Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Formalization of the U.S. - Cuban...
 Invasion tensions heighten
 Bay of pigs
 Tractor-prisoner swap
 Punta del Este conference
 Focus on the Soviet Union
 Cuban missile crisis
 Conflict resolution
 Biographical sketch
 Signature page

Group Title: Critical analysis of how selected Florida newspapers reported the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis
Title: A critical analysis of how selected Florida newspapers reported the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00025918/00001
 Material Information
Title: A critical analysis of how selected Florida newspapers reported the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis
Physical Description: iv, 95 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Shelton, Richard Dudley, 1939-
Publication Date: 1971
Subject: Journalism -- Political aspects -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Journalism -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962   ( lcsh )
History -- Cuba -- Invasion, 1961   ( lcsh )
Journalism and Communications thesis M.A.J.C
Dissertations, Academic -- Journalism and Communications -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (M.A. in J. and Com.) -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 93-94.
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00025918
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000546189
oclc - 13189659
notis - ACX0148

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Formalization of the U.S. - Cuban rift
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    Invasion tensions heighten
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Bay of pigs
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
    Tractor-prisoner swap
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    Punta del Este conference
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Focus on the Soviet Union
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Cuban missile crisis
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
    Conflict resolution
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
    Biographical sketch
        Page 95
    Signature page
        Page 96
Full Text

A Critical Analysis of How

Selected Florida Newspapers

Reported the Bay of Pigs Invasion

and the Cuban Missile






Sincere appreciation is expressed to Dean John Paul

Jones, Dr. Harry H. Griggs and Professor Smith Kirkpatrick

for their encouragement, guidance and kind cooperation in

the completion of this study.

A very special thanks goes to my wife, Dawn, and my

daughters Lynne, Diana and Laura for their most patient and

loving support and encouragement.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ......................................

ABSTRACT OF THESIS ........... ... ...... .........

INTRODUCTION .......................................




III BAY OF PIGS.............................

IV TRACTOR-PRISONER SWAP...................


VI LIBERATION....................... .......


VIII CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS....................

IX CONFLICT RESOLUTION.......................

CONCLUSIONS .. .... ................ ...............

BIBLIOGRAPHY. ...... ....................... .........

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................... ...........
















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate Council of the
University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Master of Arts in Journalism and Communications


Richard Dudley Shelton

December, 1971
Chairman: Dean John Paul Jones
Major Department: Journalism and Communications

The press coverage of Cuban events has historically been

highly controversial. This controversy reached particularly

bitter heights during the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban

missile crisis. Some critics charged the press printed too

much about these events, others that they did not print

enough. Most agreed, however, that the coverage was poor and

often misleading.LJ ---

The news and editorial treatment of the major Cuban
events occurring during the 27-month period from January,

1961, to March, 1963, was examined and analyzed in five sel-

ected Florida newspapers.

fhe coverage given Cuba by these five newspapers during
this period can be described as intensive superficial cover-

age, lacking in important background information necessary to

place the news in proper perspective. Much of the coverage

was clouded by censorship and controlled news. The press, as

represented by the subject newspapers, did not do its job

well during this study period and earned the criticism leveled.


This thesis will examine and analyze how five selected

Florida daily newspapers covered the Cuban Bay of Pigs

invasion in 1961 and the missile crisis in 1962.

The press coverage of Cuban events has been highly /1

controversial since the "Yellow Journalism" days of the f(-

Spanish-American War. This controversy over the performance

of the press reached particularly bitter heights in recent

years during the Fidel Castro revolution and the following

Bay of Pigs invasion and Cuban missile crisis.

An examination of the criticism of the press during the

Castro revolution has been completed in a most interesting

University of Florida thesis study by Thomas M. Fullmer,

entitled "A Critical Analysis of How Selected Florida News-

papers Reported the Cuban Revolution."

Fullmer examined the coverage given selected important

events of the Castro revolution in light of the charges and

countercharges made against the press. Some critics charged

that "Castro was glamorized by the press and pictured as a

savior while his leftist tendencies were ignored." Others

charged that "the American press was too critical of the

Castro government and turned against it during the difficult


early weeks and months without sufficient justification....

and helped push Castro into the waiting and all too willing

arms of the Communists."

The conclusion of Fullmer's study was that the press had

not done its job in covering Cuba or the Castro revolution.

It had failed to be critical and accurately report the events

in Cuba leading up to the Castro revolution but during the

first two years of Castro's rule had been highly critical,

perhaps to the point of presenting an unbalanced picture of

the period.

Fullmer described the coverage given the Cuban revolution

during 1959 and 1960 as "intensive superficial coverage"2 of

the transient events while neglecting the important background

information which was necessary to place those events in

proper perspective.

This coverage did much to promote the illusions that

Cuba was facing eventual economic collapse and that the Cuban

people were ready to revolt against Castro. These illusions

led to the Bay of Pigs invasion and were disastrously refuted

by events there.

This thesis is, in effect, a continuation of Fullmer's-

study. The same subject newspapers are examined and the

methods of analysis are similar to Fullmer's, in that the

coverage given selected important events of the Bay of Pigs

1Thomas M. Fullmer, "A Critical Analysis of How Selected
Florida Newspapers Covered the Cuban Revolution" (unpublished
Master's Thesis, University of Florida, 1965), pp. 1-2.
2Ibid., p. 107.

invasion and Cuban missile crisis are critically examined in

light of controversial charges and countercharges leveled at

the press's performance.

The Bay of Pigs invasion coverage became as controversial

as the invasion itself, with critics blasting the press for

revealing too much about the impending invasion and others

charging that the press had not told enough, nor kept the

public informed.

Michael J. Francis, in a study of U.S.-Cuban relations,

points out that by April, 1961, the Cuban invasion plan was

"the worst-kept secret in the history of modern 'black-hand'

diplomacy. Most newspapers carried stories of the impending

action, although the stories generally did not directly tie

the United States to the operation but rather gave the

impression that it was an effort by Cubans held together by

their common goal."3

Conversely, Charles Collingwood, in an April 23, 1961,

C.B.S. newscast noted that:

As far as the public is concerned, last week's
explosion in Cuba took place in a sort of vacuum of
information....We now know that we were badly mis-
informed about most aspects of the Cuban situation.
Because no one told us, we did not know about
Castro's strength in his own country or about the
limited power of the underground in Cuba. We had not
been led to estimate the consequences of failure but
only of victory. Above all, we did not know the
extent to which the United States Government had
aided and abetted, financed and planned this operation.

3Michael J. Francis, "The U.S. Press and Castro: A Study
in Declining Relations," Journalism Quarterly, (Summer, 1967),
p. 264.

J. Allen Bradford, Jr., "The.Cuban Invasion: A Case
Study in'Foreign Affairs Reportin" (unpublished Master's
Thesis, George Washington University, 1966), p. 74.

Time magazine summed up the differences of opinion on

the invasion coverage in noting that the invasion "set some

kind of Journalistic record for coverage and non-coverage."5

The government was critical of the pre-invasion coverage

that had been given; the press was angry over being compro-

mised and misled and the public was confused and disgusted.

The Cuban missile crisis coverage received little

initial criticism in comparison, perhaps due to the level of

danger reached in the confrontation and the successful facing

down of the Soviets and removal of the missiles.

Criticism was voluminous, however, following the Soviet-

American resolution of the confrontation. The press sharply

criticized the Kennedy administration for controlling and

manipulating the news of the missile crisis and for using the

press coverage as a foreign policy tool. The administration -1

was critical of the press for its lack of cooperation in the

latter days of the crisis. Much of the public and some

members of the press were critical of the press's performance

in covering the crisis and in its dependence upon government

news releases.

This study covers the important Cuban events of the

27-month period from January, 1961, through March, 1963. It

picks up where Fullmer's earlier study of the Castro revo-

lution left off and carries through the growing confrontation

between the Soviet Union and U.S. over the presence of

communism in Cuba, at America's back door.

5Ibid., p. 2.

The events of this period resulted in several historic

watermarks--the introduction of a Communist nation into the

Western Hemisphere; the approach to the brink of World War III

and the turning point in the Soviet Union's Cold War use of

nuclear blackmail to further Communist expansion.

The selections of-specific time periods and issues of

the newspapers to be studied were made after determining the

major events occurring in this 27-month period, by use of the

New York Times index and various books, reports and articles.

The major events selected for study include the Bay of Pigs

invasion, tractor-prisoner exchange negotiations, Punta Del

Este Conference, Cuban arms buildup, missile crisis and the

prisoner ransom.

Microfilmed copies of the five subject newspapers were

extensively utilized in this study. Issues of each of the

five newspapers, from several days prior to the major events

through several days following the events, were examined. Due

to the length and continuing nature of many of the major

events, such as the missile crisis confrontation, the invasion

preparations and aftermath, the arms buildup and the prisoner

negotiations, a significant majority--approximately 75 per

cent--of all the five newspapers' issues published during

the study period were examined.

The papers examined were the Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune,

Orlando Sentinel, (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, and

Pensacola Journal. This is the same group of newspapers used

in Fullmer's study. They were selected as representative

papers covering various geographic areas of the state and

expressing varying editorial outlooks. These papers represent

approximately 80 per cent of the circulation of daily morning

newspapers in Florida.

The Miami Herald is the largest of the five papers

studied. The Herald's circulation during the 27-month period

studied averaged 318,923 on weekdays and 371,019 on Sundays,

covering not.only the Miami and Gold Coast area, but the

entire state as well. Miami was the refuge for most of the

Cubans who fled their homeland after the revolution and it

was the center of the anti-Castro exile activities. The

Herald often drew upon these local Cuban refugees for news

and background information, particularly during and after the

Bay of Pigs invasion, when news from Cuba was restricted. Of

the five papers studied, the Herald generally gave the

greatest coverage of the Cuban events, both in depth and


The next largest newspaper studied was the (Jacksonville)

Florida Times-Union. During the report period its circulation

averaged 159,938 on weekdays and 170,298 on Sundays, reaching

well into southern Georgia and throughout northern Florida.

One of the most distant of the five newspapers from the Cuban

scene and lacking the Latin American communities of Miami and

Tampa, the Florida Times-Union gave comparatively little

coverage to the Cuban events.

The Tampa Tribune had a circulation average of 154,516

on weekdays and 157,270 on Sundays. Tampa, like Miami, has

a large Latin American community, but the city never drew

the Cuban refugees that Miami did, nor did the anti-Castro

activities and involvement reach the level of that in Miami.

Of the five papers studied, the Tampa Tribune's coverage of

the Cuban events was exceeded only slightly by that of the

Miami Herald.

The Orlando Sentinel's circulation average for weekdays

totaled 88,587 and for Sundays 116,660. Unlike the other

papers studied, the Sentinel is not located in a Florida port

city. It serves the conservative, fast-growing central part

of the state. A long-time, staunch critic of the Castro

regime, the Sentinel devoted considerable coverage to Cuban

events covered in this study.

The Pensacola Journal, with a weekday circulation of

52,638 and Sunday circulation of 59,145, was the smallest

newspaper studied. Its circulation area, which covers much of

the Florida Panhandle and reaches up into southeastern

Alabama, is more rural than those of the other papers. The

Journal coverage of the Cuban events was significantly less

than that of the other papers, particularly in editorial


Attention was directed to both news reports and

editorials about the Cuban events which were covered in these

five newspapers during the study period. Most of the news


stories examined were wire stories, primarily from Associated

Press and.United Press International, which were usually

carried in each of the five newspapers. Although substantially

the same basic news was carried by each of the newspapers,

the play of the stories varied considerably, as did the

volume of local and.staff-written stories and editorial


The significance of the analysis of the news reports is

in recording the type of news on the Cuban events of this

period that was available to the readers of those papers

examined. This analysis should, likewise, validly reflect the

type of news available to newspaper readers nationwide, to

the extent that the wire stories were relied upon. Due to

Florida's proximity to Cuba, coverage in Florida papers could

be expected to be the most complete in the nation.

The significance of the analysis of the editorial stances

assumed by the five papers is in defining the varying inter-

pretations and reactions expressed on the Cuban events of

this study period.

The role of the press in U.S.-Cuban relations has his-

torically been an important one. The illusions that Cuba was

facing economic collapse and that the Cuban people were ready

to revolt against Castro were generated primarily through

distorted news coverage of Cuban events in late 1960 and i

early 1961. As Cuba drifted into the Communist camp, public

opinion and governmental policy projected her as a threat to

U.S. prestige and security and American interests were seen


as committed to the destruction of the Castro regime.

The .power of the press in shaping public opinion is well

documented. In recent years this power has come under close

scrutiny regarding the Castro revolution and its tumultuous

aftermath. Equally important, however, is the question raised

by these events, of how well the press is doing its basic job

of covering Cuba.



Cuban-American relations at the beginning of 1961 were

explosive. They had degenerated over the two years of Castro

rule to the point that the overthrow of the Castro regime was

directly linked to American security and prestige.

Castro had seized the U.S. oil refineries in Cuba; nat-

ionalized over 160 American businesses; established relations

with the Soviet Union and Red China and was receiving economic

and military assistance from them. The United States, alarmed

at the Communist influences in the Castro government and its

actions, had retaliated. The U.S. had cut the Cuban sugar

quota, placed an embargo on all exports to Cuba, except food

and medicine, and recalled the U.S. Ambassador.

The year began with charges by Cuban Foreign Minister

Raul Roa before the U.N. Security Council that the U.S. was

"using the reported installation of 17 Soviet rocket launching

pads in Cuba as an excuse to invade."l The invasion was

reportedly scheduled between January 1 and January 18.

The Miami Herald and Tampa Tribune carried staff-written

stories on January 1 of interviews with local Cuban exiles.

Both stories stressed that a deteriorating economy and

IMiami Herald and Tampa Tribune, January 1, 1961.

growing discontent of the Cuban people had sharply cut into

the allegiance of Castro's militia and his Cuban supporters.

Two days later, Fidel Castro ordered the United States

to reduce the American embassy staff to 11 persons within

48 hours. He charged that more than 80 per cent of the staff

were spies and had been directing anti-Castro terrorism under

protection of diplomatic immunity.

The Miami Herald was the only paper to carry the story

on January 3, with a front page lead article by George South-

worth, the Herald's Latin American editor. Castro was

reported as making it clear that he was not breaking relations

with the U.S. The growing concern over the Communist influence

in his regime was noted, however, and his assertion that

"Cuba is not alone and will have support if the fight against

imperialism comes," was emphasized.

That night Washington officially broke diplomatic rela-

tions with Cuba. All the papers carried wire stories of the /

relations break in their January 4 editions, which placed

responsibility for the shattered relations on Castro's Cuba.

The Associated Press reported that "the United States

broke off diplomatic relations tonight with the left-leaning,

boisterous regime of Fidel Castro in Cuba." The report noted

that "although the U.S. adopted what it called a policy of

patience toward his regime, relations worsened as Castro

began seizing American property without compensation and

issuing a stream of anti-American sentiments."2

2Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, (Jacksonville) Florida
Times-Union anua tensacola Journal, January 4, 1961.

The Miami Herald, in addition to a lengthy lead-story

from the Herald wire services, carried several sidebars and

an analysis by Southworth. He reportedly felt that Castro,

"the bearded Messiah," had hoped that the U.S. would break

relations after his reduction order, as he needed to "build

a fire under some of his followers who have been pulling off."

Southworth saw Castro as "using the U.S. as the big, hated

enemy abroad to unite the people at home in the common fight"

and Cuba as "a small satellite now, but it is beginning to

orbit--and that red glow you see isn't coming from the sun.,"3

Editorially, all five papers criticized the Cuban

situation. The Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel aimed their

barbs at Castro directly, while the Tampa Tribune, Pensacola

Journal and (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union were more con-

cerned with the Castro regime's introduction of communism

Into Cuba.

The Miami Herald expressed hope that the relations break

would produce Castro's downfall. He was described as a tyrant

and a "paranoid personality" who thinks or pretends Cuba to

be in imminent danger of invasion one minute and the next

minute "foams at the kisser with delusions of grandeur."

The Orlando Sentinel noted that the limit had been

reached "some time ago, considering that Castro has executed

V nd imprisoned American nationals, has seized billions of

dollars worth of American property and has slandered us

3Miami Herald, January 4, 1961.


almost daily in his particularly psychotic way.5 The paper

urged that the relations blackout be maintained until such

time as Castro left Cuba or agreed to make restitution for

American property seized.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union also attacked

'astro's mental capabilities. He was described as a "crazed

ruler who may resort to any extremes to hurt this country."

The Soviet Union was seen as "the primary foe in the Cuban

conflict" and the editorial called for firm and resolute

handling. "Our warnings should be clear and precise and then

backed up if Russia violates one."

The Pensacola Journal and the Tampa Tribune both criti-

cized Communist aggression in Cuba, in January 5 editorials,

and urged united action by the American states to get rid of

the Castro regime. The Tampa Tribune declared that Castro had

two ends--to drive American interests out of Cuba and under-

mine her influence in Latin America and, with the help of

Russia and Red China, to become the dominant voice in Latin

American affairs.

Editorial attacks upon Castro's mental capabilities and

stability were frequent during this period. He was also often

ridiculed in editorial cartoons, as he was easily caricatured

with his bushy beard and constant fatigue uniform.7.

5Orlando Sentinel, January 5, 1961.

(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, January 5, 1961.
The Tampa Tribune, in particular, frequently used edi-
torial cartoons attacking Castro, often running them on page

Following the break in diplomatic relations, Castro

placed his island nation on military alert, expecting an

imminent invasion by the United States. Associated Press dis-

patches from Havana described frantic preparations to repel


The Pensacola Journal and the Miami Herald editorially

discounted Castro's invasion claims. The Pensacola Journal

claimed the real reason for Castro's mobilization was for

his own defense due to internal uprisings and revolution

which were drawing ever nearer and which he had begun to fear.

"Castro is coming nearer and nearer to the end of the patience

of his own people,"19 the paper summed up.

The Miami Herald, in a much more vitriolic tone, saw the

mobilization as a move to cow the Cuban people and distract

and deter them from "booting out Castro and his Communist

cohorts." The paper charged that "the latest antics of the

maniac in Havana have turned out to be a buildup for fresh

aggression against his own people."10

Four days later, the Miami Herald gave some credence to

V astro's invasion charges, when it ran a story by staff writer

V James Buchanan on the training of anti-Castro Cuban exile

forces at Retalhuleu, Guatemala. The story was prefaced with

an editor's note that it had been held up more than two months

Miami Herald and Tampa Tribune, January 6, 1961; Pensa-
cola Journal and (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, January
7, 1961.
Pensacola Journal, January 11, 1961.

1Miami Herald, January 7, 1961.

and printed only after it had been revealed elsewhere.11

The story noted that some 4,000 Cuban exile guerrillas

and 100 pilots were training in Guatemala, although the report

was denied by the American embassy and Guatemalan government.

The information was also carried in an Associated Press

dispatch from Guatemala, which said the exiles were training

for a possible clash with Cuba.12

The Cuban military alert was called off in late January

and Castro charged that the Yankee invasion was averted only

by the mobilization of Cuba's militiamen. The U.S. State

Department restricted business and tourist travel to Cuba by

Americans, putting it in the same category as Red China,

North Korea, North Viet Nam and Albania--all Communist coun-

tries where travel by Americans is banned without special


The Orlando Sentinel ran a comprehensive, six-part

series on Cuba in its Sunday edition "Florida Magazine"

from the middle of January through the end of February, 1961.

In the first two weekly installments, the paper noted

the coming confrontation with the Cuban exile counterrevo-

lutionaries, whom it said were financed by U.S. and Cuban

industrial interests whose property had been confiscated. It

was speculated that Castro's downfall could well be achieved

by early summer.

11The story was published in the Nation and in the New
York Times the previous day, January 10, 191l.
Tampa Tribune, January 11, 1961.

The series included information on Castro's fight with

the Catholic Church; collapse of the Cuban economy; rela-

tionship with other Latin and South American countries and

other reported conditions within Cuba, including the defection

of thousands of soldiers from Castro's rebel army. Much of

this information was compiled from interviews with Cuban exile

leaders, significant portions of which were later to be proven

grossly inaccurate.13

During February, the Castro regime made several overtures

to improve relations with the U.S. In a memorandum to the

Western Hemisphere foreign ministers, Cuban Foreign Minister

Raul Roa guaranteed that the Castro government would not

export revolution in the Western Hemisphere. The memo also

expressed willingness to accept mediation by other Latin

nations to try to bring about better Cuban-American relations.

The memorandum reportedly brought a chilled reaction from

Western Hemisphere capitals.

On March 23, 1961, the formation of the National Rev-

olutionary Council by the Cuban exile leaders was announced.

The council president, Dr. Jose Miro Cardona, said that the

council was not a government-in-exile but would be trans-

formed into a provisional government on Cuban soil as soon as

it won some territory from Castro. He emphasized that the

council was not receiving U.S. financial support and predicted

that a military offensive would get under way "in a very

130rlando Sentinel, January 15,22, 29, 1961 and February
5, 12, 19, 1961.

short time through an invasion and a general uprising on the


The U.S. issued a "white paper" on Cuba, April 3, 1961,

which called on the Castro regime to end its ties with inter-

national communism and which expressed a determination to

support future democratic governments in Cuba and help the

Cubans achieve freedom, democracy and social justice. It

tacitly rejected acceptance of the Castro government within

Cuba and particularly distinguished between the Castro regime

and the Cuban people.

Actions and reactions between the Cuban and American

governments during the latter part of 1960 and the beginning

of 1961 steadily intensified. The American attitude, as

expressed in the press, was unequivocally committed to the

downfall of the Castro regime. As the Cuban military buildup

progressed, the more urgently the press called for action

against Cuba. The more urgently the press called for action

against Cuba, the more desperately Castro built up his

military forces. The two sides were locked in a spiraling

escalation which was headed for a seemingly inevitable


4Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel, March
23, 1961.



In an Associated Press dispatch from New York, National

Revolutionary Council President Cardona called for all Cubans

to join in a "second war of liberation" to overthrow Castro.

He discounted the possibility of an imminent, large-scale

invasion of Cuba by exile forces from either the U.S. or Latin

America. He did, however, imply that some 5,000 exiles were

being trained outside Cuba, but denied that U.S. experts were

training them.1

Columnist Drew Pearson saw the confrontation much nearer.

He claimed the National Revolutionary Council was ready to

start a combined mass uprising and mass intervention in Cuba

"probably in May." He noted:

Thousands of guerrillas have been training ,
in the Florida Everglades and in Guatemala. Under-
ground units have been organized inside Cuba and t!
are awaiting the signal for action. The revolu- ,
tionaries have been supplied with shiploads of '
small arms, most of them more modern than those
used by the U.S. Army. Cuban pilots have been
training at secret Central American airfields.
No U.S. troops, however, will be involved.

None of this is really a secret from Castro.
That's why he's been crying wolf for so long. But
now the invasion is really imminent.2

Tampa Tribune, April 9, 1961.

Ibid., April 10, 1961; (Jacksonville) Florida Times-
Union, April 8, 1961 and Orlando Sentinel, April 11, 19b*.


Castro again mobilized his rebel army as the rumors of

an impending invasion intensified.

President John F. Kennedy was quoted in an April 13,

1961, UPI dispatch that there would not be any U.S. armed

intervention in Cuba. He reportedly barred any Cuban invasion

attempts or other actions from U.S. territory which might be

interpreted as American intervention.

Most of the papers studied were relatively quiet

editorially during April, choosing not to examine the

impending action against Cuba in the editorial columns. The

Tampa Tribune, however, declared its firm commitment to the

ouster of Castro and urged U.S. aid to the counterrevolu-

tionaries' push against a Soviet-backed, Communistic Cuban


It is time for the United States to stop
being hypersensitive to the criticism of others.
It is our duty to support what is honorable and
'2 --right. We never will be wrong when we are on the
side of freedom.3

The lead stories in all the papers on April 16 were

AP and UPI dispatches on the reported revolt of three Cuban

pilots who bombed and strafed three Cuban airfields before

flying their B26 bombers .to the U.S. and Jamaica. Castro

angrily blasted U.S. aggression and appealed to the United

Nations to stop the U.S. invasion of Cuba. He charged that

the pilots were not revolting Cubans but exiles and the

planes had attacked Cuba from foreign soil. The U.S. State

3Tampa Tribune, April 15, 1961.

Department reportedly disavowed knowledge of the bombing


The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union and the Orlando

Sentinel carried AP wire stories by Robert Berrellez that the

bombing raids underlined the seething internal opposition to

Fidel Castro's 28-month-old regime. Berrellez noted growing

attacks upon the Castro government in early April and con-

cluded that the "acts of terrorism, together with outbreaks

of rebel violence from one end of the island to the other,

seem to support the contention of foreign observers and anti-

Castro Cubans here that the present opposition to Castro

outweighs by far that which confronted deposed dictator

Fulgencio Eatista on the eve of his flight January 1, 1959."5

In the Miami Herald, staff writer James Buchanan des-

cribed increasing tension among the Cuban exiles in Miami, in

expectation of a strike against Castro. He reported a deadline

for the invasion-backed uprising, ranging from a minimum of

14 to a maximum of 35 days.

The Tampa Tribune editorially saw the bombing attack as

verification of Castro's lack of support by the Cuban people

and compared his expected fall as a dictator with that of


The bombing raid, conducted by six bombers of the exiles'
revolutionary brigade, originated in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua,
which was the jumping-off point for the Cuban invasion. The
bombing raid was aimed at destroying Castro's limited air force
in preparation for the impending invasion.

5(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union and Orlando Sentinel,
April 16, 1961.

Fidel Castro is finding it increasingly
difficult to maintain the myth that the people
of Cuba stand solidly behind him....the bombing
of three major Cuban targets yesterday by what
obviously were Cuban Air Force planes is con-
vincing evidence that the Castro regime is
honeycombed with potential defectors ready to
help overthrow the government.

While the air force defectors may be few
in number, when a dictator's military arm
starts withering--as Castro's predecessor, Ful-
gencio Batista learned--the foundation of his
whole regime begins to totter.

The truth is that except for a brief
period after he came to power, the demonstra-
tions of popular support Castro has enjoyed in
the past have been forced, not won. Government
based on such false support cannot endure.0

The Miami Herald and the Tamoa Tribune carried wire

stories on April 17, 1961, however, that reported doubts

about the bomber pilots' stories and speculated that they had

indeed been flown from exile bases in another Latin American

country.'The Tampa Tribune story quoted Castro as labeling

his regime, for the first time, as Socialistic--"The United

States sponsored the attack because it can't forgive us for

achieving a Socialist revolution under their very noses."'

Also on April 17, 1961, the Tamoa Tribune carried a

staff-written story by Paul Wilder of an interview with Cuban

exile leaders which epitomized the controversial coverage

given Cuba and the impending invasion, which would be secretly

launched that same morning. He predicted the Cuban exile

action would be a "24 hour war" with a general uprising

Tampa Tribune, April 16, 1961.

7Ibid., April 17, 1961.

sparked "by word the war was on." He expected an internal

upheaval to be the agent of Castro's downfall and he

discounted reports of a massive invasion.

He prophetically noted that there were too few exile

counterrevolutionaries for a beach invasion as "Castro's

militia and army, with modern weapons supplied by Russia,

Czechoslovakia and Red China, would make short work of any

such mass assault..."




The invasion that Castro had decried for so long in the

press and in the United Nations, and which the U.S. Government

and press had indignantly and loudly denied, was launched in

the early morning hours of Monday, April 17, 1961.

The invasion was the lead story for all the papers on

April 18 with most of them running it under banner headlines

to the effect that the rebels claimed early successes in the


The Tampa Tribune, (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union

and Orlando Sentinel carried an AP story on the invasion

which noted that direct communications with Cuba had been cut

off and that few of the rebel claims and reports on the

invasion could be confirmed. The Miami Herald, in a staff-

written story by Dom Bonafede, and the Pensacola Journal, in

a UPI story, also noted that the reports on the invasion

action were from rebel sources and unconfirmed.

