WikiLeaks: A breakdown of Czech sources cited by the US Embassy in Prague

Six years of US embassy leaked cables show whom the Americans most often called upon (or cited) when interpreting Czech politics

 | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy foto: © ČESKÁ POZICEČeská pozice

Prague School of Economics (VSE) politics professor Vladimíra Dvořáková comes out head and shoulders above her peers as the US embassy in Prague’s most favored commentator between 2004 and 2010. Her name cropped up in the leaked WikiLeaks dispatches nine times in all.

Former political advisor to ex-president Václav Havel and director of New York University in Prague, Jiří Pehe, follows in second place among commentators, with the embassy relying much on his input in dispatches four times.

The fact that US President George W. Bush was installed in the White House over the period in question and the US ambassadors in Prague were prominent Republicans, William J. Cabaniss and Richard W. Graber, does not seem to have made much difference to the fact that the embassy drew on figures who are mainly known for their center or center-left views.

Dvořáková started to appear in dispatches from 2006 after she had just stepped down as vice-president of the prestigious International Political Science Association (IPSA).

Dvořáková started to appear in dispatches from 2006 after she had just stepped down as vice-president of the prestigious International Political Science Association (IPSA). The US embassy’s press office in Prague said she was tapped for information simply because she appeared so often in the media. Pehe, as a graduate of Columbia University, and as the local director of NYU, needed little introduction from the Czech press.

The US embassy cast its net wider with a handful of other political experts sought and mentioned. These include Bohumil Doležal, Miroslav Mareš and Zdeněk Zbořil. Why they didn not search out other experts — also educated in Western Universities and cited in learned journals — is unclear.

If the selection of the political experts and commentators appears a bit random, then that of the Czech journalists cited seems even more so. Jan Macháček, a prominent political and economic commentator for the business daily Hospodářské noviny, is mentioned just once, in connection with plans for a US radar station in the Czech Republic as part of its missile defense shield.

Mladá fronta dnes commentator and journalist Martin Komárek is also mentioned only once, and also in regard to a realm distant from his usual field, the banning of the far-right Workers’ Party (DS).

The journalists cited most in the WikiLeaks dispatches out of Prague are Hospodářské noviny’s Jiří Leschtina and Právo’s Alexandr Mitrofanov. They are each cited in two dispatches. Overall, the opinions of center-leaning journalists seem to prevail.

The US diplomats appear to have more time for sociologists than journalists, according to Czech Position’s research. The names of the directors of two of the biggest local opinion polling agencies, Jan Hartl of the STEM agency and Jan Herzmann of Factum Invenio, are cited seven times in total. After Dvořáková, Hartl is the second most sought after source of information for the US embassy (or at least publicly cited).

An overview of all the opinions sought by the US embassy reveal a clear preference to source those with centrist opinions

An overview of all the opinions sought by the US embassy in Prague reveal a clear preference to source those with centrist opinions. According to Czech Position’s assessment, nine commentators cited come from the center of the political spectrum, six from the center-left and left and five from the center-right and right.

Frequently, however, the leaked US diplomatic dispatches do not give a clear source of their information or comment, merely referring to “another expert” or “another analyst” and the like. That means that the table below does not represent all the opinions sought by or divulged to local US diplomats.

Name

Profession as identified in US Embassy diplomatic cables

Political affiliation

Number of citations

Name of the cable

Political scientists

    

Vladimíra Dvořáková

political analyst,  chairperson accreditation commission

center-left

9x

Corruptionism In The Czech Republic,

How To Succeed In Law School Without Really Trying,

Unreformed Communists Court Social Democrats,

Top 09: The Czech Republic's Newest Political Party,

Czech Government; First 100 Days - No Honeymoon, Uncertain Prospects,

Aging Czech Social Democrats Re-elect A Weakened Paroubek, Miss Chance For Change,

Conservative Government Takes Power In Prague - But For How Long?,

Czech Politics: CSSD Dumps ODS At The Altar And Proposes To Kdu-csl, But Far From Clear Marriage Will Take Place,

Czech Elections: ODS, The Wobbly Front Runner

Jiří Pehe

Political scientist, author, analyst

center-left

4x

Czech Elections: ODS, The Wobbly Front Runner,

Czech Republic: Communist Party Already De Facto Junior Partner Of The Ruling Social Democrats?,

16 Years After The End Of Communist Rule, Czechs Still Debating Propriety Of Communist Party, But Fewer And Fewer Object.,

 Czech Elections - Too Early And Too Close To Call, But Few Threats To U.s. Interests

Bohumil Doležal

political scientist, commentator

right-leaning

2x

Czech Elections: ODS, The Wobbly Front Runner,

Czech Republic: Communist Party Already De Facto Junior Partner Of The Ruling Social Democrats?

Zdeněk Zbořil

Charles University/expert on extremism

left-leaning

2x

Czech Court Bans Extreme-right Workers Party,

Czech Republic: Anarchist Riots Overshadow Planned Neo-nazi Marches, Thousands Peacefully Demonstrate Against Fascism

Miroslav Mareš

Masaryk University, expert on extremism

right-leaning

1x

Czech Court Bans Extreme-right Workers Party

Ivo Šlosarčík

Expert on the Lisabon Treaty, Charles University

centrist

1x

What Lisbon Reminds Us About President Klaus

Journalists

    

Alexandr Mitrofanov

Právo, political commentator

left-leaning

2x

Two Tracks Underway To Resolve Czech Election Turmoil,

Aging Czech Social Democrats Re-elect A Weakened Paroubek, Miss Chance For Change

Jiří Leschtina

Hospodářské noviny, commentator

centrist

2x

Czech Court Bans Extreme-right Workers Party,

Czech Election Turmoil: What Caused This Mess?

Petr Kamberský

Hospodářské noviny (now Lidové noviny)

center-right

1x

Two Tracks Underway To Resolve Czech Election Turmoil

Lenka Zlámalová

Hospodářské noviny (now Lidové noviny)

center-right

1x

Czech Republic: Privitazation Of Aero Vodochody Planned Before General Elections In June 2006

Jindřich Šídlo

political analyst on ČT (today a commentator Hospodářský noviny)

centrist

1x

No Surprises As Two Smaller Parties Elect Leaders

Erik Tabery

Respekt editor (today editor in chief)

centrist

1x

Czech Election Turmoil: What Caused This Mess?

Daniel Kaiser

Lidové noviny

center-right

1x

Czech Court Bans Extreme-right Workers Party

Peter Uhl

Právo

left-leaning

1x

Czech Court Bans Extreme-right Workers Party

Martin Komárek

MF Dnes

centrist

1x

Czech Court Bans Extreme-right Workers Party

Sociologists

    

Jan Hartl

political analyst, head of STEM

center-left

5x

Corruptionism In The Czech Republic,

20 Years After The Velvet Revolution: Politics Not So Plush,

Embassy Prague Sponsors Discussion On Extremism,

Czech Government; First 100 Days - No Honeymoon, Uncertain Prospects,

Czech Elections: ODS, The Wobbly Front Runner

Jan Herzmann

analyst, head of Factum Invenio

centrist

2x

Czech Government; First 100 Days - No Honeymoon, Uncertain Prospects,

Czech Elections: ODS, The Wobbly Front Runner

Ivan Gabal

sociologist, consultant

centrist

1x

Czech Public Debate On Missile Defense, Czech Elections: ODS, The Wobbly Front Runner

Karel Čada

sociologist

centrist

1x

Embassy Prague Sponsors Discussion On Extremism

Jiřina Šiklová

sociologist

centrist

1x

Embassy Prague Sponsors Discussion On Extremism