On Sunday night, ABC and NBC had teams assembled in Cuba to shamefully mourn the death of murderous authoritarian leader Fidel Castro with both newscasts turned to fear-mongering in touting claims the President-elect Donald Trump and not current Cuban leader Raul Castro’s communist regime could harm Cuban lives going forward if he goes back on President Barack Obama’s move to resume ties between the two nations.
ABC News correspondent Jim Avila reported from Havana on World News Tonight about the increasing numbers of American tourists in Cuba streets and while the number of airlines that are starting flights there, he expressed concern about what Trump and not the communist regime will do going forward.
“Fidel's death unlikely to cool the warming relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, but the freeze could come from the north if President-elect Donald Trump follows through on that campaign warning,” Avila fretted.
He then held up a Cuban family watching state-run television in their home and telling him that “they say they are on alert because of Trump’s hardline statements.”
Before turning the show back over to weekday anchor David Muir, Avila doubled down on his bubbly views of Castro from early Saturday morning as he concluded that the “grandpa...didn't have much to do with their daily lives” but Trump could:
What’s fascinating, David, is the Death of Fidel Castro — not very much to do with any change that goes forward. He’s viewed here as a grandpa, an old man that didn't have much to do with their daily lives, but Donald Trump, they're watching very closely. They’re on alert, they say, to see what changes he could make and he could do it with a sweep of a pen.
Along with Avila, Muir was also in Havana and while he correctly labeled Castro a dictator and touched on the lack of sufficient incomes and food shortages, he either willfully and unassumingly fell into the trap of promoting the government’s plans to honor Castro going forward.
“We are here to witness the end of an era after the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. He ruled this island nation for a half century, supported violent revolution across the globe and nursed his resistance to the United States to the very end. Here in Havana, a somber mood. This usually lively city, eerily quiet in mourning,” Muir explained at the top of the newscast.
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This theme largely held serve on ABC as only two minutes and 10 seconds were spent on Cuban-Americans celebrating Castro’s death and expressing hope for the future of the country many of them and their families had fled in decades past.
Meanwhile, Muir held to the romantic view of Castro, harping on “Cubans honoring their longtime leader” and once again reminding Americans of the half-century-old cars that line their streets:
Tonight, all across Havana, we notice the flags at half-staff. The Cubans honoring their longtime leader and on the streets of the capital, we the famous vintage cars, but there is something missing here: the music. The Cuban people mourning Fidel Castro, who defied 10 U.S. presidents for half a century. We meet this man named Roy, proud of his '56 Chevy and even more proud of his leader. He tells us he's already been gone for a long time, that the future now depends on our relationships with other countries, including the U.S.
Instead of noting, say, the tens of thousands Castro had arrested and/or murdered, Muir boasted of how he “kept his grip on power here longer than any national leader, other than Queen Elizabeth” and “loved baseball...politics...and he loved power.”
Along with touting Barbara Walters interviewing Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion, Muir hit the U.S. over the embargo but again mentioned the horrid economic state most Cubans find themselves in. Like a clueless journalist providing free P.R. to Cuban government, Muir hyped:
[W]e met two 15-year-olds today, and we asked them, are they looking forward to the possibility of new freedoms here? [MUIR SPEAKING SPANISH TO YOUNG WOMEN] They tell us they are happy the way they are. A mass gathering is expected here in the next 24 hours to honor Fidel Castro. This is what’s called the Plaza of the Revolution and the Cuban people will be allowed to come here and sign a solemn oath saying they still believe in the concept of the revolution. This is where Fidel Castro would famously address the Cuban people for hours. And on the streets here, the American tourists, there are more of them than there has been in decades.
NBC Nightly News sent chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell to Havana after stellar reviews of Castro over the weekend and while she got to the gushing, she spent a brief few seconds meeting with the dissident group Ladies in White who, according to NBC News, did not march on Sunday as they usually do because the government had told them to stay home.
As my colleague Brent Baker chronicled in this tweet, she too was fascinated with the old cars (despite having been to Cuba countless times) and found one driver who told her that it’d “be bad for us” in Cuba under Trump.
“Until Fidel's burial of a week from today, Cuba is having nightclubs that are closed, they are forgoing their national pastime — their passion for baseball as this country assess its legacy of its legendary and controversial founding father,” Mitchell concluded before tossing back to Sunday anchor Kate Snow.