In a newsjacking fail, ESPN draws fire for Fidel Castro tribute

The network broadcast a retrospective of Cuba’s sports renaissance during the dictator’s reign, eliciting harsh criticism from viewers and the news media.

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Enter ESPN’s response to the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Forbes contributor Alex Reimer wrote:

Fidel Castro was a tyrant whose oppressive regime killed thousands of Cubans and forced millions more to leave the small island nation during a refugee crisis that’s lasted more than a half-century. But in ESPN’s tone-deaf remembrance piece, Castro’s atrocities are glossed over. Instead, the WorldWide Leader focuses its efforts on glorifying the dictator’s love of sport.

ESPN’s piece—titled, “Fidel Castro, 90, fused sports into Cuba’s national identity“—provides PR pros with an idea of what overreaching to jump on a trending topic looks like. The article reads, in part:

Soon after coming to power, Castro recognized the potential benefits of national excellence in athletics and Cuba eventually became one of the strongest sporting nations in the world — despite a population only slightly greater than New York City’s.

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