And I'm sure she wasn't the only one.
In the USSR, Communist Cuba and other Socialist dictatorships, reporters frequently crossed the line from journalism to advocacy and then to personal involvement. The KGB had its honey traps, but usually didn't need them. The media was happy to push their narratives. Just as it's happy to push Iranian, Qatari and Hamas narratives today.
But Politico's take on this story would be very different if a Republican journalist had been carrying on an affair with, say, Pinochet. But Castro, who had indisputably killed and repressed more people than any right-wing Latin American dictator, is still an objection of affection at Politico. And for ABC News' Lisa Howard for making a mockery of its own profession's credibility.
The media has spent two years trying to bring down the President of the United States over claims of "collusion". But aside from Howard whoring herself out to a Communist dictator, there's the actual collusion with an enemy of the United States that had actively sought its destruction.
In the early morning hours, Howard asked Vallejo to leave. Finally alone with her, Castro slipped his arms around the American journalist, and the two lay on the bed, where, as Howard recalled in her diary, Castro “kissed and caressed me … expertly with restrained passion.”
“He talked on about wanting to have me,” Howard wrote, but “would not undress or go all the way.” “We like each other very much,” Castro told her, admitting he was having trouble finding the words to express his reluctance. “You have done much for us, you have written a lot, spoken a lot about us. But if we go to bed then it will be complicated and our relationship will be destroyed.”
He told her he would see her again—“and that it would come naturally.”
Next up, the tender romantic diaries of Eva Braun. "De Fuhrer always brote me de flours."
. In return, the journalist left Castro what she described as “a little keepsake”—a deeply personal letter she drafted in her room at the Riviera. “I wanted to give you something to express my gratitude for the time you granted me; for the interview; for the beautiful flowers,” her message began. “I have decided to give you the most valuable possession I have to offer. Namely: my faith in your honor. My faith in the form of a letter, which, if revealed, could destroy me in the United States.”
Just with Americans. Not with her fellow comrades in the media who would only admire her more.
Howard described her four-page letter, the drafts of which she saved along with other records from her trip, as “a tribute, a poem to you—the man.” It mixed intense criticism with sincere praise. “I do not want you destroyed. … You possess what George Bernard Shaw called ‘that spark of divine fire,’” Howard wrote. “You are not the ruthless, cynical tyrant [your critics] have depicted. … I do not believe you have meant to hurt people, though, in all candor, I am both saddened and outraged that you have destroyed thousands and harmed many more without just cause.”
If only Fidel had known...
Howard wasn't the first lefty to be seduced by Castro. And who then wrote love letters to him. Just ask Steven Spielberg.
“I feel deeply that you must be permitted to play out your role,” Howard continued, pledging to do what she could to ensure Castro’s survival and bring the U.S. and Cuba together. “I am going to talk to certain people when I return to the States,” she wrote. “I do not overestimate my influence. But I shall try to help.”
One draft of her message, typed on Hotel Riviera letterhead, ended “on a personal note.” “We met and came together and, I know, felt something for one another that could not go further. I am who I am and you are Fidel Castro and for us, at this moment in history, nothing personal could be realized. No matter … our personal desires are not important.”
Howard crossed out that paragraph during a revision, big blue Xs cutting through the type. “Perhaps we shall never see one another again,” the letter concluded instead. “But I shall treasure with all my heart for as long as I live my trip to Cuba in April of 1963 and my meetings with you, my dearest Fidel.”
Howard's compulsive self-dramatization is pathetic and contemptible. She saw herself as a character in a novel she was writing. Castro saw her as another useful idiot.
When “Fidel Castro: Self Portrait” aired on ABC on May 10, 1963, it dominated the news cycle. “Castro applauds U.S. ‘Peace Steps,’” declared the New York Times. “Castro Would Like Talk With Kennedy,” announced the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “The interview was a great success, front page of nearly every paper in the country,” Howard wrote in a private note for Castro. “The entire interview is now being discussed on the highest levels.”
Howard also typed out a 10-page brief to Kennedy himself, elaborating on what Castro had told her during their conversations in Havana and attempting to obtain a meeting. “I wanted to see you personally,” she wrote, “to impress upon you how strongly I feel that Fidel’s alliance with the Communists is a precarious one … [and] that we might profitably fish in those troubled waters.” Castro was “now ready to discuss everything: the withdrawal of [Soviet] troops; an end to the exporting of his revolution” to end the blockade and resume diplomatic relations with the United States, she reported. “And not just ready, Sir, but positively eager.”
And she hadn't even registered as a foreign agent.
Howard and her entourage arrived at José Martí International Airport on February 1, 1964. Castro had sent Vallejo to meet her, and “I was taken through customs like a diplomat,” she recalled
“They mob him, they scream ‘Fidel, Fidel,’ children kiss him, mothers touch him,” she wrote. “They are awed, thrilled … ecstatic, but mostly passionate. There is no doubt in my mind that the emotion Fidel inspires in all women is sheer undiluted sexual desire. He is the most physical animal man I have ever known.” The attraction between them was undeniable. “I sat and stood beside him for five hours and I nearly went out of my mind,” she recounted.
John Kerry knows exactly how she felt.
When Howard announced she wanted to “get into something comfortable,” he made a futile attempt to keep her fully clothed. “He made a great fuss about my not changing my dress because it was so pretty and he wanted to look at it,” she wrote. And when she emerged from the bathroom in a nightgown and pajamas, he chastised her for disobeying him. “You don’t understand me,” he complained in a flourish of machismo. “You just want to do what you want to do. Why can’t you treat me like a man?”
The only thing more pathetic than a media whore with a crush on a murderous Marxist dictator is... the dictator asking her to keep her clothes on.
Deeply frustrated, in December 1964, Howard seized on the visit of Che Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary who had helped usher in the Cuban revolution, to the United Nations to renew her attempts to bridge the Cold War gap across the Florida straits. She shepherded Guevara around town—together they attended a premiere of a new documentary film commemorating the life of Kennedy—and organized a soiree for him at her New York apartment. “Che Guevara has something to say” to the White House, she told Chase on the phone, in hopes of once again using cocktail diplomacy as a cover for the two sides to confer.
I'm guessing Che turned her down too.
By the time of the Democratic National Convention in late August, Howard had initiated Democrats for Keating and was lobbying party leaders not to support RFK’s Senate bid.
Collusion within the Democrat party.
On July 4, 1965, while spending the holiday weekend in the Hamptons, Howard altered a prescription for 10 barbiturates and obtained a bottle of 100 tablets at a local pharmacy; she consumed the pills in the parking lot and died of the overdose. She was 39 years old.
It was a kinder death than most of Castro and Che's victims suffered.
“She showed us by her extraordinary sacrifice what moral strength means,” Senator William Proxmire said in his eulogy at Howard’s memorial service, without even knowing the extraordinary role she had played behind the scenes.
This is what real treason and collusion look like. And it's still going on today.