Geraldo's Ode to Castro the 'Charismatic Commie'

Fidel Castro is a brutal dictator but you wouldn't know it from listening to many of the current reports about his health. Time and time again members of the U.S. media fall over themselves in describing Castro in poetic terms. On last night's Geraldo At Large, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera went over board in his final commentary about Castro's legacy with such flowery descriptions of the man as: "the iron man of revolutionary rhetoric," "romantic revolutionary," and "charismatic commie."

Oh to be sure Rivera acknowledged "to some" he's "a ruthless and absolute dictator," but when he counters that he is also "Loved and admired by many," Rivera engaged in that game of moral equivalency so often played by liberal reporters where, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

Rivera noted many in Miami don't like the dictator because he took their property but that explanation almost diminishes Castro's critics as it ignores the fact that many of those Cuban exiles lost not just their homes but many family members and friends as well. In fact Rivera's piece left viewers with the impression it was only a petty few in Little Havana that had a problem with Castro but that within Cuba and around the world he was a beloved figure. Rivera professed: "He is loved and admired by many Latin Americans, especially among the poor," and "the announcement of his frail and possibly failing health was grim news on the streets of Havana where many prayed for his recovery."

Rivera even went back into his video vault to unearth a 1977 interview he had with Castro complete with video of a younger, awe-struck, grinning Rivera in front of the Cuban dictator. Rivera reminisced: "He is a towering historic figure and meeting and interviewing him was one of the most memorable experiences of a young reporter's life."

Rivera opened the piece portraying Castro in heroically defiant terms: "The man whose iron rule launched a million boatloads of refugees bound to the United States has survived numerous assassination attempts, an American sponsored invasion and has so far outlasted nine American presidents." Rivera later returned to that imagery at the conclusion of his piece: "The promise of improved U.S./Cuban relations was of course never realized and during Castro's life probably never will be but after Castro fainted during a 2001 speech and later fell and shattered an arm and kneecap in 2004 people on both sides of the Fidel divide started thinking about life after the charismatic commie who successfully defied the world's greatest power for almost half a century. Love him or hate him there is no denying that Fidel Castro has had a great run."

The following is a complete transcript of the segment:

Geraldo Rivera: "The announcement that Cuba's Fidel Castro has undergone major surgery and in the meantime turned power over to his younger brother, 75-year-old Raul Castro is sending shockwaves across this planet. The man whose iron rule launched a million boatloads of refugees bound to the United States has survived numerous assassination attempts, an American sponsored invasion and has so far outlasted nine American presidents. But the iron man of revolutionary rhetoric underwent intestinal surgery just two weeks shy of his 80th birthday. And the announcement of his frail and possibly failing health was grim news on the streets of Havana where many prayed for his recovery. But the news had people dancing in the streets of Little Havana in the heart of the exile community in Miami, Florida where many including Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart predicted the imminent collapse of the regime."

[Mario Diaz-Balart: "As soon as that corpse is just lukewarm you're gonna see things changing rather dramatically."]

Rivera: "Castro is both feared and loathed by the families like the Diaz-Balarts whose property he confiscated when he took control of Cuba in 1959. Yet he is loved and admired by many Latin Americans, especially among the poor. To some Fidel Castro is a romantic revolutionary to others he's a ruthless and absolute dictator but regardless of your opinion of the man there is no doubt but that he is a towering historic figure and meeting and interviewing him was one of the most memorable experiences of a young reporter's life. On this 1977 visit to mark the opening of an Ernest Hemingway museum, at the house the great writer once owned, I asked if Papa's legacy could help bridge the enormous gap between our countries."

[Fidel Castro, through translator: "Well as a precedent, yes, as an example also because we appreciate the fact that he selected Cuba to leave, to spend part of his life and he's undoubtedly, his unquestionable love for Cuba is really an honor for us."]

Rivera: "The promise of improved U.S./Cuban relations was of course never realized and during Castro's life probably never will be but after Castro fainted during a 2001 speech and later fell and shattered an arm and kneecap in 2004 people on both sides of the Fidel divide started thinking about life after the charismatic commie who successfully defied the world's greatest power for almost half a century. Love him or hate him there is no denying that Fidel Castro has had a great run."

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.