When the weather turns sour, most people tune into The Weather Channel. While the outlet usually does a good job covering meteorological phenomena and their human toll, what it’s shown over the last few days is that it is no better than the mainstream media when it comes to covering anything having to do with Cuba.
With much fanfare, The Weather Channel announced that for the first time in its 30-year history it had a correspondent reporting from Cuba. The man they sent is Mike Seidel, a longtime Weather Channel veteran.
At about noon EDT on Saturday, while watching The Weather Channel for an update on possible landfall of Tropical Storm Isaac in Florida, I was treated to an incredible piece of unjournalism. There was Seidel standing on the beach at an all-inclusive resort reserved for foreigners in Varadero, on Cuba’s northwest coast, despite the fact that Isaac was going to make landfall on Cuba’s southeast coast. Seidel assured us that “we picked Varadero because of meteorological reasons and are lucky because we’re staying at a resort with all the creature comforts of home.”
Seidel’s stand-up piece featured what he referred to as a “Cubano pool boy” dragging in and securing the lounge chairs. The video has since been purged from The Weather Channel’s website.
Over the course of the weekend, Seidel assured us that the Cuban military takes tropical storms and hurricanes seriously and is known for its “large-scale evacuations.” In speaking about the Cuban government, Seidel dutifully parroted the regime’s propaganda. “They tend to over-prepare, they don’t mess around. Fidel Castro’s mantra has been, really, we don’t want to lose any lives,” Seidel said. Of course, in Cuba the only legal arbiter of who lives and dies is Castro himself. It should be noted that Seidel gives no basis for these judgments and that he was making them from several hundred kilometers away, probably while enjoying a nice Havana Club Mojito.