PM To: .MIA Newsroom Subject: Truth to power Importance: High
Oscar Corral's stories questioning the spending of public dollars in programs here under the guise of restoring freedom to Cuba have struck the nerves -- and threatened the wallets -- of powerful people in this community who have access to the Spanish-language media, including, sadly, the opinion page of El Nuevo Herald. Today a freelance columnist, in an attempt to justify allowing these businesses to feed at the public trough, committed a blood libel against Oscar directly and this newsroom indirectly.
I don't know at this point who this columnist is or how such an outrageous character defamation was allowed; I will get back to you if and when I have something to share. But I do know that we will respond in the best traditions of journalism -- by supporting Oscar in continuing to report this story wherever it leads and by publishing our findings in the columns of The Miami Herald.