Monday, August 27, 2007

Castro defies death rumours, nixes Perez Hilton's bug-eyed cyber-scoop

Miami heat was generated all weekend as rumors about Fidel Castro's demise whipped around. And on the Blogosphere, there was a giddy salsa dance of self-congratulation; the anti-Commie scoop of the century was being broken not by any of the sober Mainstream Media outlets, but by that queen of snark, self-appointed Hollywood 'nemesis' Perez Hilton. This unhinged Cuban-American had breathlessly blogged on Friday that, according to his exclusive inside sources, Florida police were preparing an afternoon press conference to announce Castro's death at age 81. A round of Cuba Libres and Mojitos for Calle Ocho por favor!! Caramba. As part of his "Celebrity Juice", Perez posted a photo of Fidel with "Dead" scrawled across his forehead and a podcast of a hot Gloria Estefan tune as a backbeat for gusano gloating about the passing of the "oppressive ogre."

Problem was, Castro just was not cooperating. No confirmation. Friday passed, so did Saturday and Sunday. So Perez's report of this death was, er, greatly exaggerated. It's no secret that South Florida has been panting to hear news of the ultimate "biological solution" to the Cuba conundrum for decades. And for the past year, ever since brother Raul has been appointed the figurehead in La Havana, there's been a deathwatch out on the "Bearded ONe."
When it happens-- and it will, since Fidel Castro is not a cyborg and must eventually pass away-- journos are likely to hear the news first on radio. (Or, as an SMS text on their Blackberries following reports of a sudden respectful silence of radio and television inside Cuba proper.) Hugo Chavez , Venezuela's head honcho, or the Nobel laureate Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez will be among the first to know.

Trusted Cuba-watchers such as Anita Snow of Associated Press, Dudley Althaus of the Houston Chronicle, Dolly Mascarenhas and Tim Padgett of Time Magazine, or Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker will be the ones to break this historic news. Sorry Perez, best stick to the fluff. Babalulu of a premature file. It raises a yellow light about the dubious fact-checking prowess of a rumor blog which is so self-reverential it believes its own hype.

Supposedly, as a kind of rebuttal to the rumor mill, the ailing Castro has just published a signed article. But no photos or video footage of him has surfaced since June. El Barbudo is vain about his appearance, they say.

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