The Media's Communist China Problem

Listen to the Article!

It is a remarkable thing to read.

Hop into the wayback machine and park it in front of this article that appeared as part of a China series in The New York Times Magazine on November 18, 2018. The author is Philip P. Pan, he the Asia editor of The New York Times.

The title of the piece?

China Rules: They didn’t like the West’s playbook. So they wrote their own.

The Land That Failed to Fail

The West was sure the Chinese approach would not work. It just had to wait. It’s still waiting.

Among the gems in this lengthy article is this:

“Once an impoverished backwater, China is now the most significant rival to the United States. Wuhan, a former river town, has swelled into a metropolis of over 10 million.”

Sift through the Times archives and it is littered with pieces marveling at just how fabulous is the land run by a Communist dictatorship.

Here, to illustrate, is Times columnist Thomas Friedman gushing that China “is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people.”

Right.

Then there was this in the Times just last July: “A New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington.”

This wonder was concerned that, gee, there were actually Americans who were concerned about the Chinese government and its masters in the Chinese Communist Party. The piece began:

“WASHINGTON — In a ballroom across from the Capitol building, an unlikely group of military hawks, populist crusaders, Chinese Muslim freedom fighters and followers of the Falun Gong has been meeting to warn anyone who will listen that China poses an existential threat to the United States that will not end until the Communist Party is overthrown.

If the warnings sound straight out of the Cold War, they are. The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China.

Once dismissed as xenophobes and fringe elements, the group’s members are finding their views increasingly embraced in President Trump’s Washington, where skepticism and mistrust of China have taken hold. Fear of China has spread across the government, from the White House to Congress to federal agencies, where Beijing’s rise is unquestioningly viewed as an economic and national security threat and the defining challenge of the 21st century.

‘These are two systems that are incompatible,’ Mr. Bannon said of the United States and China. ‘One side is going to win, and one side is going to lose.’”

Got that? Here are a group of knowledgeable Americans from various backgrounds “once dismissed as xenophobes and fringe elements” but now they “are finding their views increasingly embraced in President Trump’s Washington, where skepticism and mistrust of China have taken hold. Fear of China has spread across the government, from the White House to Congress to federal agencies, where Beijing’s rise is unquestioningly viewed as an economic and national security threat and the defining challenge of the 21st century.”

In other words, the Times was mocking these people. Hey, nothing to be concerned about with China. Right? Ahhhh - wrong.

And as I pointed out in this space last week, CNN had jumped to take the Chinese government line that calling the virus the “Wuhan virus” or the “Chinese virus” was, but of course, racist. (In spite of the fact that CNN itself had spent much documented time calling it just that.)

But this constant media bowing to the wishes of the Chinese government is, as the Times has demonstrated, hardly limited to CNN.

This week, as NewsBusters’s Kyle Drennen has noted here: “ABC, PBS Team Up to Call Trump ‘Racist’ During COVID-19 Presser.” And NewsBusters’s Brad Wilmouth headlined this: “MSNBC's Heilemann: 'Nakedly Racist' Trump Blaming Virus on 'Nonwhite' People.”

Forget the fact that no less than the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control have entire sections of their websites devoted to the Marburg Virus, Lyme Disease, Ebola, the Reston Virus, the West Nile Virus, the Lassa Virus and many more, all of which are named for the geographic locale in which they originated. No, suddenly calling the corona virus by the name of its geographic location is racist…and oh by the way, it also offends the Chinese Communist government.

All of this is enough to make one laugh if it weren’t for the serious problem that underlies it.

Over here at Real Clear Politics, Mark Hemingway nails the common thread in all of these incidents exactly. His piece is titled: “Biased Press Does China's Bidding on COVID-19.”

In which Mark says this:

“What’s particularly obnoxious about the press’s desire to force this debate (over Trump’s calling the virus the Chinese Virus) is that it falls right in line with the Chinese government’s propaganda campaign. Earlier this week, China booted several members of the Western media out of the country for the sin of reporting on the extent of China’s outbreak and the Chinese government’s culpability in covering it up. This was in addition to the Chinese government’s decision in February to expel three Wall Street Journal reporters who were covering the coronavirus.

….but if we’ve learned anything in the last few decades, it’s never underestimate the American media’s willingness to run interference for China.”

That, in fact, is exactly what is going on here. Whether it’s writing glowing puff pieces about the Chinese government (which, per Thomas Friedman, “is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people”) or casting China’s American critics as “xenophobes and fringe elements” fanning the flames of a “New Red Scare”, the American media is, exactly as Mark Hemingway says, doing China’s bidding.

Now? With the world and all of America shutting down because of, at a minimum, the spectacular incompetence of the Communist Chinese government, one would think the American media would do some serious re-thinking.

Column China Coronavirus Real Clear Politics ABC PBS CNN New York Times Xi Jinping Tom Friedman

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