[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: DeFede on Spanish Language TV

Thursday, August 04, 2005

DeFede on Spanish Language TV

Last week I promised I wouldn't post anymore on DeFede, at least for a while. I guess that "while" has ended.

There's a show on Spanish language TV here in Miami called "A Mano Limpia" (translates to "With Clean Hands"...meaning with nothing to hide) which airs from 8 to 9 PM on Channel 41. It is hosted by Oscar Haza, who in my mind is one of the best journalists in Miami. His shows usually deal with either Cuba or Venezuela, with the occasional foray into local topics. I watch it almost religiously when I'm home at that hour.

Last night, Haza invited none other than Jim DeFede for a one-on-one interview regarding his firing, the Teele suicide, Luis Posada Carriles, and his recent visit to Cuba. It was a fascinating interview. Too bad the translator speaking over DeFede was more of a nuisance to me than anything else, but it was an understandable part of the program.

DeFede described in detail the calls he received from Teele the day he committed suicide, as well as his initial conversation with his bosses and the subsequent firing. According to DeFede, Herald publisher Jesus Diaz initially was willing to back him up despite his illegal taping of Teele. In fact, DeFede was told he was going to have a front page story the following day to describe what happened. As he worked on his story for the following day's paper, he was summoned back into Diaz's office. This time, human resource personnel were in the office. He was told that he was fired. The thing I found quite surprising and eye-opening is that executive editor Tom Fiedler was in California for a meeting, and according to Diaz, made the decision to fire DeFede.

So basically, what we have is that DeFede admits to taping Teele without his consent, he's asked to transcribe the conversion on the tape, is told he will have a front page story the next day, then told he's fired by someone who's not even in Miami.

This sequence of events made me rethink my position on the firing. As anyone who's followed this blog knows, I was in favor of the firing. However after the interview yesterday, after seeing and hearing DeFede answer Haza's questions, after hearing the details of what transpired, I must admit that I am vacillating.

Yes, the Herald has every right to fire someone for violating one of its rules. But something here doesn't smell good. You would have thought that a decision such as that one would have been made by Fiedler on a person-to-person basis with DeFede, not relayed to Diaz from California. You also would have thought that DeFede wouldn't have been told to start writing his front-page piece for the next day's paper.

I don't think there's a conspiracy in place, I just think the Herald made a hasty decision during a tough time, just as DeFede himself when he decided to roll the tape.

Looking back, a couple of days off for DeFede before making a decision on him would have been best.

5 Comments:

Blogger Juan Paxety said...

Unfortunately, backtabbing and weasely management decisions are all too common in the news business. I'm not surprised at all.

7:21 AM, August 05, 2005  
Anonymous daniel said...

robert
i think youre doing the right thing in rethinking your position.. lets face it, defede was GOOD at what he did.. sadly in this town, if you dont begin and end every sentence with "death to fidel, viva el embargo", anything you do or say will be suspect.. how many times have you seen letters to the herald where no matter what the topic of the article was, the writer asks "why dont you write about fidel, abuses in cuba, etc etc etc..." now i know its not as BAD as that, but the "problem" people had with defede was the way he approached the "cuba" issue.. the way he wrote about posada carriles.. he went after NUMEROUS politicians, anglo, hispanic, black, and called a spade a spade.. defede wrote about local politics/topics, but it does not mean everything revolved around cuba.. and on his last trip, when he interviewed alarcon, it wasnt enough, no no the people wanted tougher questions.. he wrote an tough, heart strings account of how the travel restrictions go deeper than "us foreign policy" towards cuba, but since it goes "against" what many feel, it was discounted.. i think too many were quick to dance on his grave, and it had NOTHING to do with right or wrong on the teele situation and EVERYTHING to do with his stance towards cuba

10:36 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Robert said...

daniel,

DeFede pissed off a lot of people, not just Cubans, for different reasons. The nature of his columns was to stir things up. I didn't agree with most of his columns. He sometimes attacked people just for the sake of attacking.
His stance on Cuba isn't as radical as some people think, but I still don't see eye to eye with him. He's quick to condemn Posada, yet was soft on Teele. That right there is a fair and valid point. He also wrote some pretty bad stuff about Cubans when he was with the New Times, a lot of it was unfair. He actually softened up quite a bit with the Herald.

The bottom line is that DeFede didn't approach his columns so that people would love and agree every word he wrote. It's OK to disagree with him, I'm sure he didn't mind one bit.

11:03 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Robert,

You know position DeFede. I probably agreed with him maybe 1% of the time. In fact his anti-Cuban rants pissed me off something fierce. But I'd like to think I'm intellectually honest enough to separate my personal feelings for the man and look at his firing objectively. I think the Herald was trying to distance itself from Teele's suicide (hard to do since he did it on their property) but they basically wanted wash their hands of the "media vs. Teele" story. I also think it's a joke that Saint Art is now being eulogized as this great man. I'm sure that what we know is just the tip of the iceberg. Just another example of how certain public figures are treated with kidd gloves while others are smeared.

The Herald can fire whoever they want whenever they want but the reasons were bullshit. Anyway it's what expect from that fishwrap.

10:03 PM, August 07, 2005  
Anonymous Kathleen said...

Ok, here's my take on this. The fact that the HR dept was brought in tells me they were worried about litigation. So they went by the book, the guy in California made the call based on solid HR advice. It might not be nice, or fair but that is standard procedure.

2:31 AM, August 09, 2005  

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