The press coverage of the invasion during the news black-

out from Cuba was voluminous and replete with erroneous

stories, some of them labeled as unconfirmed, some not. Unable

to get on the scene or establish communications with Havana,

reporters covered the story by monitoring radio broadcasts

from the Caribbean and from interviews with the Cuban exiles

in Miami.

A Madison Avenue public relations firm, Lem Jones

Associates, Inc., vras recognized as the National Revolu-

tionary Council's information spokesman. In all, six press

releases were issued by Jones. Three of them, issued Monday

following the invasion, reported troop landings and internal

resistance, with a major battle seen shaping up Monday

evening. The fourth release appeared Tuesday afternoon and

was less optimistic, noting that heavy Soviet tanks and MIG

Jet fighters had destroyed sizable amounts of the rebels'

medical supplies and equipment. The fifth release, issued

Wednesday, emphasized a "hard fighting underdog" image and

the sixth, and last, on Wednesday night said the action was

not an invasion but a successful landing of guerrillas and

supplies to carry on operations against Castro from the

Escambray Mountains.1

The invasion, launched from Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua,

by 1500 Cuban exiles of Brigade 2506, was, indeed, a major

invasion. They had been trained, financed and well armed by

the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.2 With air superiority;

a planned diversionary landing in Cuba's eastern Oriente

Province and a simulated attack near Pinar del Rio in western

Cuba, the exiles expected to invade and occupy forty miles of

1Haynes Johnson, et al. The Bay of Pigs (New York: W. W.
Norton & Co., 1964) pp. 128, 14b. The effects of the releases
were to generate optimism over a successful invasion at first,
then suspicion and finally disappointment and bitter frust-
ration at the end, when failure of the invasion was realized.

Ibid., pp. 69, 241. The CIA, principal architects of the
invasion, estimated the cost of the invasion at $45 million
in testimony before the.Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee
on Latin American Affairs.

Cuba's southern coastline, running from Playa Larga at the

head of the Bay of Pigs to twenty miles east of Playa Giron,

near the mouth of the bay.

The invaders expected relatively little determined resis-

tance from Castro's militia and they anticipated that in the

first two days of the invasion five thousand Cubans would

rise up and join them. They carried weapons for four thousand

men and had plans to airdrop thousands more for those Cubans

joining the rebellion.3

Stories of the first day's fighting stirred the hopes of

the exiles' supporters with the publication of rumors and

unconfirmed reports that much of Castro's 400,000-man militia

had defected; that 5,000 rebels had landed on three fronts

and were pushing Castro's forces back; that the Isle of Pines

had been seized and 10,000 political prisoners freed to fight

Castro; that Pinar del Rio had been captured and that Cubans

were expected to rise up enmasse in coordinated waves of

sabotage and rebellion.

The Miami Herald carried, under a head of "Which side do

you believe?", a comparison of rebel claims and Castro's claims.

The story noted the rebel claims of a successful invasion with

fresh troops and supplies standing by offshore versus Castro's

claims that government troops had repulsed "a multi-pronged

3Ibid., pp. 82-87. The invading Brigade 2506 was heavily
armed with automatic weapons, cannons, mortars and tanks.

Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune, Pensacola Journal, Orlando
Sentinel and (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, April 1T, 1961.

attack by counterrevolutionaries." The rebels reportedly

claimed that.much of Castro's militia had defected and that

Jose Miro Cardona was ready to enter Cuba and set up the

revolutionary government. Castro, however, reportedly claimed

that the Cuban masses had given "an overwhelming response in

favor of the Fatherland," and that everything was under


As it turned out, neither side was accurate in its

claims, and the rumors were grossly wrong. The invasion force

was severely hampered with poor plans, poor intelligence

reports and lack of support. The dangers and difficulties of

a night amphibious assault were compounded by coral reefs in

an uncharted landing zone; the use of small fiberglass boats

with faulty outboard motors for personnel landing craft and

a significant concentration of Cuban militiamen with commun-

ications facilities in the supposedly deserted Bay of Pigs

assault area. The problems delayed completion of the landing

so that by daylight the majority of the brigade's supplies

and many of the troops had not reached the shore.6

A second air strike against Castro's air force that was

scheduled for dawn was cancelled due to rising criticism and

world opinion against U.S. participation in the attack upon

Cuba. Although the first air strike on April 15 did consid-

erable damage, Castro was left with four fighters--two "Sea

5Miami Herald, April 18, 1961.

6Johnson, pp. 103-109.

Furies" and two jet T33's--and two B26 bombers.7

At daylight Castro's planes attacked the invaders. They

sank the troopship Houston in the Bay of Pigs; shot down a

rebel B26 which was providing air cover for the invaders and

sank the Rio Escondido off Playa Giron with the brigade's

communications equipment and ammunition and supplies for the

first ten days of.fighting aboard. The remaining troops, some

of whom were scheduled to be landed near Cienfuegos, farther

east, were hastily put ashore under fire at Playa Giron also

and the rest of the ships in the brigade's task force beat a

hasty retreat for the safety of the open sea. The invaders

were left with their supply lines cut, their backs to the sea

and no communications.

The diversionary landing in Oriente Province was aborted

and the word to underground groups within Cuba to start

sabotage and guerrilla campaigns to draw attention from the

invasion was not sent for some 12 hours after the landing.

During that time Castro's militia rounded up all Cubans sus-

pected of supporting the exiles, including more than 200,000

in Havana alone.9

Castro turned his full attention to the Bay of Pigs

invasion site after being briefly distracted by the simulated

attack at Pinar del Rio. He mounted continuing attacks to

7Ibid., pp. 94-97.

Ibid., pp. 113-114.

9Ibid., p. 121. This figure seems high in comparison to
later estimates by other reporters who estimated perhaps
50,000 jailed throughout Cuba, including 15,000 in Havana.

keep the invaders surrounded and contained; keep supporters

from joining them and prevent them from landing their pro-

visional government and seeking recognition and aid from


The invaders drove little farther inland than their

original positions taken up Monday morning and held throughout

Monday night with hard fighting. On Tuesday morning the rebels

at Playa Larga, and the paratroopers dropped to cut the roads

leading through the surrounding swamps into the Playa Giron

area, began retreating to Playa Giron. After brisk battles

Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, which expended their

remaining ammunition and supplies, the rebels disbanded and

took to the swamps in the face of the overwhelming numbers of

Castro's advancing militia. The dense, surrounding swamps,

which aided the rebels in defending their positions and

restricted the Cuban militia's advance, now pinned the rebels

in and made the job of capturing them relatively simple.

Three newspapers commented editorially on the invasion

in their Tuesday, April 18, editions. All three denied U.S.

participation in the action. The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-

Union described the invasion as "not instigated by any action

on our part but fomented instead by the people of Cuba who

are resisting the Socialist regime of their Communist-inspired

dictator." The Miami Herald called the invasion a struggle

SIbid., p. 110. U.S. forces escorting the brigade's task
force sent rubber rafts ashore at Pinar del Rio containing
radio equipment simulating the sounds of combat. The ruse
distracted Castro briefly.

between Cubans "working out their own destiny" and although

U. S. sympathies lie with the rebels, the U.S. would not inter-

vene "under any circumstances." The Tampa Tribune noted that

Sthe U.S. was abiding by the Organization of American States'

principles of non-intervention and should insure that Russia

does not interfere either. The Tribune also prophesied that

it was too early to tell whether the invaders had "pried the

lid off the Cuban cauldron of discontent....The result

depends largely upon whether the discontent is seething or

merely simmering--whether the exiles seeking to reestablish

freedom in their homeland gain the necessary internal support

or not. If they do not, their effort will have been premature,

and will mean but a tighter Castro clamp on the lid."

All five newspapers carried front page wire stories on

April 19 of President Kennedy's warning to the Soviets to

stay out of the Cuban fighting. He warned that America would

take action if they interfered militarily and he pledged

that the U.S. would not intervene with force in the battle.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, Pensacola Journal

and Orlando Sentinel also carried wire stories containing

the fourth Lem Jones' release, that the rebels had lost

significant equipment to Castro's tanks and MIG fighters and

were fighting against high odds.11

The Tampa Tribune and (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union

carried AP wire stories as sidebars in their April 19 editions

11(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, Pensacola Journal
and Orlando Sentinel, April 19, 1961.~

noting a growing fear among the anti-Castro Cubans that the

rebel invasion may have been premature, exposing an under-

manned movement to Castro's militia, and touching off a

"reign of terror" in Havana.

James Buchanan of the Miami Herald saw the current

action as a "mass infiltration rather than a mass invasion"

and he described the invaders' primary objectives as

"achieved." Buchanan said the invaders were on Cuban soil

again to keep a long-standing promise; that there was every

reason to believe the reports that they had broadened their

Bay of Pigs beachhead.to take in additional guerrilla bands

and that there will be landings of still larger armies which

were "reportedly ready to move at a second's notice."12

A Miami Herald editorial, also in the April 19 edition,

emphasized the lack of "impartial eyewitness accounts" of the

invasion and the fact that most of the news so far reported

was rumor. The editorial pointed out that what was known

about events in Cuba was "sparse and in most instances with-

out meaning." It noted some doubts that the invasion may

have been premature and expressed the growing frustration of

the situation in that "here, and in our time, this hemisphere

finds the Cold War joined on the very doorstep of the North

American continent. While we cannot participate, let us not

be accused of being neutral."

All five papers carried the National Revolutionary Coun-

cil's last press release, that the landing was a success and

12iami Herald, April 19, 1961.

the exile forces had reached the Escambray Mountains with

supplies and support for the guerrillas operating there.13

They also carried conflicting reports from various other

sources, however, that the invasion had been defeated. Fran-

cis McCarthy, UPI Latin American editor, reported flatly that

"the invasion of Cuba is beaten. It is Fidel Castro's

greatest hour of triumph since he came to power.4 Dom

Bonafede reported that the Castro government had announced

the "invasion force would be wiped out within hours." He

pointed out the lack of coordination between the invading

forces and the underground in Cuba and noted that "exile

leaders pinned their hopes on a massive uprising among the

Cuban masses. But it hasn't come. Some say the Cuban people

failed to get the word.",15

The Tampa Tribune editorially acknowledged the exiles'

defeat in its April 20 edition and was already looking ahead

to the future anti-Castro conflict. The editorial dismissed

any thoughts of U.S. intervention and anticipated the guilt

the U.S. would shoulder--"unfortunately our protestations of

innocence have convinced neither our friends or our enemies.

We are tarred with the interventionist's brush. Despite our

best efforts to remove it, there is every indication the tar

will stick."

13Miami Herald, -Orlando Sentinel, (Jacksonville) Florida
Times-Union, Pensacola Journal and Tampa Tribune, April 20,

4Tampa Tribune, April 21, 1961.

15Miami Herald, April 20, 1961.

American reaction to the outcome of the ill-famed

invasion was reflected in a speech given by President Kennedy

before the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 21

and carried in all the papers. Edwin Lahey, chief of the

Miami Herald's Washington bureau, wrote that the President

"like millions of other Americans had been cut deeply by the

sense of humiliation over the Cuban invasion fiasco.16 Pres-

ident Kennedy told the editors that American patience and

restraint were "not inexhaustible" and if it ever appeared

that the other American states were shirking their commitments

against communism because of the doctrine of non-intervention,

then the U.S. would not hesitate to act on its own.

Most of the papers editorially lamented, quite bitterly,

the lack of U.S. action to insure success of the invasion.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union questioned whether

American prestige, which would be damaged by intervention in

Cuba, was so "all-fired important." The editorial argued that
"prestige is a poor substitute for national security, and

this is what we are risking if we allow the Communists to

retain Cuba. The island would then become a veritable arsenal

aimed directly at this country."17

The Orlando Sentinel charged that the U.S. "backed out

of Cuba too soon and with too little fight. Now we face a

bearded little squirt with a well-equipped army and plenty

16Ibid., April 21, 1961.

17(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, April 21, 1961.


of firepower."l8 The Sentinel saw the U.S. in an "undeclared

war" which could develop into another world war and suggested

that President Kennedy should back up his hard line towards

Cuba expressed in his speech at the ASNE meeting by "putting

an embargo on everything Cuban and supplying the freedom

fighters with as much U.S. military equipment as they need."19

James A. Clendinen, editorial page editor for the Tampa

Tribune, declared, in a signed editorial, that the Cuban

issue was an issue of survival and that the U.S. must discard

some of the traditional niceties of diplomacy in dealing with

it. He said "the dismal truth is that America's attempt to

maintain a technically correct position of non-intervention

in Cuba has brought us both failure and scorn. Our aid to the

rebels has been too little to assure victory; yet it has been

enough to permit the Communists to point a hypocritical

finger at us as sponsors of an assault upon the independent

government of Cuba."20

Clendinen called for action against Castro with the

prompt establishment of a naval and air blockade of Cuba to

close off receipt of any more weapons, supplies or manpower

from the Communist countries.

The Pensacola Journal and the Miami Herald in more

moderate editorial tones said that communism in Cuba must go.

8Orlando Sentinel, April 21, 1961.

19Ibid., April 22, 1961.
Tampa Tribune, April 21, 1961.

The Pensacola Journal simply noted that the U.S. couldn't

tolerate Communist missile bases in this hemisphere nor the

"subversion of Cuba by Communists" and still hold to the

Monroe Doctrine.21

The Miami Herald, in a most positive editorial outlook,

saw the invasion as only "round one" in the fight against

Castro. Emphasizing the reported infiltration successes of

the invasion, it declared "the first wave of the liberation

army has accomplished its mission. There will be another and

another and another."22

The Miami Herald called for Cuba to be "the first nation

to be liberated from the clutch of Communist imperialism,"

noting that the "Reds can't defend Cuba and they know it."

The editorial said that Americans should be proud of trying

to help Cuban patriots recapture their homeland and should
"roll up their sleeves to liberate Cuba. 23

Early analysis of the invasion failure centered on the

incorrect evaluations of Castro's loss of political support

and military support within Cuba. Much of the blame for the

errors was placed on misleading information from Cuban

refugees and inept U.S. Latin American advisors. Considerable

discussion was also carried, after the fact, on the reaction

of other Latin American countries over the U.S. role in the

21Pensacola Journal, April 20, 1961.
2Miami Herald, April 21, 1961.

