Good Riddance to Castro Propagandist Jon Stewart

Cuba's oppressors lose a valuable media ally.

“What Walter Cronkite was to an earlier generation — an utterly trusted voice — Stewart has been to Millenials,” recently gushed the Boston Globe.

Indeed, Jon Stewart’s educational influence on Americans under 40 has become a cliché -- as a boast by liberals, as a jeer by conservatives. And on some issues, at least, Stewart proudly cited his sources:

“All I know about Cuba in the 1950’s I learned from the Godfather II!” (Jon Stewart, July 23, 2008.)

On the very date of that boast, Francis Ford Coppola was replaced as top educational source on Cuba for America’s top educational source for young Americans by Castro’s very Ministry of Propaganda. Hence the “McCarthyite” (as it undoubtedly sounds to many) title of this article. So please hear me out:

“I LOVE this book!” Jon Stewart gushed upon greeting author TJ English, who was publicizing his book titled "Havana Nocture; How the Mob Owned Cuba, and Lost it to the Revolution," on The Daily Show. Stewart’s compliment for English’s book came seconds after his compliment for Godfather II, that famous historical documentary.

“This is the TRUE story of Cuba!” continued the multi-Emmy, Peabody, and Television Critics Award winner (for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information). “A fascinating book!” hailed Stewart, barely containing himself.

The primary source for the book Stewart was hyperventilating over – a source cited no fewer than 72 times in quotes and footnotes -- is an intelligence apparatchik of Castro’s propaganda ministry named Enrique Cirules.

Technically, Cirules works for the Cuban regime’s “La Casa de las Americas.” This government bureau publishes and promotes the Castro regime’s propaganda in books and articles under the guise of “art.” In 1983 a high-ranking Cuban Intelligence officer named Jesus Perez Mendez defected to the U.S. and spilled his guts to the FBI. Among his spillings we encounter the following: "The Cuban DGI [Directorio General de Inteligencia, Castro's KGB-trained Secret service] controls Casa de las Americas.”

“We were hoping to have Senor Perez-Mendes on tonight to contribute his views on the veracity of your book’s claims, Mr English,” would have been a properly snarky Stewart introduction to English. “But were thwarted upon discovering that he lives under FBI protection for fear of being assassinated by the KGB-trained folks who hosted you in Cuba and collaborated with you in writing the book!”

“Mr English, in your book’s acknowledgements you describe this Castroite apparatchik Enrique Cirules as a 'Cuban author,'" the properly snarky and Peabody-winning Stewart might have continued. “Wouldn’t this be like describing Julius Streicher as a 'German author,' and Ilya Ehrenburg as a 'Russian author'?"

Instead, minutes into the interview and in response to another Godfather-ite cliché by the smug TJ English, Stewart gushed: "WOW! So the Mob actually built Cuba's economy! So it was actually worse than shown in Godfather II!"

I know, I know, the “the Mob ran pre-Castro Cuba” meme is so entrenched into the worldwide media/Hollywood/academia Cuba narrative that perhaps we shouldn’t single out Jon Stewart as a Castro dupe when so many other Castro dupes parrot the same propaganda every time Cuba hits the news cycle. To wit:

“I mean everybody who saw Godfather II knows what it was like when Castro took over,” NBC’s Chris Matthews, winner of the “David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Broadcast,” Oct. 23, 2011.)  

“Under the thuggish reign of US-backed Fulgencio Batista…the US mafia, having been dislodged from American cities by the crusading Kefauver committee, took over much of Havana, operating gambling rackets, drug rings, and prostitution” (Boston Globe, May, 4, 2014).

Actually, 1955 Cuba contained a grand total of three gambling casinos, the biggest was at the Tropicana and featured ten gambling tables and thirty slot machines. The Hotel Nacional featured seven roulette wheels and twenty-one slot machines. By contrast, in 1955 the single Riviera Casino in Las Vegas featured twenty tables and one hundred and sixteen slot machines. This means that in 1955: one Las Vegas Casino had more gambling action than all of Cuba.

Also interesting: According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Commission the typical tourist spends five days in their city and spends an average of $580 ($75 in 1957 dollars) on gambling, the main motive for 90 percent of visitors. Well, throughout the 1950s Cuba averaged 180,000 tourists a year. Let's assume ALL those tourists —men, women, adolescents, children—did nothing in Cuba but gamble, and at the Las Vegas rate.

Well, this would mean an extremely generous total of $13.5 million for Cuba's gambling industry annually. But in 1957 Cuba's Gross Domestic product was $2.7 billion, and Cuba's foreign receipts were $752 million. How could the beneficiaries of that miniscule fraction of Cuba's income “take over” one of the wealthiest, most modern and economically diverse cities in the Western hemisphere?

Here’s another snark-opportunity for Jon Stewart’s writers in case they again host TJ English: “Mr English, your book claims that: 'Every Monday at noon, a bagman for mobster Meyer Lansky delivered a satchel filled with $1.28 million in cash that was to be delivered to Batista.'"

“So Mr. English, are you claiming that Mob chief Meyer Lansky was slipping Batista MORE every week than the COMBINED annual GROSS from EVERY casino in Cuba, including those unaffiliated with Meyer Lansky?”

Also interesting: In 1953 more Cubans vacationed in the U.S. than Americans vacationed in Cuba. How could the wretched and brutalized residents of that plundered and impoverished nation (as the Boston Globe, New York Times, Hollywood, NPR, Jon Stewart, etc. depict it) have possibly pulled that off?