FLASHBACK: Barbara Walters Cheered Cuba as ‘One of the Freest Nations on Earth’

October 15th, 2022 12:15 PM

In 2022, we’ve seen journalists simply repeating the talking points for the Democrats in power. This week, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos parroted the White House and actually offered this embarrassing take on inflation: “Inflation is, in some ways, good news for Social Security recipients.”

Yet repeating verbatim the falsehoods and lies of those in power is nothing new for the media. In fact, we have reached the 20th anniversary of one of the most infamous examples. Reporters, who are supposed to speak truth to power, often fail when it comes to charismatic communists. That’s exactly what happened when ABC's Barbara Walters on October 11, 2002.

Reporting live from Fidel Castro's Cuba, she 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 failed miserably.       



The quote, from a 20/20 segment, would win the MRC’s “media hero award” for the Media Research Center’s 2002 Best of Notable Quotables. 

Castro clearly made an impact on the former View host/ABC journalist. In the December 23, 2013 People, she gushed, "I spent 10 days with him, traveled through the mountains and held his gun in my lap...People thought we had a romance, but we never did." 

On the December 12, 2014 View, Walters praised Castro: "Maybe the most charismatic person I have met."

For more journalistic praise of the communist dictator, go here. For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here

[Editor’s note: We are republishing this story in honor of the 20th anniversary of the quote. A version of this article originally appeared on October 12, 2019.]