Journalists, the self-described writers of the first draft of history, often have a very tough time remembering it. I've lost count how many times I've heard the phrase "most ever," "biggest in history," "worst X ever" and so on.
The BBC provided the latest example of this historical short-sightedness in a not-exactly condemnatory (the Beeb never once calls him a dictator) profile of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which as the WSJ's James Taranto noted yesterday, contained a major error:
Last Monday the BBC published a puff piece on Cuba's dictator titled "Fidel: The World Icon." Here's how it starts:
Cuba's President Fidel Castro--the world's longest-serving leader--turns 80 on 13 August. This week, we will be assessing his political life and his impact on the Caribbean island.
The world's longest-serving leader? Castro seized power in January 1959, which certainly puts him at the top of the list. But we can think of one head of state who's been in office since 1952, and it's one the BBC should have heard of: Queen Elizabeth II.
Also at the Journal today, former CBSer Bernie Goldberg has an excellent piece up about how Iran's president has mastered the game of television, making him more dangerous than Khomeini.