NBC’s Nightly News on Sunday offered gushing coverage of Fidel Castro’s funeral, mourning the “tears of sorrow and cries of patriotism.” Reporter Morgan Radford referred to Castro as a man with a “complicated legacy.” Yet, she never explained what that meant or noted the dictator’s decades of oppression and violence.
Instead, Radford got 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.”
Radford talked to one woman who cried, “I feel sad because I feel like I lose my father.” Another woman cheered, “His ideas will always be with us.” The reporter closed by summarizing, “A final farewell to a leader with a complicated legacy.” What was that legacy, exactly? She didn't say.
In contrast, the CBS Weekend News on Sunday showed that it’s possible to recount the details of the funeral and also explain to viewers how brutal Castro was. Reporter Elaine Quijano located “many Cuban Americans who believe Castro's revolution was solely about monopolizing power, imprisoning opponents, taking away freedoms and forcing others into exile in the nearly five decades he ruled.”
ABC’s World News Tonight on Sunday provided only the briefest coverage. The show allowed just 29 seconds. Anchor Cecilia Vega used similar language to Radford on the funeral itself: “The ashes of Fidel Castro were laid to rest today in the same city where his revolution began more than 60 years ago.”
However, unlike the NBC journalist, Vega at least hinted at the repressive nature of the regime: “The government barring independent coverage of that funeral.”
Just like the Associated Press, all three networks ignored the fact that the Jeep carrying Castro’s ashes broke down, forcing it to be pushed. Instead, the AP called the event a “near-religious farewell.”
None of the morning shows on Monday covered the Castro funeral.
The New York Times headline on Monday for the funeral gushed: “Cuba Puts Fidel Castro to Rest: ‘A Man So Large in a Box So Small.’”
To read how journalists fawned over Castro through the decades, see a Media Research Center study.
A transcript of the NBC Nightly News segment is below:
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NBC Nightly News
NBC Graphic: End of an Era
KATE SNOW: Nine days after his death, Cubans say their final good-byes to Fidel Castro today. NBC’s Morgan Radford reports on Castro’s funeral and the end of an era.
MORGAN RADFORD: Tears of sorrow and cries of patriotism. Thousands lined the streets to greet the caravan of Fidel Castro’s ashes. People are standing here. They are carrying signs that show his picture and they are chanting “Yo Soy Fidel.” It means “I am Fidel.” His remains arriving in the city where his revolution was born.
WOMAN #1: His ideas will always be with us.
WOMAN #2: I feel sad because I feel like I lose my father.
RADFORD: From those who lived during his half century in power to those so young they can barely speak his name.
BOY: Fidel hasta siempre.
RADFORD: A final farewell to a leader with a complicated legacy. Morgan Radford. NBC News.