23bid., April 25, 1961.

invasion. This coverage was typified in a series by George

Southworth, who reported that U.S. prestige had "hit rock

bottom in Central America, Colqmbia and Venezuela for

bungling the Cuban invasion." Southworth declared "the U.S.

better wake up. She's losing Latin America. The Communists

don't fight by the rules and the United States doesn't fight

at all.'24

By the end of April, the Cuban story had evolved into

one of speculation over the next U.S. move against Castro.

Among the plans reported under consideration were a naval

blockade; an economic embargo; direct U.S. military inter-

vention; a new anti-Castro operation by Cuban exiles; col-

lective action by the Organization of American States and an

intensified propaganda campaign aimed at Castro's overthrow

from within.

The papers rallied around President Kennedy shortly

after the invasion failure, assigning most of the blame to

\ the Central Intelligence Agency.25 The U.S. commitment to

the overthrow of Castro was reemphasized by columnists, in

news stories and in editorials. By the end of April, however,

some of the newspapers began expressing second thoughts, par-

ticularly after President Kennedy urged them, in a speech to

the American Newspaper Publishers Association, to "reexamine

24Ibid., April 26 and 27, 1961.

25Francis, p. 265. President Kennedy is supposed to have
remarked upon receiving a Gallup poll showing that he gained
popularity following the Cuban invasion that "It's like
Eisenhower. The worse I do, the more popular I get."

their obligations in the light of global danger and in

presenting the news, to heed the duty of self-restraint....

Newspapers must now ask the question, is it in the national

interests instead of is it news.26

The Tampa Tribune, which had earlier called for action

against Castro, examined Krushchev's threat of retaliation

against U.S. aggression in Cuba in an editorial entitled "The

Price of a Free Cuba." The editorial noted that the retal-

iation question was a serious one which should be pondered by

every U.S. citizen and then it asked "If all action short of

intervention fails, how much is a free Cuba worth to us?"27

Two days later the Tribune examined another aspect of

the problem in a political cartoon entitled "William Tell's

Dilemma." Uncle Sam was depicted about to shoot the rotten

apple "of communism" off the head of a man, labeled "Latin

American friendship," with a shotgun, labeled "any military

action against the Castro regime." Uncle Sam pondered--"I

might just hit him too.'28

President Kennedy's call for "self-restraint by the

newspapers drew a sharp rebuff from the Tampa Tribune. The

editorial maintained that the paper had reported "only what

was visible to other eyes or was babbled by Cuban refugee

spokesmen intent on building up their own cause." It reasoned

(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, April 28, 1961.
27Tampa Tribune, April 26, 1961.
28bid April28, 196
Ibid., April.28, 1961.


that if newspaper reporters could get the information, surely

Castro's agents could get it also and that "the evidence

indicates Castro had advance information on the time and

place of the landing which could have come only from someone

in the inner council of planners." The Tribune charged that

the culprit was not "irresponsible journalism, but inadequate

security controls on a poorly handled military project."29

As April drew to a close, criticism of the press

coverage of the Cuban invasion grew and with it grew the

papers' expressed sense of humiliation and bitterness at

being compromised by the government.

29Ibid., April 29, 1961.



During speeches at a May Day celebration in Havana, Fidel

Castro declared Cuba to be a Socialist state, without the

need for elections. Wire stories of the speech were carried

by all the papers and it drew editorial fire from each of

them. All the editorials decried the use of Cuba as a spring-

board for communism in the Caribbean.1

The Tampa Tribune editorial was the most harsh, calling

Castro's Cuba a "Communist cancer at the heart of the hemis-

phere" which required removal by "an inter-American team of

surgeons" lest the heth of all the hemisphere become

imperiled. It also clearly illustrated the difference in per-

spective over Cuba in commenting that the "leaders of Latin

American states must face up to the threat posed by Castro's

Cuba, no matter how popular he is to masses in their home

states because of his social and economic reforms in Cuba."

If the inter-American effort was not forthcoming, the edi-

torial declared that the U.S. must "operate" on its own.2

The conservative (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union and

the Orlando Sentinel, a long-time critic of Castro as a

1Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel, May 2, 1961; Tampa
Tribune, (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union and Pensacola
Journal, May 3, 1961.

Tampa Tribune, May 3, 1961.

Communist, also included swipes at the U.S. "leftists and

socialists" as contributing to the Cuban problem.3 The Sentinel

pointed out, matter-of-factly, that "the most important

lesson which the recent abortive invasion attempt should have

taught is that Fidel Castro has the support of the masses of

Cuba. He's given them land; is feeding them. They're loyal.

Nobody else gave them a piece of land."4

The editorial went on, however, to point out that despite

the gross estimates of 500,000 men needed to conquer Castro,

his army of 400,000 was mostly "ill-trained militia" and a

"division of Marines with good air support and good sea

support should be able to handle the situation."5

During early May the Cuban story began to cool off some-

what, although on May 5 several of the papers carried Drew

Pearson's "Merry Go Round" column which analyzed the invasion

in detail and placed the blame for the "tragedy" on the

"fumbling and bumbling of the Central Intelligence Agency."

Pearson charged that the CIA fathered the invasion operation

but neglected to coordinate the landing with a planned

internal uprising. He detailed mistakes and poor preparation

for the invasion, including failure to cut Castro's communi-

cations systems and use of "motley" ships and crews as an

invasion fleet.6

3(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, May 3, 1961 and
Orlando Sentinel, May 2 and 4, 19b1.

4Orlando Sentinel, May 4, 1961.


Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and (Jacksonville)
Florida Times-Union, May 5, 19b1.

On May 18, 1961, Castro offered to trade the 1,124 cap-

tured invaders for 500 tractors and he permitted 10 prisoners

to return to the U.S. to try and negotiate the swap. A "Trac-

tors for Freedom Committee," headed by Eleanor Roosevelt,

Walter Reuther and Milton S. Eisenhower, was organized to

help obtain the tractors.

The tractor-prisoner swap proposal generated as much, or

perhaps more, controversy and editorial reaction as did the

invasion itself. Even the wire service news columns reporting

the offer used harsh comparisons in describing it as "remi-

niscent of Adolph Eichmann's attempt to swap Jewish hostages

for trucks during WWII."7

Some-of the papers were strongly against the swap. Others,

while angrily denouncing Castro as inhumane or worse, felt a

responsibility to the rebels and saw the ransom effort as

compassionate. All agreed that the U. S. Government should

not be involved in the transaction, however.

The Tampa Tribune, one of the most vehement opponents to

the swap, described it as "an eclair argument, richly coated

with sentiment but hollow of logic." The paper declared that

"if it be called heartless to reject Castro's bodies-for-

bulldozers deal, let us remember that there are times when

free men must be willing to sacrifice both liberty and life

in defense of principle."8

7Pensacola Journal, May.18, 1961. The controversial
Eichmann trial was underway in Israel at the time.

Tampa Tribune, May 21, 1961.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union also took a firm

stand in opposition to the swap, charging that it would

"hasten the capitulation of the honor of the Americas" and

that the U.S. has "sunk to a low ebb in integrity" when it

permits such distasteful bargains. The paper dramatically

urged that we "remember Jackson's statement prior to the War

of 1812 that 'We are going to fight for the reestablishment

of our national character' and until we do so again, we can-

not remove the blot on our escutcheon."9

The Miami Herald saw the swap as "compassionate and

worthy," but feared a propaganda trap and emphasized that it

should "be the Cubans' business and the U.S. Government

should not be involved.10

The Orlando Sentinel,.in perhaps the most realistic

appraisal of all, wryly expected that the Americans, "soft-

hearted as well as soft-headed," would no doubt meet the

conditions of the swap. The Sentinel maintained that the U.S.

felt a responsibility to do something to help the exiles, as

"we have a sense of guilt about the invasion fiasco since if

it hadn't been for our ineptness, the freedom fighters

wouldn't today be prisoners." The editorial urged settlement

of the swap for 50 or 100 tractors and then an end of all

business with Cuba.11

9(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, May 24, 1961.

lOMiami Herald, May 23, 1961.

11Orlando Sentinel, May 23, 1961. The U.S. was reportedly
still buying 6bO million annually in goods--mostly tobacco--
from Cuba at the time.

President Kennedy lent his support to the tractor swap

and urged citizens to contribute, but he maintained, rather

speciously, that it was a private action and the government

would not be a party to it. Even with the President's support,

or perhaps because of it, the tractor swap drew widespread

opposition from the public and particularly from the press.

The newspapers which had closed ranks behind President

Kennedy immediately after the invasion failure began finding

increasing fault with his handling of the Cuban situation.

Through the latter part of May and the first part of

June the tractor-prisoner swap was a frequent news and edi-

torial topic. The administration and supporters of the swap

maintained that the humanitarian act struck a propaganda blow

against Castro, while the critics charged that the swap was

blackmail and submission to it was against all American


The negotiations between the "Tractors for Freedom

Committee" and Castro broke down in the latter part of June.

The committee offered to meet his conditions with 500 agri-

cultural tractors--D-6's weighing up to 18,000 pounds. Castro,

however, maintained that he had meant D-8 tractors which were

much larger, weighing 48,000 pounds, and were suitable for

construction and roadbuilding. He also insisted that the pay-

ment was an "indemnity" for U.S. support of the invading

exiles, and not a ransom.

Castro did agree, in talks with the committee in Cuba,

to accept the smaller tractors, but he demanded 1,000 of them


as an equivalent value. This "change in price" brought a howl

from critics of the swap and supporters alike. All the papers

editorially called for breaking off negotiations.

The Tampa Tribune, describing the swap as a scheme which

had been "proceeding from impulsive folly to determined

absurdity," declared that the U.S. had "suffered humiliation

enough.from Washington's Cuban policies" and urged Congress

to prohibit the swap if President Kennedy did not repudiate

the Cuban offer.12

The committee again offered Castro 500 smaller D-6

tractors and when he refused, it was disbanded on June 24,

1961. The newspapers editorially uttered a collective sigh of

relief. Even the Miami Herald, which had supported the swap

as a private action, saw the "end to the folly as fortunate."

The editorial said that Castro never really took the swap

seriously but used it as a propaganda move to humiliate the

U.S. and to "have a quiet laugh at the Yankee Colossus." The

Herald editorial denied any lack of compassion for the pris-

oners, however, and maintained that they would not "languish

long in captivity."13

The changing attitudes regarding U.S. actions over Cuba

are perhaps reflected in a Gallup poll published in mid-June,

1961. The response to the question "Do you approve of the way

President Kennedy is handling his job as President?" would

12Tampa Tribune, June 16, 1961.

13Miami Herald, June 24, 1961.

seem to substantiate the growing disapproval over U.S.

actions. The question asked just after the invasion in April,

elicited a response of 83 per. cent approval; 5 per cent

disapproval and 12 per cent no opinion. In May the question

drew responses of 76 per cent approval; 9 per cent disapproval

and 15 per cent no opinion. In early June, during the height

of the tractor-prisoner swap controversy, the question got

responses of 74 per cent approval; 1l.per cent disapproval

and 15 per cent no opinion.14

The Miami Herald's George Southworth was permitted to

accompany the "Tractors for Freedom Committee" on a negoti-

ation trip into Cuba and he filed a penetrating series of

stories on conditions there. He reported that Castro had

"more power and greater control over his people than ever

before." He emphasized that Castro's revolution had many

strong points, such as low cost housing developments, many

new state-owned collective farms and many new cooperatives.

He noted that although many items were in short supply, there

was always food for sale and those claiming the Castro gov-

ernment would fall from hunger were only wishfully thinking.

Southworth emphasized, however, that the price of these

economic gains by the Cuban masses were high--"the loss of

almost every personal liberty."15

Following various predictions that Latin America would

14Orlando Sentinel, June 16, 1961.

15Miami Herald, June 18, 1961.


be under Communist domination within from three to five years

if something was not done to get rid of Castro, Cuba drifted

out of the news through most of the remaining summer and fall.

Castro popped back into the news in banner headlines on

December 3 when he declared, on the fifth anniversary of his

July 26th Movement's landing in Cuba, that "I am a Marxist-

Leninist and I'll remain one till I die."16

The Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and (Jacksonville)

Florida Times-Union also carried an AP comparison of the

recorded, changing statements by Castro regarding his assoc-

iation with communism. Castro's positions reportedly ranged

from "Ours is not a Communist revolution," declared at the

time Eatista fled Cuba on January 1, 1959, and "We are not

Communists," spoken in his address to the American Society

of Newspaper Editors on April 17, 1959, to "We are in accord

with communism," declared in a March 28, 1961, speech, and

his announcement that Cuba was a Socialist state on May 1,


Editorial comment on Castro's announcement agreed that

his confession should convince any doubters of his true

colors and serve to unite opposition throughout the Americas.

The Tampa Tribune called the statement "all the evidence

necessary for the Organization of American States to declare

Castro's Cuba a Soviet satellite and take collective

16Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, (Jacksonville) Florida
Times-Union, Miami Herald and Pensacola Journal, December 3,
17Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and (Jacksonville)
Florida Times-Union, December 3, 19b1.

diplomatic and economic measures against it.'18

The United States set out to accomplish that very goal

at the Punta Del Este Conference of the Organization of

American States.

18Tampa Tribune, December 2, 1961.



The U.S. presented a "white paper" to the Inter-American

Peace Committee of the Organization of American States

charging that Cuba had become a "bridgehead of Sino-Soviet

imperialism, posing a serious threat to the security of the

American Republics." The "white paper" was in preparation for

a U.S. request for joint economic and diplomatic sanctions

against Cuba by the OAS nations at the Punta Del Este Con-

ference which began January 22, 1962. It was described by the

wire services as a "detailed summary of Cuba's military,

economic, political, cultural and propaganda ties with the

Communist world."'

