Right-wing media continue to repeat false claim that Castro endorsed Clinton and Obama

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

CNN's Glenn Beck and Fox News' Dagen McDowell repeated the false claim that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro had given an "endorsement" to Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in a Cuban newspaper column. But nowhere in his column did Castro endorse Clinton or Obama; to the contrary, he attributed to Clinton and Obama a pro-democratic view that he called an "error," and he said of Clinton and Obama, "They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon."

On the August 29 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck falsely claimed that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro had given an "endorsement" to Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in an August 28 column in the Cuban newspaper Granma. Beck's guest, radio talk show host and Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick*, echoed Beck's assertion, claiming that Castro "thinks" Clinton or Obama "would be a good president." Similarly, on the August 29 edition of Fox News' Your World, guest host Dagen McDowell falsely claimed that Obama and Clinton "rack[ed] up another endorsement today, this one coming straight from Cuba's Fidel Castro." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, at no point in his column did Castro endorse Clinton or Obama; to the contrary, he attributed to Clinton and Obama a pro-democratic view that he called an "error," and he said of Clinton and Obama, "They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon."

Further, on Beck's program, Patrick falsely claimed that Obama advocated "attacking" Pakistan and, without offering any evidence, asserted that "terrorists" supported the Democrats in the 2004 election.

Beck asserted that Castro's editorial was "probably not the endorsement that either candidate was looking for" and asked: "Do you remember a time when an endorsement from Castro would have killed a campaign faster than the good old-fashioned Dean scream?" Patrick then asserted that Castro's article marks "the best day that ... the Republicans running for president have had in a long time," later adding that "I don't think the Cuban population in Miami is really going to go out and actively work for someone that Fidel Castro thinks would be a good president."

On Your World, McDowell, who also serves as a Fox News business correspondent, asked if "support from the dictator [will] hurt donations" to the Obama and Clinton campaigns. Republican strategist Margaret Hoover said "it helps Republicans" and that "the best thing for a Republican is for Hillary and Obama to go ahead and embrace this endorsement."

Yet, in his Granma column, Castro described a potential Clinton-Obama presidential ticket as "seemingly invincible," but he did not endorse either candidate. From Castro's column:

Today, talk is about the seemingly invincible ticket that might be created with Hillary for President and Obama for Vice President. Both of them feel the sacred duty of demanding "a democratic government in Cuba". They are not making politics: they are playing a game of cards on a Sunday afternoon.

The media declares that this would be essential, unless Gore decides to run. I don't think he will do so; better than anyone, he knows about the kind of catastrophe that awaits humanity if it continues along its current course. When he was a candidate, he of course committed the error of yearning for "a democratic Cuba".

Enough of tales and nostalgia. This is written simply to increase the conscience of the Cuban people.

As Media Matters noted Fox News previously reported the false claim that Castro had endorsed Clinton and Obama. During an August 29 Fox & Friends segment discussing Castro's column, on-screen text falsely asserted, "CASTRO'S DREAM TEAM: WANTS CLINTON AND OBAMA IN '08" and an on-screen graphic depicted Castro, Clinton, and Obama enclosed in a red heart. And during the August 28 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Michelle Malkin previewed an upcoming segment by falsely claiming that "Fidel Castro, of all people, endorses a Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama presidential ticket."

Additionally, Patrick claimed that Obama "really hurt himself with his naiveté on international affairs," adding that Obama suggested "attacking Pakistan whether they want us there or not." In fact, in his August 1 foreign policy speech, Obama did not say he would "attack[]" Pakistan. Rather, Obama said: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistan] President [Pervez] Musharraf won't act, we will." Obama has since pointed out that he "never called for an invasion of Pakistan."

Patrick also asserted that Castro's purported "endorsement" of Obama and Clinton "is like when the terrorists kind of came out, you know, before the Bush election in support of the Democrats." Patrick may have been referring to a taped message released by Osama bin Laden in October 2004, which many conservative media figures cited as evidence that bin Laden preferred then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. But as Media Matters for America noted, according to investigative reporter Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon & Schuster, 2006), the CIA determined that bin Laden's message was intended to assist in the re-election of President Bush.

From the August 29 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck:

BECK: Coming up, Fidel Castro declares Clinton-Obama the winning ticket for the 2008 election. Do you remember -- do you remember the time when an endorsement from a ruthless dictator was a bad thing? Oh, those were the days.

