NBC: Obama And Castro ‘Just Two Fans Sharing a Pastime’

In the middle of their special hour-long broadcasts on March 22 that mostly focused on the terror attacks in Belgium, both CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News took time to show President Obama and Cuban dictator Raul Castro doing the “wave” at a baseball game in Havana.

NBC’s coverage was nothing short of gushing. “At the game, Obama and Castro, despite their differences, just two fans sharing a national pastime, almost catching a wave,” NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell reported. She also mentioned that “President Obama said he never thought of not going” to the game.

After covering Obama’s keynote address in Havana where he said that he had “come to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas,” CBS Evening News took a slightly more tempered approach to covering the game. Correspondent Margaret Brennan reported that “after a moment of silence for the victims in Belgium, the mood lightened. The two leaders did the wave and cheered a play at the plate. President Obama told ESPN that changing his schedule would have let the terrorists win.” Brennan also acknowledged that Cuba was a “still authoritarian country.”

CBS then immediately followed this story with coverage of the GOP presidential candidates voicing their criticism of President Obama’s response to the attack. NBC did not cover criticism of Obama at all.

On ABC’s World News Tonight, host David Muir mentioned Obama and Castro attending the baseball game briefly, as part of his introduction for a story on the presidential candidates reacting to the attack (but not the GOP candidates reacting to Obama’s response).

NBC Nightly News

ANDREA MITCHELL: On a day of anxiety and fear in Europe, the president did not change his schedule. Rapping up his Cuba trip by joining Raul Castro as Tampa Bay challenged Cuba's national team. Before the first pitch, a moment of silence for Brussels. 

President Obama said he never thought of not going. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation, but the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people's ordinary lives. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: At the game, Obama and Castro, despite their differences, just two fans sharing a national pastime, almost catching a wave. In the stands, a lineup of big hitters, Dave Winfield, Derek Jeter, plus key players on the national security roster, a starkly different setting this morning at the U.S. Ambassador's residence, a secure call to Belgium's prime minister. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is yet another reminder that the world must unite. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: And this from the first lady. 

FIRST LADY MICHELL OBAMA: We are outraged and heartbroken over the horrific attacks today in Belgium. 

ANDREA MITCHELL: Tonight Raul Castro saw the Obamas off at the airport, the president sticking to his scheduled next stop, a state visit in Argentina. Andrea Mitchell, NBC news, Havana. 

CBS Evening News

MARGARET BRENNAN: After a moment of silence for the victims in Belgium, the mood lightened. The two leaders did the wave and cheered a play at the plate. President Obama told ESPN that changing his schedule would have let the terrorists win. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: What they can do is scare us and make people afraid and disrupt our daily lives and divide us, and as long as we don't allow that to happen, we're going to be okay. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: White house officials believe that terrorism is a persistent threat but one that they can manage. And, Scott, the President feels strongly that it shouldn't dominate the U.S. agenda. 

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a research analyst for the MRC's News Analysis Division