The negotiations at the Punta Del Este Conference made

front page news each day. The first few days resulted in a

deadlock among the member nations regarding passage of the

U.S. proposed sanctions against Cuba. These included recog-

nition that Cuba's alignment with the Sino-Soviet bloc was

incompatible with the inter-American system; exclusion of

the Castro regime from the Organization of American States;

a halt to trade between Cuba and the American states, par-

ticularly in arms traffic, and the activation of individual

and collective defense acts against Cuba's political and

1Miami Herald, January 4, 1962.


indirect aggression.

The United States and the smaller Latin American coun-

tries close to Cuba pushed for the sanctions while the larger

Latin American countries, located some distance from Cuba and

with large numbers of Castro admirers among their own masses,

were reluctant to pass the anti-Cuban measures.2

The U.S. warned the OAS members that Cuban communism

must be quarantined to insure the success of President

Kennedy's $20 billion Alliance for Progress aid program for

Latin America. The nation's newspapers were more plainspoken,

however, in urging that those Latin American countries holding

back on OAS action against Cuba be excluded from the Alliance

for Progress funds.

Reluctance of the OAS to adopt the sanctions against

Cuba drew some editorial criticism from the American press,

most of it directed at the ability of the organization only

to talk and not act.

The inability of the OAS to arrive at a resolution

against Castro acceptable to all the participants caused the

meeting to be extended two days and focused considerable

attention on U.S.-Latin American relations. Dom Bonafede, of

the Miami Herald, saw the Kennedy administration's

prestige at stake in the stalemate, with any defeat at the

conference for "forceful anti-Castro action becoming almost

Among those reluctant nations were most of the largest
and most influential in Latin America, including Argentina,
Chili, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia and Ecuador.

as humiliating to the U.S. as the Bay of Pigs disaster."3

The OAS nations voted overwhelmingly to censure Castro

for allowing Communist intrusion into the Western Hemisphere

through Cuba but the required vote on the proposed sanctions

against Cuba could not be obtained. The impasse was finally

broken on January 31, when 14 of the 21 nations voted only to

expel Cuba from the OAS, giving the bare two-thirds.vote

necessary. The larger Latin American nations continued to

abstain from voting. The expulsion saved some face for the

U.S. and.anti-Castro countries but had minor material effects

other than embarrassing Cuba diplomatically.

William L. Ryan,.AP news analyst, reported that U.S.

prestige suffered "a painful bruise" due to the major OAS

nations' reluctance to act against Cuba.4

Others did not see quite so bleak a picture in the

results of the conference. The Miami Herald reported that

although the U.S. didn't achieve everything it wanted at

the conference, certainly "all was not lost." The editorial

noted Cuba's ouster and Castro's censure but also acknowledged

the "hollow aspects of the victory" in the opposition of the

six major nations "four of which are the core nations of

Latin America and among the largest recipients of U.S.

foreign aid."5

Miami Herald, January 27, 1962.

Tampa Tribune, February 1, 1962

5Miami Herald, February 1, 1962.

It had been rumored that the U.S. intended to cut off

all trade with Cuba as soon as the Punta Del Este conference

was completed. On February 3, President Kennedy did just that,

placing an embargo on all trade with Cuba except medical


The embargo was endorsed by all the papers but the

Pensacola Journal, which did not comment editorially on the

action. Especially noteworthy was the unqualified support

given by the Tampa Tribune, since the majority of the Cuban

imports--$27 million of the total annual $35 million--was

tobacco for the cigar industries of Tampa.

The Orlando Sentinel described the action as a "severe

blow to the ability of Prime Minister Fidel Castro to export

Communist subversion to other Latin American countries." The

administration's aim, according to the Sentinel, was to

"fasten a kind of economic-military-political stranglehold

around the island country" and to urge our allies to do the


The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union expressed some

reservations, however, in pointing out that it remained to be

seen whether the U.S. could "provide the leadership necessary

to make the economic pressure effective." Such sanctions in

the past had'proven difficult to make work, the paper added,

because "those nations with the greatest pocketbook interests

refused to cooperate."7

60rlando Sentinel, February 4, 1962.

7(Jacksonville) Florida TiTs~mq-Union, February 6, 1962.



Shortly after Cuba's expulsion from the OAS, and perhaps

because of it to some degree, Castro tried the captured Cuban

exile invaders before a five-man military tribunal in Principe


Propaganda efforts to have the prisoners denounce the

U.S. as instigators of the invasion failed, for the most part,

as only 10 prisoners reportedly admitted during the trial

that the invasion was masterminded by the CIA.

The Tampa Tribune saw the invaders' trial as a reminder

to the Cubans that they could expect no outside help in over-

throwing the Castro regime. "All of this is intended to

impress upon the Cubans the picture of disaster that awaits

them if they revolt against their Communist masters or aid

others from the outside who might attempt to bring down the

Castro regime," the paper declared.1

Whatever the reason for the trial, on April 9, 1962, the

military tribunal found the 1,180 still-imprisoned members of

Brigade 2506 guilty of treason. They were given prison senten-

ces of up to 30 years but Castro offered to free them for $62

million in ransom. He had divided them into categories based

1Tampa Tribune, April 2, 1962.


upon their participation in the invasion and had put varying

prices upon the individuals' heads.

A "Cuban Families Committee" represented by James B.

Donovan, a prominent New York attorney, began negotiations

with Castro for the release of the prisoners, amid rising

protests against the second round of Cuban "blackmail."

There was a wide diversity of opinion on the effects

the ransom money could have upon the embargoed Cuban economy

if paid. Dom Bonafede, in a Herald news analysis, reported

that "the $62 million won't mean much in a Castro effort to

stave off unrest among the Cuban people, as the deterioration

in the Cuban economy has gone far beyond the need of such a

small amount."2

The Tampa Tribune, in an April 10, 1962, editorial,

argued against ransoming the prisoners as "Castro needs

dollars desperately, that's the reason for the ransom

scheme. The Cuban economy is faltering and pressure is

building on Castro." The editorial emphasized that the $62

million was more than two years' tobacco sales to the U.S.

and would strengthen Castro's regime immeasurably. It con-

cluded that "conceivably the money could mean the difference

between a continuance of Communist rule in Cuba or its over-

throw by popular uprising. Sympathy urges the ransoming of

the prisoners, but we should also recognize sympathy for the

six million Cubans whose enslavement by communism would

certainly be prolonged thereby."

2Miami Herald, April 10, 1962. ..

The Orlando Sentinel also counseled against paying the

ransom, not so much due to economics but rather to principle.

The paper noted editorially that if the ransom were only a

dollar a man, the principle would be the same and although
"our hearts bleed for the abortive invasion victims" it is

still blackmail and unacceptable. The paper noted also that a

"pretty good war of liberation for Cuba" could be fought for

$62 million and suggested this as a more acceptable alter-


The Pensacola Journal also pointed out editorially that

if, by chance, Castro did get the $62 million which his

faltering economy needed so badly "it would give his economy

a shot in the arm and would thus evade, for a time, the con-

sequences of the tight embargo against trade with Cuba which

this country has imposed."'

The administration remained aloof from the prisoner

ransom negotiations at first; however, President Kennedy made

known his tacit approval of the project. Much of the same

criticism raised over the tractor swap was again raised over

the ransom effort, but perhaps more intensely due to the U.S.

embargo efforts and the reported condition of Cuba's economy.

Some 54 sick and wounded prisoners were released on

credit and returned to Miami on April 15, reportedly drawing

the largest crowd ever to visit Miami International Airport.

All but approximately one column of the Miami Herald's front

3Orlando Sentinel, April 11, 1962.

4Pensacola Journal, April 10, 1962.

page on April 15 was devoted to stories about the prisoners

and their arrival and reception. Also noted was a report from

the liberation committee indicating that less than $2 million

had been raised in cash and $26 million in pledges of food-

stuffs and equipment.

The criticism of the ransom effort and of the Admin-

istration's support of it continued to increase in volume and

sharpen in tone. The Tampa Tribune, the most steadfast critic

of the five papers studied, succinctly expressed the general

attitude against the ransom in pointing out that "It seems

unbelievable that the Kennedy administration would sanction

a scheme to ease Castro's dollar shortage when the Cuban

economy is on the verge of collapse."5

5Tampa Tribune, April 15, 1962.



On August 31, 1962, a U.S. Navy plane on a training

flight off Cuba was fired upon by two boats believed to be

Cuban. The incident received considerable play in the press

as it came at a time of "heightened tension" in U.S.-Cuban

relations due to large scale arrivals of Soviet equipment

and technicians at Cuban ports.1

There had been growing rumors and reports from Cuban

refugees and Congressional critics of the administration

of the installation of missile sites and the presence of

Soviet troops in Cuba, all of which were played down by the


On September 2, the Soviet Union announced it had agreed

to supply arms and technicians to Cuba to help build up its

defense forces against "imperialist threats of aggression."

Appropriately enough, a sidebar to the story in some of the

papers noted mounting pressure in Congress for military inter-
vention to destroy Castro's regime.

The Soviet buildup in Cuba became a frequent editorial

topic for the papers. The Tampa Tribune, in an early editorial

warning and call for action, analyzed the Soviet move as an

1Miami Herald, September 1, 1962.

Orlando Sentinel and Miami Herald, September 3, 1962.

effort to "rescue Cuba from the disorder into which Castro's

irrational administration has thrown it" so it wouldn't

collapse internally. The Tribune editorially prophesied that

"Russia means to control Cuba, and if they do, they will

certainly set up missile bases which can be aimed at targets

in the U.S."3

The Miami Herald saw the Soviet announcement of military

support for Cuba as an "open challenge" with the U.S. and

Cuba on a collision course. The paper declared that "we may

have waited too long to root out this evil from the heart of

the Americas without heavy cost. But the Soviet Union has now

left no doubt that the longer we wait, the harder will be the

inevitable task."

President Kennedy responded to the Soviet buildup in a

statement released September 5, in which he declared that the

U.S. would take "whatever means may be necessary" to prevent

Cuba's use of arms against any part of the Western Hemis-

phere. He explained that "as yet there is no evidence of any

significant buildup of Cuban offensive capabilities through

the big influx of arms from the Communist bloc. Were it to

be otherwise, the gravest of issues would arise."5

The President's statement pacified few, however. The

(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union noted editorially that the

3Tampa Tribune, September 2, 1962.

4Miami Herald, September 4, 1962.

5Tampa Tribune, Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel, Sep-
tember 5, 1962.


President's firm warnings were fine, but they needed backing

up. Somewhat sarcastically, .the editorial charged:

The time is long overdue for calling a halt by
'whatever means may be necessary' to a clear, well
defined and proudly proclaimed Communist plan of
aggression in the Western Hemisphere from an impreg-
nable fortress on the nation's doorstep. Delay, com-
promise and equivocation will only postpone the
inevitable, with immeasurably increased cost in
blood, sweat and tears.6

The Orlando Sentinel also had a different editorial per-

spective of the Soviet arms buildup than the administration's.

The Sentinel declared that although the President did not

consider the problem too serious and that he feared an

invasion of Cuba would start World War III, it did not agree.

"We don't consider an ultimatum would lead to World War III

for the reason Krushchev isn't prepared to fight it." The

editorial suggested that the U.S. give Castro an ultimatum

"to expel the Russians or the U.S. will do it....If the

ultimatum means war, -then it's better to fight now than wait

till Russia has a million men in Cuba and enough missiles and

launching bases to insure our defeat."7

By the middle of September the pitch of the demands for

U.S. action against Cuba had reached an ominous rumble. Con-

gress, the public and the press were growing steadily more

critical and irritated with the administration's "do-nothing"


The focus of the Cuban-American conflict was, for the

6(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, September 6, 1962.

7Orlando Sentinel, September 5, 1962.

most part, redirected with the introduction of Russian arms

and technicians. The conflict became a Soviet-American con-

flict, and the desire to rid Cuba of communism took on even

more determined and bitter tones.

On September 11, 1962, the Soviet Union warned that any

attack by the U.S. upon Cuba or upon Soviet ships in the

Caribbean would mean war. The Miami Herald, in a perceptive

editorial response to the threat, noted that it was the third

time that the Soviets had threatened the U.S. over Cuba. It

emphasized the changing focus of the Cuban conflict and

pointed out that the introduction of Soviet military forces

into the Western Hemisphere "becomes a fact far more impor-

tant than the rise of a seedy dictator in Cuba." The Herald,

in as plain and straightforward a manner as possible, declared

that it was time to call Krushchev's bluff and "tell the

Soviet military cooly and calmly to get the hell out of Cuba

and stay out."8

In the face of continuing rumors and reports of offensive

missile installations and Soviet troop concentrations in Cuba,

the American public and the press grew more.and more upset.

Many of the reports originated with Cuban refugees and exile

groups and although they got considerable press coverage, the

administration tended to ignore them as unreliable, since they

could not be confirmed by U.S. sources.

President Kennedy also tended to downgrade the early

intelligence agencies' suspicions of possible installation of

Miami Herald, September 12, 1962.

offensive missiles, perhaps due partially to his "once

burned, twice shy attitude towards the CIA and the Joint

Chiefs of Staff. The Bay of Pigs adventure had taught him to

be skeptical of the professionals."9

The introduction of missiles into Cuba was such a rash

and dangerous act that the President and his advisors must

have found it difficult, if not impossible, to believe that

Krushchev would take such a gamble. Also, the Soviet denials

of the missile installations made it that much harder for the

administration to believe the reports and rumors,*as the

denials logically pointed out that the Soviets already had

ICBM's on line inside the Soviet Union that could reach the


Pressure from Congress escalated also. On September 20,

1962, the Senate passed a joint resolution sanctioning the

use of force, if necessary, to curb Cuban aggression and

Communist subversion in the Western Hemisphere. The resolu-

tion passed the Senate by a vote of 86 to 1, and the single

objector, Senator Winston L. Prouty of Vermont, did so

because he didn't think the resolution went far enough.

The House of Representatives, by a vote of 382 to 7,

adopted the joint resolution on September 26, 1962, and again

the main objections in debate were that perhaps it was not

worded strongly enough.

As 1962 was an election year and the campaigns were

9Elie Abel, The Missile Crisis (Philadelphia: J.B.
Lippincott Co.., 19bb), p. 40.

approaching full swing, Cuba became a political hot potato.

The political outs seized upon the Cuban situation as a major

campaign issue and denounced the Kennedy administration for

the Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco and the presence of Soviet

military forces 90 miles from the U.S. shore. The Kennedy

critics charged the administration with playing a game of

semantics over the Soviet buildup. They declared that the

Cuban surface-to-air (SAM) missiles which the administration

continued to call defensive weapons were, indeed, offensive,

as were the MIG fighters and patrol boats with guided missile

armaments which had arrived in the Soviet arms shipments.

President Kennedy came in for considerable editorial

abuse, as did the State Department, over the Soviet presence

in Cuba. Although all the papers acknowledged the changed

relationship due to the Soviet intervention and the possi-

bility of a major, large-power confrontation, they all called

for action. Few prescribed exactly what action was appropri-

ate, although by late September recommendations became more

and more specific with less and less concern over the con-


The Tampa Tribune endorsed a proposal by Senator George

Smathers, a staunch anti-Castro critic, for recognition of a

Cuban government in exile and an "inter-American military

alliance to act against.Cuba." This proposal was also sup-

ported by the Orlando Sentinel, which, along with the Tribune,

was the most "editorially militant" of the papers studied.10

10Tampa Tribune, September 19, 1962 and Orlando Sentinel,
September 29, 1962.

The captured Cuban exiles came back into the news in

early October, as James Donovan was reportedly finalizing the

$62 million ransom negotiations with Castro. The U.S. Govern-

ment's role in the negotiations was reportedly unknown, but

the ransom arrangement flamed the criticism of the Kennedy

administration even higher.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union and the Tampa

Tribune saw the administration's influence in the negotiations.

The Times-Union saw the "connivance" by the administration in

the "blackmail" arrangements as an "ultimate degrading demon-

stration of the spirit of compromise and abandonment of the

traditional will to win."11 The Tribune compared the admin-

istration's Cuban policy to the round-and-round movement of a

dog's wagging tail. "This circular movement--support for an

invasion but not enough to win, a blockade sign in one hand

and ransom money in the other--has gone on so long that the

average American has grown dizzy watching it."12

The movement of Soviet personnel and materiel into Cuba

during the buildup was closely watched by the U.S. Government.

All Soviet vessels bound for Cuba were photographed and the

island itself was covered twice a month by aerial reconnais-

sance flights. A special daily intelligence report was begun

on August 27, 1962, and the hundreds of Cuban refugee reports

of surface-to-surface missile sightings were checked out. All

11(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, October 12, 1962.

12Tampa Tribune, October 12, 1962.

such reports of offensive missiles proved to be false, how-

ever, due to the refugees' inability to distinguish between

offensive missiles and the defensive SAM missiles, or "wishful

thinking" of the anti-Castro refugees hoping to prompt the

U.S. into attacking Cuba. Reports by Cuban refugees of missile

installations on the island had begun well before 1960 and

the receipt of "Soviet arms of any kind."13

The U.S. increased its U-2 overflights of Cuba when

Castro began installing the Russian SAM sites. On October 14,

suspicious of unusual activity reported in Pinar del Rio,

west of Havana, the U-2 reconnaissance mission photographed

the area, particularly near the town of San Cristobal. The

developed photographs showed concrete proof of construction

of offensive missile sites. The Cuban missile crisis was on.

The offensive missile site construction was given the

highest security classification and was known only to a small

group of government department heads directly involved and a

few trusted Kennedy advisors, who comprised the impromptu

Executive Committee of the National Security Council. The

committee met secretly with President Kennedy numerous times,

from shortly after discovery of the missile sites until

October 22, when the missile crisis was announced to the

nation. This small group of men helped frame the U.S. response

13Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy (New York: Harper & Row,
1965), p. 669.


to the awesome threat posed by the missile installations.14

Although the activities of the committee were kept in

strictest secrecy until the U.S. response could be decided

upon and preparations made, some of the Washington reporters

became suspicious. Paul Scott and Robert S. Allen published a

column on October 19 reporting the discovery of offensive

missile sites in Cuba. The Pentagon issued a denial of the

report, stating that they had no information indicating the

presence of missiles in Cuba and also that no alert had been

ordered and no emergency plans had been put in effect against


Most of the papers carried wire stories on October 19

reporting the transfer of a Navy squadron of F4B Phantom jet

fighters from Virginia to Key West. Although the story noted

that the transfer was explained by official sources to be a

normal response to Castro's receipt of new MIG fighters and

nothing unusual, it was also pointed out that U.S. plans for

a "quarantine" of Cuban shipping were reportedly being worked


By Saturday, October 20, James Reston of the New York

Times had run down most of the facts of the missile crisis,

but at the urging of presidential advisors George Ball and

McGeorge Bundy he sat on the story "in the interests of

14Abel, p. 46.
1Ibid., p. 84. In truth, the alert order had just prev-
iously gone out that day to the Atlantic and Caribbean Commands.
16Pensacola Journal and Orlando Sentinel, October 19,


national security.'17

The troop movements and naval deployment in response to

the crisis and in preparation for U.S. reaction drew the

attention of the press. The Washington Post, New York Times

and New York Herald-Tribune had pieced together fairly

accurate stories on the impending U.S. action, but the papers'

publishers responded to an appeal by the President and Sec-

retary of Defense not to report the U.S. actions in Monday

morning's editions.18

The stories that they and the wire services did publish

noted only "an air of crisis" in Washington; troop movements

to the Florida Keys and a Navy and Marine military exercise

near Puerto Rico. The stories speculated that the activity

had to do with the Cuban situation, however.19

The administration secretly briefed America's allies

on October 21 and 22. At 7 p.m. on October 22, 1962, President

Kennedy announced the Cuban missile crisis to the public over

national network radio and television and over a Spanish

language radio network hookup which reached throughout Latin

America. Soviet Ambassador Anatoyl Dobrynin was presented a

copy of the President's speech and the U.S. position and

demands one hour before the announcement.

1Abel, p. 99.
18Ibid., pp. 108-109.
19Pensacola Journal, (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union,
Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Tribune and Miami Herald, October 22,



The President's announcement of the missile crisis was

covered in banner headlines in all the papers the next

morning.1 Most of the papers devoted their entire front pages,

as well as voluminous inside page space, to the missile

crisis and the U.S. response.

The entire text of the President's speech was printed

inside by all the papers and its major seven points were

extracted and given front page play. These seven points

included a quarantine of ships bearing offensive weapons to

Cuba; continued close surveillance of Cuba; retaliation

against the Soviet Union for any missile attack launched from

Cuba; reinforcement of Guantanamo; a request of the OAS to

invoke inter-American defense pact provisions; a request for

an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and an

appeal to Krushchev to "halt and eliminate this clandestine,

reckless and provocative threat to world peace.

The Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel

declared strong support of the President's actions in

immediate editorials on Tuesday, October 23. Each of the

Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Pensacola
Journal and (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, October 23,

2 Ibid.

editorials noted that war with the Soviet Union was a very

real possibility, but that the choice was up to the Soviets. Ref

The Tribune couldn't resist pointing out that, in the paper's

opinion, the action was "18 months tardy but better late than

never" and that it would go far "to retrieve the mistakes of

the past."

The lead stories in all the papers on Wednesday, October

24, described the expected confrontation as 25 Soviet ships

reportedly steamed toward the blockade put into effect by the

U.S. Navy. The Organization of American States was reported

to have endorsed the arms quarantine by a 19 to 0 vote and the

world's capitals were nervously watching the outcome of the

blockade, which was seen as a "possible Cold War showdown on

the high seas."3

The missile crisis and related stories again took up

most of the front pages of all the papers. This was to continue

throughout the eight days of the crisis coverage, from

October 23 through October 30, 1962. Most of the editorial

pages on those respective days were also taken up with

editorials, opinion columns and letters to the editor on the

missile crisis.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union and the Pensacola

Journal expressed strong editorial support of the President's

actions. The Times-Union stoically noted that "only in risking

war is there hope of peace" and the Journal declared that "all

leading American newspapers endorse the naval quarantine, or

3(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, October 24, 1962.

blockade, and urge the American people, regardless of party,

to unite in support of the President."

The Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune and Orlando Sentinel,in

editorials on October 24, expressed a general feeling that h

although the blockade was a calculated risk, the Soviet Union

would probably not start a war over it.

Headlines the next day, reporting that some of the Soviet

ships had turned back and that Krushchev had called for a sum-

mit hearing to discuss the blockade, indicated that the three

papers were accurate in their appraisal, Krushchev, in a pub--

lic reply to an appeal from philosopher Bertrand Russell,

promised that the Soviet Union "will not make any reckless

decisions" but warned that it would defend its rights.5

The Tampa Tribune, in a sidebar on the blockade, reported

that 84 per cent of the persons interviewed in a Gallup poll

approved the blockade but many felt that it should have been

done sooner. The story explained that "President Kennedy's

decision eased many frustrations that had been building up

for months--the frustration of wanting to 'do something'

about Cuba, but not wanting to go to war."

President Kennedy's insistence on maintaining the block-

ade while Acting U.N. Secretary General U. Thant attempted to

Pensacola Journal and (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union,
October 24, 19b2.

5(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, Miami Herald, Pensa-
cola Journal, Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, October 25,

6Tampa.Tribune, October 25, 1962.

negotiate the removal of the missiles drew support from all

the papers. The U.S. had seized the initiative and in the

period of a slight easing of tension did not mean to relin-

quish it.

Columnist Roscoe Drummond saw the missile crisis as "a

radically different and potentially decisive stage" in the

Cold War. He pointed out that this was the first direct con-

frontation between the U.S. and Soviet military powers with no

intermediaries and the first time the U.S. had taken a stand

which could yield only one of three consequences--"the back-

down of the United States, the backdown of the Soviet Union

or war." Drummond added that the Soviet Union trades on the

universal fear of nuclear war to extend Soviet power but had

been called by the U.S. and no matter which side backed down,

the missile crisis would be.a turning point in the Cold War.7

The lead story in all the papers on October 27 reported

that the Soviets were continuing rapid completion of the

offensive missile sites in Cuba, apparently attempting to get

them operational as soon as possible. An administration

spokesman reportedly declared that if the offensive military

preparations did not stop, "further action" would be justi-

fied, implying that the "further action" threatened would

include bombing the missile sites or an invasion of Cuba.

J. M. Roberts, an Associated Press news analyst, reported

that Washington was laying the groundwork for more direct

action against the missile sites and he noted public speculation

7Tampa Tribune, October 26, 1962.

on whether nuclear or conventional weapons would be used.8

President Kennedy received a secret letter from Premier

Krushchev on October 26 which included vague proposals for

resolution of the Cuban crisis. Also, John Scali, diplomatic

correspondent for the American Broadcasting Company, was

contacted by the Soviet Embassy to pass on to the admin-

istration possible terms for resolution of the crisis. These

terms included:

1. The missile sites would be dismantled and
shipped back to the Soviet Union under
United Nations supervision.

2. Fidel Castro would pledge himself to accept
no offensive weapons in the future.

3. The United States would pledge itself not
to invade Cuba.9

Before President Kennedy could respond to the proposals,

a second letter from Krushchev was broadcast over Radio Moscow

on October 27, which called for swapping the Soviet Cuban

missile sites in exchange for the North Atlantic Treaty Organ-

ization missile sites in Turkey.

President Kennedy ignored the second Krushchev letter

and responded to the first, rephrasing the proposals more

precisely and reporting them acceptable to the U.S. The pro-

posals included Soviet removal of offensive weapons from Cuba

under U.N. supervision and a halt to further introduction of

such weapons into Cuba. The U.S. in return would remove the

naval blockade of Cuba and give assurances against an invasion.

8Ibid., October 27, 1962.

9Abel, p. 176.

The President emphasized that the first step towards

resolution of the crisis was the cessation of work on the

existing missile sites and that time was very short.10

The story of the President's response to Krushchev's

offer shared the headlines on October 28 with a report that

14,000 U.S. Air Force troop carrier reservists had been

called to active duty, implying that an airborne invasion was

in the making.

Premier Krushchev quickly accepted the terms contained in

President Kennedy's letter, broadcasting his reply over Radio

Moscow on Sunday morning, October 28. The acceptance was the

lead story in all the papers on October 29, with sidebars on

U.N. Secretary General U. Thant's preparations to fly to Cuba

to arrange for U.N. monitoring of the missile removal oper-

ations. The Miami Herald and Tampa Tribune also carried

stories underscoring the effect of the Soviet withdrawal on

Castro's reputation and pride.11

The Tribune, in an editorial on the same day, predicted

that the outcome of the crisis should destroy Castro as an

influence in Latin America. It noted that "this posturing

demagogue who proclaimed himself the 'liberator' of Cuba and

the champion of the Latin masses against 'Yankee imperialism'

has been exposed as the Kremlin's monkey-on-a-string, jerking

10Ibid., pp.198-199. The U.S. Air Force was prepared to
bomb the missile sites on the following Tuesday morning,
October 30, 1962.

11Miami Herald and Tampa Tribune, October 29, 1962.

and jumping at Krushchev's yank."12

The naval blockade was reported lifted during U. Thant's

two-day trip to Cuba in the October 30 issues-of all the

papers. On October 31, the lead story was on a tax cut, the

first day since October 23 that the missile crisis was not the

lead story--usually in banner headlines.

Criticism of the Soviet-U.S. agreement was quick in coming.

J. M. Roberts, in an AP news analysis, reported he was "dis-

turbed by the no invasion pledge" and declared that if it

means the Communists in Cuba are free to pursue their subver-

sion and sabotage without fear of the U.S., then the victory

is "very heavily qualified.l13

David Kraslow, of the Miami Herald's Washington bureau,

reported that removal of the missiles did not solve the prob-

lem of Communist. Cuba in the Western Hemisphere. He pointed

out, however, that since Cuba would no longer be available for

Soviet missile installations that it would gradually diminish

in importance to the Communists.14

Columnist David Lawrence described the crisis outcome as

a "hollow victory" if a victory at all. He declared that "the

U.S. Government has sacrificed an opportunity to liberate the

Cuban people."15

12Tampa Tribune, October 29, 1962.

13(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, October 30, 1962.

