Wednesday, Aug 2, 2006 | Contact: Colleen O'Boyle (703) 683-5004
Sounding Like Cuban Propagandists, U.S. Journalists Praised "Great Success" of Castro's Red Regime
Decades of Cheering
As news organizations update their
obituaries of ailing Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, it's worth recalling how many
liberal journalists have fallen under Castro's spell over the years, sounding
like paid Cuban government propagandists as they touted the "great success
stories" of Castro's decades of communist rule.
For some in the media, it was love
at first sight. Back on January 18, 1959, New York Times
reporter Herbert L. Matthews exulted in Castro's seizure of Cuba:
"Everybody here seems agreed that Dr. Castro is one of the most
extraordinary figures ever to appear on the Latin-American scene. He
is by any standards a man of destiny."
After decades of poverty and
repression, the media's enthusiasm remained. Then-NBC reporter Maria
Shriver let Castro himself lead her on a tour of Havana. "The level
of public services was remarkable: free education, medicine and
heavily-subsidized housing," Shriver marveled on the February 28,
1988 Today. In the same broadcast, reporter Ed Rabel
dismissed worries about Cuba's "government intrusion" in citizen's
lives: "On a sunny day in a park in the old city of Havana, it is
difficult to see anything sinister."
Peter Jennings trumpeted "the revolution's great success stories."
On his April 3, 1989 World News Tonight, Jennings touted how
"medical care was once for the privileged few. Today it is available
to every Cuban, and it is free. Some of Cuba's health care is world
class....Health and education are the revolution's great success
Katie Couric was just as upbeat on
NBC's Today on Feb. 13, 1992: "Considered one of the most
charismatic leaders of the 20th century....Castro traveled the
country cultivating his image and his revolution delivered.
Campaigns stamped out illiteracy and even today, Cuba has one of the
lowest infant mortality rates in the world."
On the September 4, 1994 CBS
Evening News, reporter Giselle Fernandez found Castro's Cuba "a
beacon of success for much of Latin America and the Third World. For
decades, Cuba's health care and education systems were touted as
great achievements of the revolution....Some say the [U.S.] trade
ban has never given Cuba a chance to see whether or not Castro's
socialism might work."
CNN's Lucia Newman even praised
Castro's one-party "elections." On the January 11, 1998 The World
Today, Newman extolled: "No dubious campaign spending here, no
mud slinging....[It's] a system President Castro boasts is the most
democratic and cleanest in the world."
April 8, 2000, during the custody battle over Elian Gonzalez,
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift claimed on The McLaughlin Group:
"To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than
being a poor child in Miami." After immigration agents seized
Elian on April 22, 2000, CBS's Dan Rather assured viewers:
"There is no question that Castro feels a very deep and abiding
connection to those Cubans who are still in Cuba."
|In a May 13, 2002 special, Live
from Havana, CNN's Kate Snow, now with ABC, repeated the
standard talking point about the greatness of communist medicine:
"Everyone has access and the concept of paying is completely
foreign." ABC's Barbara Walters offered her own prime time tribute
five months later. "For Castro, freedom starts with education. And
if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the
freest nations on Earth," Walters oozed on the October 11, 2002
When the Cuban people are finally
free to speak about Castro's decades of dictatorship, how will they
rate the U.S. media's coverage? Did our free press speak truth to
power, or were they instead cheerleaders for Castro's communist
examples of journalists cheering Castro's communism.
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