...to defend his attack on Cuban radio. I just heard parts of an interview with Tom Fiedler, the executive editor of The Miami Herald. The interview was conducted by Bernadette Pardo and Guillermo Benitez on WQBA.
Fiedler was quoted in today's paper as having said "22 people who listen to Cuban radio'' were being stirred up by ''little chihuahuas nipping at our heels.''
In defending his comment Fiedler explains that he was only specifically talking about one station. That station is WAQI (Radio Mambi), the sister station of WQBA. Fiedler claims that the station has insisted on accusing The Herald of becoming a tool of the Castro dictatorship.
Fiedler apologized if his remarks were taken as racist. He claims that the choice of the word Chihuahua was only to illustrate a small dog and that he did not mean to specifically choose a type of dog that is associated with being Hispanic.
When asked if he was familiar with Radio Mambi's considerable Artbitron ratings, Fiedler said that he was using hyperbole to to illustrate a point in a "locker room pep talk" environment.
This is the second time in as many weeks that a Herald employee has used a canine reference to describe at least part of the Cuban-American community. In a September 17th column Ana Menendez said:
"One crisis and we Cubans set upon each other like a pack of rabid dogs, scratching and snarling to the amusement of the few outsiders who still give a damn about Cuba."Speaking on WQBA this afternoon, Sun-Sentinel columnist Guillermo Martinez said that in its new ethical guidelines the Herald should include a chapter about how to avoid calling members of the Cuban-American community dogs.
For her part, Ninoska Perez Castellon, who is talk show host on the station Fiedler referred to, says that questions remain about how the Cuban government knew about the content of the Herald's [then] forthcoming article about the Martí Moonlighters. Cuban state television was proclaiming essentially the same story that the Herald would publish on Sept 8th.
I think it's a valid question for Radio Mambi, and particularly Perez Castellon (because she was named in the Sept. 8th article) to ask.
In my mind either the Cuban government gave someone at The Herald (or the Chicago Tribune that was investigating the story too) the idea to write the story or someone at The Herald leaked the information to the Cuban government. Neither scenario is particularly pleasant for Fiedler and the Herald.