1Miami Herald, October 30, 1962.
1Tampa Tribune, October 31, 1962 and Orlando Sentinel,
November 1, 1962.

The Pensacola Journal also noted in an editorial entitled

"Red Backdown Points Way to Victory" that the crisis settle-

ment was being assessed as incomplete because Castro was not

booted out of Cuba and Communists still controlled the island.

The editorial noted that Castro had been exposed as a Soviet

pawn and the OAS had been solidified and been shown that they

had better "take strong, collective action, short of invasion,

to topple him from his wobbly eminence."l6

16Pensacola Journal, October 31, 1962.



The newspapers' criticism of the U.S.-Soviet settlement

of the missile crisis continued to mount through early Nov-

ember. Castro balked at allowing U.N. inspectors into Cuba to

verify the missile withdrawal and upon U. Thant's return from

his fruitless two-day negotiations with Castro, the U.S.

naval blockade was resumed.

The Tampa Tribune and the Orlando Sentinel both called

for an invasion of Cuba in response to Castro's refusal to

submit to international inspection. The Tribune editorial

urged the President to establish a 48-hour ultimatum during

which Russia could try to convince Castro to allow inspections.

If, at the end of the 48-hours, he still refused, then the

U.S. was urged to invade, as Castro's delaying tactics were

seen as eroding the prestige won by the President's firm

stand in the missile crisis.1

The Orlando Sentinel also called for a U.S. invasion,

but for different reasons. The Sentinel editorial declared

that the missile bases were not the issue in the Cuban crisis

but that communism was. The editorial criticized the Presi-

dent's "no invasion" pledge as "a renunciation of the Monroe 5

Doctrine" and noted that the Communists intend to subvert

Tampa Tribune, November 2, 1962.

Latin America first, then the U.S. and "the time to stop them

is now."2

The Miami Herald, in more moderate tones, also expressed

concern over the inspection stalemate. The paper called for

reassurance by national leaders during the uncertainty of the

negotiation period3 and expressed fear that Castro would be

"protected from the just wrath of his countrymen and neigh-

bors" and remain in power as a result of the negotiations--

a price too high to pay for the removal of the missiles.4

President Kennedy, in an address to the nation on Novem-

ber 2, 1962, reported that the missiles were being dismantled

and the sites destroyed and that progress was being made

towards satisfactory settlement of the crisis. As Fidel

Castro continued to refuse on-site inspection, a temporary

substitute was agreed upon by the U.S. and Soviet Union

whereby the U.S. Navy would make visual inspections of the

dismantled missiles at sea. The administration maintained,

however, that the check at sea did not remove the requirement

for on-site inspection.

None of the papers endorsed the at-sea inspection pro-

posals for the missile withdrawal, and most continued to call

for an invasion of Cuba to get the Communists out along with

the missiles. Nevertheless .the at-sea inspection was utilized

2Orlando Sentinel, November 2, 1962.

3Miami Herald, November 1, 1962.

4Ibid., November 9, 1962.

to check out 42 missiles which were dismantled and shipped

back to the Soviet Union. Wire stories on November 11, 1962,

reported that "most, if not all" of the long range ballistic

missiles had been removed from Cuba.5

On the same day, however, the administration announced

that the missile withdrawal had been only a partial fulfill-

ment of the settlement agreement and that thirty to forty

IL-28 medium bombers which the Soviets had given Castro were

also "offensive weapons" and would have to go. Castro vigor-

ously protested that the bombers had been given to him by the

Soviet Union and that they were Cuban property and would stay.

The Cuban crisis began to heat up again in mid-November

as Castro continued to hold back the IL-28 bombers and

threatened to shoot down future U.S. reconnaissance planes

found in Cuban air space. The administration was reported to

be determined to take "appropriate measures" to protect con-

tinuing reconnaissance flights, with hints at fighter escorts

and "pin-point bombing attacks on anti-aircraft installations."6

President Kennedy scheduled a news conference for Novem-

ber 20, amid much speculation that it was to announce a new

administration policy regarding removal of the bombers. A few

hours before the news conference a letter from Krushchev was

received, pledging that the IL-28 bombers would be withdrawn

within 30 days, under inspection, and that the Soviet combat

5Orlando Sentinel, November 11, 1962.

Ibid., November 17, 1962.

troops in Cuba would be withdrawn shortly thereafter.7

The wire service accounts of the President's statement,

which was carried as the lead story by most of the papers,

reported that the bombers would be out within 30 days and

that the President ordered the naval blockade lifted. Pres-

ident Kennedy reportedly emphasized that the problem of

achieving international inspection remained and that the U.S.

would continue intensive aerial surveillance indefinitely,

until such inspection was achieved. He explained that his

"no invasion" pledge would be withheld pending satisfactory

inspection of the Cuban missile sites.

The President's announcement was editorially examined by

all the papers on October 22 and was met with a variety of.

interpretations. Some, such as the Tampa Tribune and (Jack-

sonville) Florida Times-Union, strongly criticized the Pres-

ident for not demanding on-site inspections of Cuba. The

Miami Herald sharply criticized "apparent indecision" by the

President for the past month and saw the bomber withdrawal

and blockade end as not making much change in the Cuban

threat. The Herald noted that neither the U.S. nor friendly

Latin countries would be safe until Castro's regime was

removed from Cuba. The Pensacola Journal and Orlando Sentinel,

however, praised the President's great success in forcing the

Soviet missiles and bombers out of Cuba.

The.editorial position taken by the Orlando Sentinel, a

Sorenson, p. 721.

Orlando Sentinel and Tampa Tribune, November 21, 1962.

dedicated Castro critic and invasion supporter, was the most.

surprising. The editorial, entitled "JFK Achieves Peace With

Honor," noted:

We've been saying Castro should be strung
up, boiled in oil, drawn and quartered, chased
out of Cuba.

We don't take back anything we've indicted
him for, but at the rate things are going, and
with Mr. Kennedy's firm insistence upon a Cuba
unable to be aggressive, time should take care
of Castro.

In other words, we don't think it is
necessary for the U.S. to invade Cuba now.9

On November 21, 1962, President Kennedy announced the

lifting of 12 restrictive guidelines on news that had been

instituted during the crisis on October 24, 1962. In com-

menting on the secrecy of the events leading up to his

announcement of the missiles in Cuba, he explained that the

administration did not want to make known the extent of the

information it possessed until it had determined what the U.S.

response would be. He noted that during the crisis week that

followed, further restrictions on news were due to an attempt

to "have the government speak with one voice."10

The 12 restrictions regulated various categories of

military information that was not to be made public during

the crisis and which was regarded as "vital to national

security." The administration had no executive authority to

enforce the restrictions upon the news media but instead

9Orlando Sentinel, November 22, 1962.
Pensacola Journal, November 21, 1962.

appealed for their cooperation and discretion in handling the

sensitive information.11

The Miami Herald had, at the time, reported the adminis-

tration's introduction of the restrictions and appeal to the

news media for cooperation. Below the story, it also ran a

note that the Herald was "cooperating fully with the White

House request for caution in publishing information vital to

the national security during the Cuban crisis.12

John S. Knight, Herald publisher, was highly critical of

the news coverage of the missile buildup, however. In his

weekly column, "The Publisher's Notebook," he charged that I

newsmen rely too heavily on official sources for the news,

and that they should be:

...more alert, more resourceful, more industrious
and infinitely more skeptical of the news handouts
preferred by public officials. These releases do
not, in fact, necessarily shatter the truth, but
they often fail to tell the whole story. The
reporter's business is to find the news elements
which are missing.13

Arthur Sylvester, assistant secretary of defense for

public affairs, announced the last of October that the Cuban

crisis news had been "managed" by the administration as a

weapon against the Communists. His statement drew quick and

loud editorial blasts from several of the papers against the

administration's news policy.

1Abel, p. 152.

12Miami Herald, October 25, 1962.

1Ibid., October 28, 1962.

The Tampa Tribune attacked the news policy endorsed by

Sylvester of "speaking in one voice to your adversary,"

pointing out that the "lifeblood of a free society is the

free flow of public information. When the government sets out

to control the content and timing of news of official activ-

ities, it straps blinders on the public which permits it to

see only one direction."14

The Miami Herald pointed out that Sylvester's reputed

efforts to keep the Soviet Union guessing and prevent them

from knowing how much the administration knew by manipulating

the news also "kept the American people from full access to

the facts in an hour of deep national peril."15

David Lawrence declared in his column that suppression

of military news in time of international emergency was

defensible, however, deliberate misrepresentation was "inde-

fensible in a democracy" and carried grave consequences for

an administration's credulity.16

James Reston, of the New York Times, expressed a differ-

ent opinion of the administration's news manipulation. He

noted in an opinion column that the administration was being

charged with "calculated deceit" in its handling of the news

during the Cuban crisis. He defended the administration's

actions explaining:

There is without question some truth in
this charge. The President didn't come back.

Tampa Tribune, November 1, 1962.

15Miami Herald, November 1, 1962.
160rlando Sentinel, November 3, 1962.

from Chicago on October 20 because he had a
'cold.' The Marines weren't moved.from Cali-
fornia to Florida as a 'normal exercise.' The
naval maneuvers in the Caribbean were not
called off because of hurricane Ella. The
Soviet missiles in Cuba were known to be 'offen-
sive' days before some officials were saying
they were 'purely defensive.' And the President
was not precisely-on the point of 'invading
Cuba' when Krushchev withdrew ... at one time or
another some official encouraged publication of
all these things.

The question in the present case, therefore,
is not whether the administration told all the
truth--obviously it didn't--but whether, under
the grave circumstances of the crisis it con-
ducted itself in a dishonorable way.l (_

Sylvester, in response to his critics, blatently denied

the charges, declaring that "contrary to some of the edi-

torials and columnists I have read, there has been no distor-

tion, no deception and no manipulation of the news released

by the Defense Department during theCuban crisis."18

The controversy over the settlement continued through

the middle of December, with President Kennedy withholding

his "no invasion" pledge and Premier Krushchev warning the

U.S. to honor its pledge not to invade Cuba. U.S. policy

toward Cuba became one of applying pressure on Castro econom-

ically and diplomatically in isolating his regime.

According to a Miami Herald editorial, it cost the Soviet

Union $1 million daily for supplies just to keep Cuba alive

and that was barely enough. The missile crisis reportedly

cost the Soviets $1 billion and the controversial arms sent

17Ibid., November 2, 1962.
8Tampa Tribune, November 2, 1962.

to Cuba cost some $912 million. The editorial pointed out

that Cuba cost the Soviets twice as much in 1962 as the U.S.

invested in aid to all of Latin America and that the amount

was not nearly enough. It noted matter-of-factly that "Castro

may be around for some time while the Cuban economy strangles

and the myth of Communist plenty grows bitter."19

The administration's emphasis on economically strangling

Castro, which was beginning to be reluctantly accepted by the

newspapers, produced some criticism upon the announcement

that Castro and James Donovan were again nearing.agreement on

the prisoners' release for $62 million in food, drugs and


The Tampa Tribune expressed sympathy for the prisoners

but argued against paying the ransom, whether it was in "cash

or strained carrots." The editorial criticized the Kennedy

administration's tacit approval of the negotiation, which it

called an "exercise in schizophrenia" since the President

was ready only a few weeks earlier to invade Cuba.20

Negotiations were completed on December 23, 1962, and

the first of the remaining 1,113 prisoners began leaving Cuba

by air for Miami. The administration's involvement in the

ransom collection was discovered to be considerably more than

"tacit approval" despite denials by administration spokesmen,

and the tone of the newspapers' criticism sharpened.

1Miami Herald, December 15, 1962.
Tampa Tribune, December 17, 1962.

The Tampa Tribune declared that the American people

could take little pride in the way the ransom was achieved as

it was a "shameful reflection" upon the U.S. which would

inevitably tarnish U.S. prestige. The paper sarcastically

expressed hope that the administration, in the future, would

act "as forthrightly against Castro as it has so deviously in

the ransom negotiations."21

The Miami Herald charged that "pharmaceutical houses,

food processors and an airline were held up at the point of

an income tax return to cooperate with the Federal government"

in arranging the ransom. The Herald noted that "high officials

ram-rodded the whole thing, all the while denying that they

had any part in it" and then bitterly added that "it is no

longer a secret that getting a straight answer to a straight
question in Washington today is the next thing to futility."22

The Orlando Sentinel in a short editorial quietly noted

only that the paper disagreed with paying the ransom but that
"we rejoice with the prisoners and their families that the

matter has been settled."23-

The Pensacola Journal, on the other hand, declared that

the U.S. was "obligated to the prisoners in a way" although

it was not a legal or perhaps moral duty and "as long as

Tampa Tribune, December 24, 1962.
Miami Herald, December 22, 1962.

23Orlando Sentinel, December 27, 1962

those men remained confined the consciences of North Amer-

icans were pricked."24

The arrival of the prisoners in Miami on December 23 and

24 was-well covered by all the papers. The Miami Herald, in

particular, covered the prisoners from every angle and ran

pages of personal interviews and stories of them and their

families. The prisoners again made headlines on Degember 29,

when the President reviewed them and received their battle

flag in ceremonies at the Orange Bowl. In accepting the flag,

the President declared "I can assure you that this flag will

be returned to the brigade in a free Havana."25

The Miami Herald, in a front page editorial entitled

"Turning of the Corner," pointed out that the President, in

his speech, had "bound the U.S. in honor to help wrest Cuba

from the foul tyranny which infests it" and that there can be

no more "confusion of interest and befuddlement of strategy...

no more vacillation and no more turning back."26

Although the Herald's view was what the Cuban refugees

wanted to hear and was agreed upon in principle by most of

the papers, it was quite different from the actual policy

adopted by the administration following the Cuban missile

crisis. The U.S. policy was reported as one which "wants

Prime Minister Fidel Castro overthrown but, barring Cuban

24Pensacola Journal, December 27, 1962.