[...]

BECK: Now, I'm guessing it's probably not the endorsement that either candidate was looking for, but it seems Cuban dictator Fidel Castro cannot deny the, quote, "seemingly invincible ticket of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in 2008."

I don't know. Maybe it's just me. Do you remember a time when an endorsement from Castro would have killed a campaign faster than the good old-fashioned Dean scream? Oh, those really were the days.

Dan Patrick, Texas state senator, now talk show host for KSEV-FM in Houston. Dan -- an endorsement from Castro.

PATRICK: You know, Glenn, this is -- this reminds me of what the military is saying. Supposedly, Chelsea Clinton was in Afghanistan and asked one of the soldiers what are the three things that concerned them most, and the soldier said, "Osama, Obama, and yo mama." So, I have a sense that --

BECK: See, I don't -- I don't believe that. I think that was just a joke.

PATRICK: Yeah, I don't think that really happened, but it could've happened.

BECK: Right. It could have, sure.

PATRICK: It could've happened.

BECK: It didn't.

PATRICK: Yeah, and this is the best day that Rudy and Fred, if he gets in the race, and Mitt and the rest of the Republicans running for president have had in a long time, because, seriously, Glenn, in -- you know, in the nation, Cubans only represent less than a percent of the population. But in Florida, the state of hanging chads -- and a state that, with Ohio or West Virginia, could determine the next election -- they're about 5 percent of the electorate.

And I don't think the Cuban population, in Miami, is really going to go out and actively work for someone that Fidel Castro thinks would be a good president.

BECK: So, let me ask you this, Dan, because I -- you know, I agree with you on Florida, but what has happened to us where we don't call China "Red China" anymore? Or that we don't -- that communism is such a joke and socialism is so acceptable now? Just whatever. What happened to us?

PATRICK: Well, I don't know who "we" is, because I don't think that applies to you. It doesn't apply to me. I don't think it applies to most Americans. I think that this is like when the terrorists kind of came out, you know, before the Bush election in support of the Democrats. It may have given Bush a few points.

I mean, this is -- I don't think it's a joke. I think that it underscores what our enemies -- and Fidel Castro is an enemy -- I think this underscores who they would like to see in the White House. And they don't want to see a conservative in the White House or a Republican.

And I still think most Americans think that red is still red and communism is not good. And I think you're right. I don't think either one likes this endorsement.

What I really think this sets up, though, Glenn, is I go around the state of Texas and talk to people around the country, there is this thinking that this is the ticket -- and I'm not so sure. I think Barack Obama has really hurt himself --

BECK: Yeah.

PATRICK: -- with his naiveté on international affairs. You know, attacking Pakistan whether they want us in there or not, not using nuclear weapons, sitting down, you know, to have tea with our enemy.

And does America really want a VP a heartbeat away from the president that is that naive?

And so Hillary has a problem. If she doesn't put him on the ticket, she alienates the African-American voters in America. If she does put him on the ticket, it will make some people sit back and think, is this going too far?

I mean, it's one thing making fun of Dan Quayle because he couldn't spell potato. He was really qualified, and he was ridiculed by the media. It's another thing to have what appears to be someone who is totally naive about how to deal with terror as vice president of the United States.

BECK: Dan, I appreciate it. Thank you very much for your time, sir.

PATRICK: Thanks, Glenn.

BECK: I will say -- just one more thing, America. He also said that Jimmy Carter was the best president we ever had. And Hillary and Obama are really not his first choice. Al Gore would be his first choice.

From the August 29 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

McDOWELL: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama racking up another endorsement today, this one coming straight from Cuba's Fidel Castro. Will support from the dictator hurt donations to their campaigns? Republican strategist Margaret Hoover says yes but Democratic strategist Bob Beckel disagrees. Well, Margaret, to you first: help or hurt?

HOOVER: I think it helps Republicans that she's doing this because the best way to get every Cuban American in Miami to send $20 to the Republican nominee is to shore up Fidel Castro's support. They want nothing more than to distance themselves from him. So, the best thing that -- the best thing for a Republican is for Hillary and Obama to go ahead and embrace this endorsement.

*CORRECTION: This item previously referred incorrectly to "former Texas state Sen. Dan Patrick." In fact, Patrick is currently a member of the Texas Senate. Media Matters regrets the error.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, The Washington Times, CNN Headline News
Person
Glenn Beck
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.