Counting the Reasons to Defund

The 20 Most Memorable Leftist Excesses of Public Broadcasting

'Ecstasy' for Castro

16. PBS airs a fawning Fidel Castro documentary hosted by Saul Landau, who feels “a mild ecstasy” when Castro touches him (1990). 

     Nobody Listened, an anti-Castro film by Oscar-winning cinematographer Nestor Almendros, was rejected by PBS for two years. Marc Weiss, producer of P.O.V., a series dedicated to films with a point of view, rejected the film twice for “presenting point of view as fact.” Frontline was no better. According to Washington Times TV critic Don Kowet, one producer told Almendros that “Frontline does not co-produce anti-communist programs.”

     PBS finally allowed Nobody Listened on the air on August 8, 1990 – when Minneapolis PBS station KTCA “balanced” it with The Uncompromising Revolution, a bald-faced Castro propaganda film by Saul Landau of the radical Institute for Policy Studies. Landau made no bones about the source of his inspiration: “There is no doubt who is directing this revolution, or this film.” Instead of journalism, he uncorked infatuated lines like this: “Fidel touched his young machine adjuster, and the man enjoyed a mild ecstasy. I know the feeling. He has inspired the majority with his charisma to believe, that despite the abundance of everyday problems, they can and must achieve monumental leaps in development and play a key role in the world, as well.” He touted how Castro wanted to build a society “modeled on the ideals of the legendary Che Guevara....Fidel appeals to the masses to be like Che, but Che Guevara was a revolutionary saint. Most Cubans cannot aspire to such status.”

    Even as the Soviet empire crumbled and Castro refused to budge, Landau insisted: “It is not easy to disagree with Fidel. He has defined revolutionary democracy as mass participation. It has also meant following him through action-packed decades of experiments in collective survival and socialist living. A veritable force of nature, Fidel has guided the revolution, destroying the old and building the new Cuba. His power has blown through the island with hurricane force.”

     The PBS host, moonlighting NPR anchor Scott Simon, introduced the film by insisting, “If you make the trip from Mexico, you might notice first the well-fed, well-cared-for children, and the absence of beggars and shanty towns in contrast to so much of the rest of Latin America.”