Saturday's Fox News Watch devoted a few minutes to the controversy, which was documented previously by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, over NBC's Matt Lauer claiming during an interview for the Today show that "some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life, something around 80 percent," but that in America, "only about 25 percent." Liberal panelist Patricia Murphy of Citizen Jane stated her belief that Lauer simply made an "error" in misstating a Pew Research poll which found that, when asked if they were "satisfied with the direction of the country," 86 percent of Chinese respondents said yes, but when asked about "personal satisfaction," that "the number was much, much lower."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton theorized NBC was being soft on China because the network is making money off the Olympics: "Could it be because NBC paid China a billion dollars to cover the Olympics? And they can't afford to have their reporters and sportscasters kicked out for telling the truth about China. So they have no choice but to cover up." (Transcript follows)
A summary of the Pew survey referred to by Murphy, which can be found here, observes: "The new Pew Global Attitudes survey also finds that most Chinese citizens polled rate many aspects of their own lives favorably, including their family life, their incomes and their jobs. However, levels of personal satisfaction are generally lower than the national measures, and by global standards Chinese contentment with family, income and jobs is not especially high."
Below is a complete transcript of the discussion from the Saturday, August 9, Fox News Watch on FNC:
MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW CO-HOST: There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life, something around 80 percent. You compare that to polls in the United States that say only about 25 percent of Americans are. What's the root of their happiness here?
JON SCOTT: Well, since that interview aired on NBC, Matt Lauer and NBC have been criticized for that precise question. Cal, as we were playing it, you're shaking your head there. Is he a booster for-?
CAL THOMAS, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Hey, the only answer is that we all become Communist, then we'll all be happy. I mean, he didn't say who did this poll. This reminds me of some of these alleged polls and surveys done at the beginning of the civil rights movement. Some of these white Southern racists say, "Well, what do you mean? Black people down here are perfectly happy just the way they are." This is total garbage.
SCOTT: Yeah. They don't have Internet access, their air is foul, and most of them ride bicycles, but it's pretty good to be in China, I guess.
PATRICIA MURPHY, CITIZEN JANE: I think the problem here, Matt Lauer made an error. This was a Pew poll. The question was: Are you satisfied with the direction of the country? And 86 percent of Chinese said yes. There were 3,000 Chinese interviewed in person by Pew staff. Now, the real question they also asked Chinese citizens: Are you personally satisfied? Do you have personal satisfaction? The number was much, much lower. So I think that Matt Lauer just made an error in there. I hope it was just that.
JIM PINKERTON, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: So why did he make that error, I wonder? Could it be because NBC paid China a billion dollars to cover the Olympics? And they can't afford to have their reporters and sportscasters kicked out for telling the truth about China. So they have no choice but to cover up.
SCOTT: Jane, do they have a vested interest in trying to make China or the Olympics look good?
JANE HALL, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think they've got a real problem on their hands if, you know, if they're going to try to cover the reeducation camps, the dissidents who have been packed away so that nobody can see them. I mean, China is a mixed picture. I mean, there is progress there. But I don't know how you can cover the Olympics and not cover anything else. But I don't see NBC not covering sports 24/7.