The network newscasts are admirably exposing the horrors and war crimes perpetrated by ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin against Ukraine. But we should never forget their long history of fawning over many communist thug dictators. It was 33 years ago this week that World News Tonight gushed over the brutal Fidel Castro for “delivering the most to those who had the least.”
Then-anchor Peter Jennings portrayed the nation where dissidents were jailed or killed as a paradise with a high literary rate. Here’s Jennings on April 3, 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. Education was once available to the rich and the well-connected. It is now free to all. On January the 1st, 1959, when the Cuban dictator Batiste left the country for good, only a third of the population could read and write. Today, the literacy rate is 97 percent. Medical care was once for the privileged few. Today, it is available to every Cuban and it is free. Some of Cuba’s health care is world class, in heart disease, in brain surgery, for example. Health and education are the revolution’s great success stories.
— Peter Jennings reporting from Havana on ABC’s World News Tonight, April 3, 1989.
ABC journalists sure sounded like PR tools for the communist Castro. On October 11, 2002, Barbara Walters gushed, “For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent.” Of course, if one were to use freedom as the yardstick for freedom, Castro’s brutal legacy would fail miserably.
Castro finally died, on November 25, 2016. On the December 4, 2016 NBC Nightly News Morgan Radford appeared caught up in the drama of the funeral, recounting, “Tears of sorrow and cries of patriotism. Thousands lined the streets to greet the caravan of Fidel Castro's ashes.” She touted, “His remains arriving in the city where his revolution was born.”
For a March 14, 2022 MRC study, I wrote about how, while the media rightly and consistently highlights the brutality of Putin now, they loved the “mighty” Soviet Union back then. For more, see the study here.
For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.