25Johnson, p. 344.
26iami Herald, December 30, 1962.
Miami Herald, December 30, 1962.

aggression or threats to the peace of Caribbean neighbors, it

has no intention of launching an invasion or permitting one

by Cuban exiles."27

Columnist David Lawrence succinctly described the post-

crisis Cuban situation as being "back where it was before,

but this time with Castro getting a new lease on life for his

revolutionary government--secure against any invasion from

the U.S.128

On January 7, 1963, the U.S. and Soviet Union issued a

joint statement formally ending direct negotiations over the

Cuban missile crisis but leaving several major issues

unresolved. The negotiations were terminated on the basis

that Castro refused to permit on-site inspections in Cuba and

the U.S., as a result, did not issue the "no invasion" pledge.

The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, in commenting on

the close of negotiations, lamented that the United States'

military victory in the missile crisis had been "swallowed up

in a diplomatic stalemate....The island thus remains con-

firmed as a Communist satellite, boasting an unknown quantity

of Soviet-supplied military manpower and arms and a continuing

threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere."29

The presence of Castro's Communist regime, still'firmly

entrenched just 90 miles from Florida after all the oppor-

tunities for removal during the Bay of Pigs invasion and

27Pensacola Journal, January 2, 1963.
28Orlando Sentinel, December 29, 1962.

29(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, January 9, 1963.

missile crisis, was a constant irritation to the papers. The

slow rate of withdrawal of Soviet military forces from Cuba

aggravated the situation even more during the first three

months of 1963, as did Cuban refugee claims of Castro's loss

of support in Cuba; of missiles hidden in caves and of a vast

Cuban military arms buildup.

Although a majority of the public seemed to agree with

the papers that Cuba was a threat, they did not agree with

the editorials and opinion columns which still urged U.S.

military action. Response to a Gallup poll reported in late

February indicated that 59 per cent of those polled thought

the Cuban situation was a current threat to world peace. Only

31 per cent felt that it was not a threat and 10 per cent had

no opinion. In response to a question of whether the U.S.

should send armed forces into Cuba, however, only 20 per cent

agreed, 64 per cent disagreed and 16 per cent had no opinion.30

The newspapers continued to apply editorial pressure on

the Kennedy administration. The Miami Herald declared that

"North American anger over the nearby combat troops was plain.

Alarm in Latin American capitals was mounting. No one doubted

that another showdown was approaching with the possibility of

another nuclear confrontation."31

The Pensacola Journal, which had made no editorial

comment on the Cuban situation throughout early 1963, spoke

out against the administration's critics. In an editorial

3Tampa Tribune, February 27, 1963.

31Miami Herald, February 21, 1963.

reprinted from the Louisville Courier-Journal, the paper

blasted irresponsible politicians and critics for a "one-way

propaganda campaign, conducted in newspaper headlines." The

editorial pointed out that "heavy charges are made without

substantiation; shocking figures are cited without disclosure

of their sources. Obviously, hot words on the Cuban crisis

form a passport to the golden realms of publicity."32

The growing public antagonism over Cuba peaked somewhat

in late March, following a MIG attack on an unmarked American

shrimp boat near the Cuban coast and several Cuban exile hit-

and-run raids on Soviet freighters in Cuban waters.

Cuba's quick apology over the MIG attack was reportedly

seen by Western diplomats as an "indication that the Castro

regime wants to prevent the Caribbean cold war from becoming


Moscow charged the U.S. with violation of the Cuban

missile crisis agreement by backing the anti-Castro exile

raids which damaged the Soviet freighters Lgov, on March 17,

1963, and Baka, on March 26, 1963. The administration denied

the accusations but "deplored .the attacks as irresponsible"

and charged that they did not weaken the Communist grip on

Cuba, but instead strengthened it.34

As a result, the administration announced the implemen-

tation of the Neutrality Act to stop the exile raids, which

32Pensacola Journal, February 23, 1963.

33Miami Herald, March 31, 1963.

34Tampa Tribune and Pensacola Journal, March 28, 1963.

they charged could "light a spark in the explosive Caribbean

atmosphere."35 The Neutrality Act provided penalties of up to

three years imprisonment and $3,000 fine for those taking

part in a military or naval expedition from the U.S. against

a nation with which the U.S. was not at war.

The Tampa Tribune objected to the administration's

clamp-down on the exile raiders. The paper noted that "except

for making speeches promising eventual Cuban freedom, the

Kennedy administration has done precious little to upset

Castro."36 It called upon the administration to build and

supply an effective Cuban.underground and to help support the

exile raiders' efforts against Castro.

The Kennedy administration maintained its announced pos-

ition of isolating Cuba and neutralizing any efforts at

sabotage and subversion in the other Latin American countries.

The President continued to reject proposals to bring Castro

down militarily, actions which he pointed out would bring the

U.S. to the brink of war again.

In time the criticism and controversy over Castro's

presence faded and was replaced in the newspapers' headlines

and editorial columns by other concerns through the remainder

of 1963.

(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, March 31,- 1963.

STampa Tribune, March 29, 1963.


In analyzing the news reports and editorials published

in these five newspapers during the 27-month study period, it

can be seen that the press coverage given the Cuban events

during this time is a continuation and a magnification of the

"intensive superficial coverage"1 which Fullmer used to des-

cribe the coverage of the Castro revolution.

That is, in the coverage of both the Bay of Pigs invasion

and the missile crisis, the papers neglected, for the most

part, to.report the important background information necessary

to place the news events in proper perspective. Not only were

they negligent in this respect, but much of the news that was

reported was strongly biased. What the papers saw in the

Cuban conflict during this period strongly affected their own

political ideologies and much of the news coverage that was

given was colored by editorial manipulation and controlled


Albeit the manipulation of the news was seen to be in

the national interest, it nonetheless assaulted traditional

journalistic standards while prompting little retrospective

journalistic soul-searching.

The papers woefully misled the public over the Bay of

Pigs invasion. Although many stories were published reporting

Fullmer, p. 107.

the Cuban exiles' activities and preparations for the invasion,

little or no accurate information was reported on the U.S.

involvement; on conditions in Cuba and Castro's strength or

on the advisability or morality of the pending invasion.

News coverage of the invasion was the nadir of the

papers' performance during this study period. Not only did

they mislead the public for several months prior to the

invasion, the invasion accounts themselves were replete with

erroneous and false information.2 Although most such stories

were tagged as unsubstantiated, some were not.

The press knew most of the details of the impending

Cuban invasion and although some papers reported the story,

most sat on it. After the invasion failure, President Kennedy

told Turner Catledge, then managing editor of the New York

Times,.that he wished more information had been disclosed

than was, because then perhaps the American people might have

forced cancellation of "one of the most.embarrassing American

military and diplomatic adventures of the century."3

One of the most discerning evaluations of the Cuban

invasion censorship points out that:

After it was over some of the same indiv-
iduals who talked magazines and newspapers out of
running factual articles on the CIA venture con-
ceded that they wished the editors hadn't
listened. If there is any utility in freedom of
the press, it is precisely that the press can act

2Bradford, p. 72. "The Miami papers--closest to the
story--became almost a partner in the venture. Not only did
they hold back on publishing all they knew, they also
sidetracked other newspapers from doing so."

3James Reston, The Artillery of the Press (New York:
Harper and Row, Publishers, 190b), p. 30.

as an independent corrective on the blunders of
government'.-'With the best aand mos'patrid'6t
intentions, a great many newspapermen and some
administrative officials failed to rely on the
veryprinciples of freedom-T:o7 cthe" Cuban
invaders were ready to die.

Castro came under continued personal attack in these

five papers following the bitter invasion debacle. He was

seen as having the support of the lower classes and farmers,

but the country was projected as facing eventual economic

collapse and ruin. As the evidence of communism in Cuba grew,

the downfall of the Castro regime became ever more closely

linked to U.S. security and prestige in Latin America.

The growing Soviet presence in Cuba following the

invasion shifted the scope of the papers' criticism to

include Krushchev and the Soviet Union also. As the swiftly

developing events of the missile crisis unfolded, the focus

centered directly upon the Soviet Union while Castro was, to

a large degree,_ ignored.

Censorship of the Cuban missile crisis was more the

responsibility of the administration than the press, as the

information on the discovery of the missiles was kept as

secret as possible while the U.S. response was being formu-

lated. Several newspapers that had obtained the story prior

to the President's announcement, however, delayed publishing

it at the administration's request.5

.Karl E. Meyer and Tad Szulc, The Cuban Invasion (New
York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1962), p. 11b.

5Abel, pp. 98-109.

The press rallied behind the President's announcement of

the Cuban naval blockade and the coverage during the week of

crisis was considerable and consistently in support of the

administration. In the frustrating post-crisis days, however,

when it was realized that Castro would not be removed with

the missiles, most of the papers sharply criticized the

President's Cuban policies and attacked the administration's

manipulation of the news during the crisis.

Little discussion was presented on whether or not the

press should have participated in the decision-making phase

of the missile crisis. Perhaps the advent of intercontinental

ballistic missiles; thermo-nuclear weapons and strike times

which can be counted down in minutes have altered the role

of foreign affairs reporting?

Robert Kennedy in his detailed, inside account of the

missile crisis declared:

The time that was available to the President
and his advisors to work secretly, quietly, pri-
vately, developing a course of action and
recommendations for the President, was essential.
If our deliberations had been publicized, if we
had had to make a decision in twenty-four hours, v.
I believe the course that we ultimately would have '"
taken would have been quite different and filled
with far greater risks.... Such time is not always
present, although, perhaps surprisingly, on most
occasions of great crisis it is; but when it is,
it should be utilized.

In the case of the Bay of Pigs invasion, disclosure of

the administration's actions would probably have brought

Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days-A Memoir of the Cuban
Missile Crisis (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1969),
p. 111.

about a cancellation of the adventure. The same action in the

missile crisis would probably have forced premature action on

a world-shaking decision. Somewhere between the public's

right to know and the administration's need to control sen-

sitive military information in a time of national crisis

lies the proper avenue of press coverage for the two events.

The deliberate misleading of the press in an effort to

use the news coverage as a calculated foreign policy tool,

as was done in the missile crisis, lies nowhere within these

bounds, however, and endangers not only the public's right

to know but also the administration's credibility.

Likewise, the deliberate surpressing of the news; the

acceptance of questionable news sources and reliance upon

superficial information which shapes the news to reflect

political ideologies, as was done in reporting the Bay of

Pigs invasion, shakes the public trust in the press and is

perhaps the greatest danger of all.


Abel, Elie. The Missile Crisis. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippin-
cott Co., 1966.

Bradford, J. Allen Jr. "The Cuban Invasion: A Case Study in
Foreign Affairs Reporting." Unpublished Master's Thesis,
George Washington University, 1966.

Francis, Michael J. "The U.S. Press and Castro: A Study in
Declining Relations." Journalism Quarterly, (Summer,
1967), 257-66.
Fullmer, Thomas M. "A Critical Analysis of How Selected Flor-
ida Newspapers Reported the Cuban Revolution." Unpub-
lished Master's Thesis, University of Florida, 1965.

Houghton, Neal D. "The Cuban Invasion of 1961 and the U.S.
Press, in Retrospect." Journalism Quarterly, (Summer
1965), 422-32.

(Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, January 1961-March 1963.

Johnson, Haynes, et al. The Bay of Pigs. New York: W. W.
Norton & Co., Inc., 1964.

Kennedy, Robert F. Thirteen Days-A Memoir of the Cuban Missile
Crisis. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 19o9.

Larson, David L., ed. The "Cuban Crisis" of 1962. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1963.

Matthews, Herbert L. Return to Cuba. Stanford University:
Institute of Hispanic American and Luso-Brazilian
Studies, 1964.

Matthews, Herbert L. The Cuban Story. New York: George Bra-
ziller, 1961.

Meyer, Karl E., and Szulc, Tad. The Cuban Invasion. New York:
Frederick A. Praeger, 1962.

Miami Herald, January 1961-March 1963.

Monahan, James, and Gilmore, Kenneth 0. The Great Deception.
New York: Farrar, Straus & Co., 1963.

Orlando Sentinel, January 1961-March 1963.

Pachter, Henry M. Collision Course. New York: Frederick A.
Praeger, 1963.

Pensacola Journal, January 1961-March 1963.

Pflaum, Irving Peter. Tragic Island. New Jersey: Prentice-
Hall Inc., 1961.

Phillips, R. Hart. The Cuban Dilemma. New York: Ivan Obolen-
sky Inc., 1962.

Pierce, Catherine Joan. "The Cuban Missile Crisis-1962: A
Study in Executive Decision Making." Unpublished Master's
Thesis, University of Florida, 1965.

Reston, James. The Artillery of the Press. New York: Harper
& Row, Publishers, 196b.

Sorenson, Theodore C. Kennedy. New York: Harper & Row, Pub-
lishers, 1965.

Tampa Tribune, January 1961-March 1963.


Richard D. Shelton was born October 6, 1939, in Lake

Wales, Florida. In June, 1957, he graduated from Lake Wales

High School. From August, 1957, until June, 1965, he served

as an administrative specialist in the U.S. Air Force and

was stationed in Florida, Texas and Colorado. He attended

night classes at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado, for

two years prior to his discharge; enrolled at the University

of Florida in September, 1965, and received a Bachelor of

Science degree in Journalism in August, 1967.

In September, 1967, he enrolled in the Graduate School

of the University of Florida and worked as a graduate assis-

tant in the College of Journalism and Communications until

July, 1968. Upon completion of his thesis research and class

requirements he accepted the position of director of public

relations, and later acting general manager, of the Florida

Electric Cooperatives Association in Tallahassee. He is

presently the Information Director for the Florida Department

of Pollution Control. He has written for the Gainesville Sun,

radio station WGGG, Accent, All Florida Magazine and Florida

Rural'Electric News.

Richard D. Shelton is married to the former Dawn Marcelle

Alt and is the father of three daughters. He is a member of

Kappa Tau Alpha and the Florida Public Relations Association.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in Journalism
and Communications.

Joha/Paul Jones, Chairman
Dean, College of Journalism and Communications

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a thesis for the degree of Master of Artsin Journalism
and Communications.

Smith Kirkpatrick
Associate Professor of English

This thesis was submitted to the Dean of the College of
Journalism and Communications and to the Graduate Council,
and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of Master of Artsin Journalism and Communications.

November, 1971

Deant College Zof Jo nalism and Communications

Dean, Graduate School

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