NBC Ignores Protests in Hong Kong; CBS and ABC Cover, But Won't Label Chinese Govt. Communist

NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Tuesday. That day, ABC's World News labeled the demonstration "one of the largest marches in Hong Kong's history" during an 18-second news brief, but failed to mention that the communist Chinese government was the target of the participants. The network's morning show, Good Morning America, has yet to devote any air time to the protest.

Seth Doane filed a two-minute report about the march on Wednesday's CBS Evening News. But like his peers at ABC, Doane omitted describing the "central government here in Beijing" as communist. Anchor Scott Pelley introduced the correspondent's report by noting the anniversary the protesters were marking: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]

SCOTT PELLEY: Early today, police in Hong Kong arrested more than 500 protestors – part of a group that led a massive street demonstration to mark 17 years since Britain handed over Hong Kong to China. Seth Doane reports the protestors want one thing: democracy.

Doane outlined that "the arrests followed an overnight sit-in – organized by students who planned to occupy part of Hong Kong's financial center – but were swiftly removed by police." He also included two sound bites from protesters, who explained their reasons for participating:

SETH DOANE (voice-over): ...Organizers claimed more than half a million filled the streets. Police said that number was closer to 100,000. But there's no disagreement on the why. The target is Beijing. (clip of protester speaking in foreign language) 'They ask us to call them the central government,' this protestor said, 'but actually, they act like a mafia.'

Anger, particularly among young people, is pouring out, over what they see as increased Chinese interference in Hong Kong. The former British colony has an unusual setup – called 'one country, two systems' – which allows Hong Kong a high degree of political autonomy and its own legal system.

The annual protest march was much bigger this year, as it followed a symbolic referendum that saw nearly 800,000 people take part in a pro-democracy vote, which Beijing denounced as illegal. Protestors yelled, 'We do not fear China's pressure.' (clip of protester speaking in foreign language) This teacher said he came to demand justice and democracy for the next generation.


Near the end of his report, the CBS journalist noted that "Hong Kong protestors are looking ahead to the 2017 election of its chief executive. Currently, Beijing hand-selects the people for that ballot. The protestors want to be able to put their own people on the ballot. Scott, as you might imagine, that idea is dismissed by the central government here in Beijing."

Tuesday's CBS This Morning led into a report on a recent anti-corruption shake-up in the communist Chinese government by highlighting the demonstration in Hong Kong:

MARGARET BRENNAN: This morning, in Hong Kong, tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets, demanding greater democratic freedom. Today marks the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule.

An on-screen graphic did underline that "China expels top members of the Communist Party."

The transcript of David Muir's report on the protests in Hong Kong on Tuesday's World News on ABC:

DAVID MUIR: And now to one more incredible picture from overseas. We want to show you these images out of Hong Kong tonight – crowds stretching to the horizon there. Hundreds of thousands of protestors, undaunted by downpours today – that sea of umbrellas – taking part in what was one of the largest marches in Hong Kong's history – all of them calling for more democracy in China.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center