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Jewish World Review April 28, 2000 / 23 Nissan, 5760

Cal Thomas

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Castro's mouthpiece: The American media --
WHEN THE FOUNDERS decided to offer First Amendment protection to the press, they reasonably expected journalists would serve as a watchdog on government. Today's media have abandoned the watchdog role, becoming a lap dogs to this administration.

Coverage of the Elian Gonzalez affair again demonstrates the personal and ideologically driven agenda of the big media.

From the way reporters referred to the dictator and violator of human rights as "President'' Fidel Castro (did I miss an election that earned him the same title as a president of the United States?), to the blatant editorializing they no longer try to hide, the big media bought the Castro-Clinton-Reno line, while joining them in demonizing the Cuban-Americans who do not enjoy the luxury of having been born into freedom, but had to earn it by risking their lives to escape a totalitarian regime.

Reading Castro's remarks in the official Cuban communist newspaper, Granma Internacional, is like listening to any number of American reporters and anchors who parroted the Castro line. Castro said Elian Gonzalez had no right to request asylum. That's what most American media people and the "experts'' they chose to interview said. Castro called the Miami Cubans "Mafia'' and suggested they had kidnapped Elian. The demonization of the Miami relatives and Little Havana ("drunks,'' "unemployed,'' "violent'' were just some of the smears directed against them) was practiced by Castro and the U.S. media.

All of the networks were bad (except Fox News Channel, on which I sometimes appear, which lived up to its claim of being "fair and balanced''), but the C's in the broadcast and CNN networks could easily stand for Castro.

CBS's Jim Stewart played psychiatrist when he analyzed Attorney General Janet Reno as having "true compassion'' for children and "she truly cares for them.''

Dan Rather, who managed to cry on the air, apparently to hold the female audience who ratings experts say can be manipulated by such behavior, said that "Castro feels a very deep and abiding connection'' to the Cuban people. Maybe that's why he has so many of them in prison and in graves so he will always have them close by.

Rather interrupted a tour of the Gonzalez home by Elian's cousin, Marisleysis, to express concern for "fairness and balance.'' Notice how that when a contrary view is offered, it isn't the balance necessary to offset the propaganda the big media have been serving up. Only their views are fair because only their views are correct. Watch for a "Larry King Live'' on CNN during which the propagandists appear and absolve each other of bias and editorializing.

NBC, which would like to maintain a presence in Havana and therefore, like the others, avoids criticism of Castro's regime, served up Jim Avila. He said that Elian's classmates were "ready to go'' to the United States and that "there's no way of knowing how much choice'' they have. There is if one has studied how much freedom dictators give their people. Oh, but I forgot. Castro isn't a dictator. He's a "president,'' just like ours.

Speaking like a representative of Club Med , Avila described the place where Castro plans to welcome Elian home. Castro, said Avila, "wants to re-create Elian's classroom and surround him with hometown friends'' in a "beachfront mansion.''

Newsweek's Evan Thomas called Reno "principled'' and "apolitical'' and on the TV program "Inside Washington,'' he denigrated the Miami family's "bogus, paranoid fear'' that Elian will be returned to Cuba.

After this mostly one-sided blitz, the networks took polls and learned (surprise!) a majority agree with them. Furthermore, a majority don't even want Congress to conduct hearings on the matter, said an ABC poll. If the Clinton Administration doesn't care about the rule of law, why should the people? Let's have direct democracy by polling. Like the Miami raid, it's easier to take when rights are violated expeditiously.

Most "journalists'' seem to think it's just fine if a Clinton-Gore (as opposed to a Republican) government runs things. That's precisely the way Fidel Castro and his state-controlled media think.

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