"Fidel Castro Resigns." That’s a fantastic headline, and should be cause for celebration.
But just because the doddering dictator is stepping aside doesn’t mean that Cuba’s abandoning tyranny. And just because he’s leaving doesn’t mean the media are dropping their fictions about Castro, the Cuban "president." Glancing at a TV set, I caught this CNN screen graphic: "Fidel Castro Resigns: Cuban Pres. Rejects New Term." Where on Earth is the media’s regard for accuracy?
A "new term"? This murderous despot has only had one long, abusive term, and it’s lasted 49 years. Anyone who says otherwise, that the Cuban "parliament" would be setting another "election," is not just a useful idiot. He’s simply an idiot.
AP reporter Anita Snow suggested using the word "dictator" to describe Castro is tantamount to mudslinging. While "Castro’s supporters admired his ability to provide a high level of health care and education for citizens," his "detractors called him a dictator." The American media was absolutely allergic to words like "dictator." Rudy Giuliani can be routinely attacked by liberal reporters as "despotic," "authoritarian" and "totalitarian," but Fidel Castro is just a "president" or a "Cuban leader."
For decades, this has been an easy display of the media’s foreign affections. Every right-wing dictator, like Chile’s Pinochet, is a "dictator," while every left-wing dictator is merely a "leader" or, in Castro’s case, a "dashing revolutionary" and a "rock star." That was ABC’s Diane Sawyer on the morning of Castro’s abdication announcement.
It was nauseating to watch ABC’s Robin Roberts assert that so-called "Cuban President" Castro was stepping down, and then see reporter Jeffrey Kofman suggest that the "so-called" sneer should be leveled against his opponents! "The fervently anti-Castro community of so-called Cuban exiles here in Miami erupted in celebration" when Castro grew ill in 2006.
Cubans living in Miami are "so-called exiles"? They traveled on "so-called" boats, risking "so-called" death at the hands of a regime that promised to "so-called" kill them if they were caught escaping, too.
Kofman added insult to injury by dragging out the ancient trope that Castro outlasted our pathetic presidents and their bungling attempts to damage him: "The world’s longest-serving political leader is leaving on his own terms, having survived efforts by 10 different U.S. presidents to bring him down, including a disastrous CIA-backed invasion in 1961 and a missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962." Everything wrong with Cuba-U.S. relations is the fault of American presidents.
How, to a media that would claim to favor democracy as a political ideal, is it a virtue to "outlast" freely elected presidents who have submitted their office to the people by killing or imprisoning all your political opponents?
Throughout Castro’s long history of dominating Cuba, he has also dominated the American media, who have covered him with a sickening parade of ardor and accolades, even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Consider these morally bankrupt valentines:
1. Barbara Walters on ABC in 2002: "For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth."
2. Dan Rather on CBS feeling all warm after Elian Gonzalez was ripped away from those "so-called Cuban exiles" in 2000: "There is no question that Castro feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in Cuba."
3. Katie Couric applauding communist achievements on NBC in 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."
4. Peter Jennings on ABC in 1989: "Castro has delivered the most to those who had the least, and for much of the Third World, Cuba is actually a model of development."
5. Even sportscasters darkened their reputations. In a 1991 special covering the Pan Am Games, ABC’s Jim McKay could have been speaking for the media in 2008: "You have brought a new system of government, obviously, to Cuba, but the Cuban people do think of you, I think, as their father. One day, you’re going to retire. Or, one day, all of us die.
Won’t there be a great vacuum there? Won’t there be something that will be difficult to fill? Can they do it on their own?"
Castro has announced his retirement. I’m happy he’ll be gone, and hope he’ll spend his final days on Earth contemplating his eternity in hell.