Monday, October 10, 2005

Fair and Balanced Only When They Want To Be

Jeff Jacoby comments about all the admiring and gushing about Castro and Cuba on CBS's 60 Minutes interview of Elian Gonzales--now 11 years old, and a propaganda tool used by the Castro government:

Come to think of it, why did Brotons [Elian's mother- PS] want so desperately to leave Cuba? Why was she willing to risk her and her son's life on such a dangerous -- in her case, fatal -- attempt to cross the 90 miles that separate Cuba from freedom? Was it was the grinding poverty, the ubiquitous rationing, the constant shortages? Was it the lack of the free speech? The suppression of religion? The inability to criticize the government without risking years behind bars? Was it the informers on every block? The political dossier maintained on every student's ''political attitude and social conduct?" Was it the knowledge that once Elian turned 11, he would be subject to mandatory labor for six to eight weeks every year? Was it the sheer, soul-crushing misery of living in a country routinely ranked as one of the most unfree places in the world?

''60 Minutes" had nothing to say about any of that.

On the other hand, it did show Elian saying -- when prodded by Simon -- that he had no good memories of his stay in Miami, that the relatives who cared for him ''tormented" him by speaking of his mother, and that when he was seized at gunpoint by a federal SWAT team, he ''felt joy that I could get out of that house."

It bears repeating: Elian is only 11, and was just 5 when these events took place. He cannot be blamed for spouting the Communist Party line. But CBS has no such excuse. ''Helped" by ''Castro's personal cameraman," indeed. Edward R. Murrow must be spinning in his grave

Read the entire piece.

You might be tempted to give CBS a pass for this, but remember that they went out of their way on the same show to present the Clinton Camp's opposing views when Louis Freeh was interviewed about his new book that has some rather unkind things to say about Clinton. As Cori Dauber notes, Yet isn't it interesting that they are giving the Clinton camp time to offer at least a brief rebuttal: I don't remember other targets of these hit pieces being given too much in the way of such a courtesy (nor is a statement of that kind likely to be particularly persuasive, as opposed to a well reported piece about Freeh's role. Which it sounds like we will have to continue to wait for.)

Thus Freeh cannot attack Clinton without a rebuttal by Clinton. Yet they seem to have forgotten to interview some of Elian's relatives in Florida about the reasons why his mother tried so desperately to escape Castro's "paradise." Or, their take on the Clinton Administration's heavy-handed "rescue" of Elian in Miami so he could be returned to the wonderful totalitarian state his mother fled.

This is CBS. Unfair. Unbalanced. With the usual left-handed axe to grind.

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