In particular, this paper explores the convergence of two, highly congruous, media in the early Cuban Revolution: television, which quickly assumed a central place in the strategic calculus of the revolutionary government, and Fidel Castro, who mobilized it to innovative political ends. At every major crossroads of the early revolutionary period, Castro reached to TV not only to represent what was happening but, even more critically, to make things happen. At the center of Castro’s media strategy were his late-night TV appearances, in which, prodded by a panel of sometimes hostile interlocutors, he worked to mold popular understandings of events at hand. He thus conscripted television into his efforts to construct the Revolution as a historical fact and an affective and political reality. The key to “government by television,” in the famous words of Herbert Matthews, was the art—and drama—of persuasion.
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