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.
Profession as identified in US Embassy diplomatic cables
Number of citations
Name of the cable
political analyst, chairperson accreditation commission