Yesterday I noted how two Washington Post reporters, Andrew Higgins and Keith Richburg, studiously refused to tag Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng as a "human rights activist." Curious about whether the Post has ever described him as such in its reporting, I did a Nexis search.
What I found was that at no time in the past few weeks has Chen -- whose work included shedding a spotlight on forced abortions in China -- ever been described by a Post reporter as a "human rights activist" or "human rights advocate." Curiously, however, the Post editorial board has directly and indirectly labeled Chen as one:
Despite devoting 33 stories to the dramatic case of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, NBC and ABC have all but ignored the major cause of the human rights activist: Opposing the communist country's policy of forced abortion and sterilization. From April 28 to May 7, the two networks only mentioned this detail five times– and then only in passing.
Although Chen's high profile plight might seem like a logical time to take an expansive look into China's one-child policy, the two networks passed. CBS, however, touted Chen's pro-life activities the most, referencing them in seven of 16 stories. (The three networks totaled 44 stories over ten days.) On April 28, World News reporter David Kerley mentioned, as an aside, that Chen,"who has protested and exposed forced abortions and sterilizations, was able to scale a wall and escape" his house arrest.
In the domain of what properly constitutes human rights issues, forced abortions and sterilizations have to fall in that category. So why isn't the Washington Post describing Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng as a "human rights activist"?
In two stories packaged side-by-side on page A9 of the May 8 paper, the Post's Andrew Higgins and Keith B. Richburg failed to use the term to describe Chen. Higgins tagged Chen a "blind activist," as in an activist who is blind, not an activist for the blind, but the term could confuse casual readers unfamiliar with Chen's plight. Richburg opened his story by tagging Chen as "the self-taught lawyer who has become the center of a diplomatic crisis between the United States and China."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Thursday fretted about the "very tough spot" a Chinese dissident and human rights activist has put Hillary Clinton in. On Friday's Good Morning America, Josh Elliott kept the spotlight on Clinton, lamenting that the Secretary of State is "caught in the middle" of this ongoing diplomatic crisis.
Rather than start his report by focusing on Chen Guangcheng, the man who's life is in danger, Williams warned, "We begin tonight with a man who has changed his mind and by doing so put the U.S. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a very tough spot in what is already a complicated relationship with China." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Tim Carney has an excellent post this morning at the Washington Examiner about how the media are reluctant to note the reason that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng -- who is believed , but not confirmed, to be in hiding in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing -- is in hot water with the Communist government. Chen "has exposed the horrors of China’s one-child policy, including forced abortions and forced sterilizations," Carney noted.
Yet that fact was curiously missing from today's "1300-word Washington Post story." Indeed, "Of the five Post news articles I found discussing Chen, only one of them has the word 'abortion,'" Carney noticed. And the Post isn't alone in its bias by omission: