Elian: Bob Simon's Latest Entry in the Useful Idiot File

60 Minutes on Sunday featured correspondent Bob Simon interviewing Elian Gonzalez. In his piece, we learn that Castro's cameraman/propagandist Roberto Chile helped Simon produce the interview.

Bob Simon: "Elian's arrival in Cuba seemed designed for a conquering hero. And here he was without his two front teeth.Simon: "Elian embarked on a two-month tour of Cuba, all recorded by Castro's personal cameraman, Roberto Chile, who helped us on our story, too. Chile was rolling the first time Elian met Fidel.

Simon then goes on to catalog Elian's celebrity in Cuba, listing all the ways he's used as propaganda, but never labeling it as such or asking Elian if he feels he is being used by the Cuban dictator for political purposes:

Simon: "Aside from a festive seventh birthday party at his school, Elian was kept out of the public eye in Cuba until this past April. On the fifth anniversary of the raid in Miami, Elian gave a patriotic speech in front of the cameras and Castro.Simon: "Che Guevara was yesterday, Elian Gonzalez is today, and that's precisely how the regime is playing him. In what's called the "Museum of Ideas" in Cardenas, he is in bronze already, the revolutionary hero preparing to throw Superman, the Cuban symbol of imperialism, onto the rubbish pile of history.

Simon does allow a Cuban-American critic of the 2000 return of Gonzalez to Cuba to offer that this is exactly the sort of propaganda anti-Castro protesters warned would surround Elian's return to Cuba, but that quickly done away with, Simon returns to fawning over Elian's celebrity status in the Communist regime. Simon even pushes Elian to consider a future in Cuban politics, failing of course to note in Cuba that a class presidency election is probably the most democratic balloting subjects of the one-party state can ever expect to participate in:

Simon: "People joke, half joke would be more accurate, that Elian may have a future in Cuban politics. His father is now a member of the National Assembly, and Elian was elected president of his student body last year. Not a bad start.Simon: "Well, you're a very good speaker. You might be a natural politician, huh?"Elian Gonzalez, via translator: "Could be."Simon: "Would you like to be a member of the National Assembly like your dad?"Gonzalez: "Si."Simon: "So you've obviously thought about it, huh?"Gonzalez: "No."
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters