Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
In a pre-taped segment, delivered from the Forbidden City in Beijing, NBC's Matt Lauer pointed out a poll that showed the Chinese are happier than Americans and repeated his line that protestors could be seen as "party crashers," on Tuesday's "Today" show.
During an interview with NBC News China analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Lauer made the following observation:
LAUER: 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?
Then a little later in the segment the "Today" co-host, repeating an earlier worryhe made on Monday's program, declared the average Chinese citizen would disapprove of any protests:
NBC’s Matt Lauer, broadcasting live from the Great Wall of China on Monday’s "Today" show, referred to the "double-edged sword" of the world’s attention being on China for the Summer Olympic Games and asked a Chinese professor about how that "spotlight" might be "co-opted by party crashers who have a bone to pick with this country. He then asked the professor, "How worried are the people here about that?" [audio available here]
Lauer, who will be in China during the next weeks for the Olympics, interviewed Professor Teng Dimeng of the Beijing Foreign Studies University 20 minutes into 7 am Eastern hour of the NBC program. According to the University’s own website, it is a "key university under the [Chinese] Ministry of Education" and that "since her initiation, the [Communist] Party Central Committee and the late Chinese leaders, including Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, has provided great care and teachings for the development of the university." Therefore, Lauer, despite introducing Teng as a professor, was actually speaking to an employee of the Communist Chinese government.
Whoops. On the very day that the New York Times takes President Bush harshly to task for failing to promote human rights in China, the president meets at the White House . . . . with five Chinese human rights activists.
Free market capitalism is a much-despised bogeyman to the mainstream media, as our friends at MRC's Business & Media Institute can attest.
So it's somewhat refreshing to find one article in a major media publication -- okay, it's actually Newsweek -- that seems to lament the entrepreneur-choking nature of government regulation.
Of course, the regulatory state in question happens to be the highly undemocratic Communist China, but in the July 28 edition article, "Taking Away Olympic Fun," Mary Hennock and Manuela Zoninsein lament that "Visitors to the Games will find the newly spruced-up Beijing cleaner -- and blander.":
"Mr. Bush is to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao this week on the sidelines of the G8 Summit - where leaders will talk about soaring gas and food prices and the thorny issue of climate change," Yang said. "Officials want to build momentum toward next year's deadline for a global agreement to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change."
President George W. Bush in April announced his support for establishing federal emissions reduction targets with a goal of stopping greenhouse gas emission growth by 2025. That wasn't enough for "Nightly News," which still managed to find a global warming alarmist with anti-Bush sentiments to bash his efforts.
Could this have been an, "Oops, we messed up" moment for CBSNews.com?
On June 18, CBS.com posted a story claiming that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago because of global warming. [see related NB story by D.S. Hube here]
Not a mere hell-freezes-over-moment. Call it–in honor of Chinese Olympic diving which made the NY Times today–a a triple-twisting forward three-and-a-half flying pig, pike position. An MSM reporter has condemned socialist big-government programs, adding a pitch for unrestrained free-market forces. Check the end of this item for a factoid making the moment even more remarkable.
CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera made the stunning statement on Morning Joe today while reporting on a change in Chinese policy that should lower the price of crude oil world-wide.
Don't feel bad for Geraldine Ferraro. Looks like the Hillary supporter who got into hot water back in March for claiming Obama's race was an advantage has landed on her feet, scoring a gig with the English-language edition of the People's Daily, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party.
For some reason, Geraldine apparently decided to adopt a pen name, writing as "Ding Gang." Perhaps a Chinese-language expert out there can explain the hidden meaning behind her choice of alias.
What's that? The author of Obama Phenomenon in U.S. appearing in today's People's Daily isn't Ferraro? It really is by a guy named Gang? Well, can you blame me for thinking I saw Gerry's hand at work in Gang's article? Compare and contrast the comments that put Ferraro in the MSM doghouse, provoking Olbermann into a scatching Special Comment, with Gang's take:
It's the Olympics, Communist centralized planning-style.
The June 7 Financial Times reported on how the Communist regime in Beijing is in the process of employing "unified trainng" to get Chinese spectators to cheer and clap at this year's summer games in the precise manner that pleases the Communist Party leadership.
The "civilised stadium gesture", designed by a team of experts, involves rhythmic clapping, a double thumbs-up and raising of the spectators' clenched fists.
It is to be accompanied by the chanting of the phrase "Olympics . . . add oil! China . . . add oil!" - a slogan more freely translated as "Go Olympics! Go China! - but officials say that other nations can be substituted for China when appropriate.
"These movements work across cultures. They can be accepted and appreciated by people of any culture or language, including religious believers and disabled people," the official Xinhua news agency quoted organisers as saying.
Organisers say advance-sale tickets are virtually sold out, a success that underlines popular enthusiasm for the games but also means many spectators are likely to be unfamiliar with the norms of audience etiquette.
Over the weekend, the London Times gave us a foolish headline for a foolish story. The trumpeting headline read, "A seismic shift in China's relations with West?" This would be momentous news if true of course. But this supposed "seismic shift" was made up of whole cloth, not of any proof of actions by China otherwise. Instead of a story citing a series of decisions given a suitable amount of time to prove that China really has made some sort of shift in relations, it's all built on an ego stroke the Chinese gave western reporters. This "seismic shift" only exists in the uncritical minds of the western press because they had an easier time of covering this story with less of the usual Chinese restrictiveness. So, they now assume, because the Chinese gave the western press a few minutes of unexpected face time, this must suddenly mean there is a "seismic shift" in relations between the oppressive, murderous Chinese government and the west? The assumption is as simple-minded as it is stupid.
I don't often get as downright blatant as this, but sometimes one has to just come right out and say it -- the western media is filled with stupid people. If this story doesn't make you a believer that too many in the media don't have the good sense God gave a common rock, nothing will ever convince you. This story has it all; self-congratulatory arrogance, ignorance of history, foolishness, blindness and the willful appeasement of one of the worst, most oppressive governments in human history.
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed to mock John McCain's military service as he quipped that McCain was "awol" for not showing up for a Senate vote on providing college tuition to American troops, and further accused McCain, whom he called "Senator 'I Support the Troops,'" of "supporting himself instead of the troops." The MSNBC host also mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California. Notably, just a few weeks ago, Olbermann thought it was amusing to scold Ann Coulter for making a crack about Barack Obama being a "Manchurian candidate" because it might remind people of McCain, even though it was Olbermann, not Coulter, who drew a connection as he observed that the film The Manchurian Candidate was about a "presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia." (Video of Olbermann's "Manchurian Candidate" comments can be found here.) (Transcripts follow)
Newsweek's Conventional Wisdom feature has oft been the target of much snarkage here at NewsBusters, and the featurette failed to disappoint today with this doozy:
[Up Arrow] Chinese government: Unlike Burma's generals, officials are responding quickly and openly to natural disaster.
Ya think?! I mean, they're only hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics so clearly they've been hard at work putting the finishing touches on that Potemkin village. But that doesn't excuse China's human rights abuses or merit them kudos by any stretch, nor does it address how Communist Chinese building codes might be woefully substandard compared to say capitalistic Japan, which is far more often wracked by large-scale earthquakes.
Just as segregation in the South “blunted the force of moral outrage against the Nazis” during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Washington Post arts critic Philip Kennicott contended in a Saturday lead “Style” section piece on a new exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the 1936 games, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have also undermined arguments against Chinese political repression before the Olympic games there this summer.
Deep into his May 10 treatise, “Playing With Fire: U.S. Holocaust Museum Revisits Fascist Iconography of 1936 Games and Beyond,” Kennicott asserted:
It's impossible to walk through the current exhibition without feeling a repetition syndrome. Just as Jim Crow laws blunted the force of moral outrage against the Nazis, the specter of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has blunted the force of arguments about Chinese political repression.
In an international version of the Obama-ABC dustup, two lawsuits have been launched against CNN over remarks made by crusty commentator Jack Cafferty criticizing the Chinese government as well as products made in China.
The first suit was filed in Beijing by 14 lawyers who allege that Cafferty "violated the dignity and reputation of the Chinese people," as Reuters puts it. The second was filed this week by a beautician and a schoolteacher for similar reasons.
Cafferty's remarks actually pale in comparison to things he's said in the past about Republicans and yet, demonstrating once again that it is the right that is the biggest defender of free speech, faced no negative repercussions. Here's Cafferty's original quote about China:
As part of its celebration of Earth Day, NBC's "Today" show invited on actor/environmentalist Ed Norton to promote his National Geographic special on PBS and the "Fight Club" star actually decried America's environmental progress compared to China as he charged the U.S. had to "catch up," to them in the area of banning plastic bags.
ED NORTON: Yeah and when, and when China is ahead of us in banning these things [plastic bags], when other countries around the world are banning these things that we, we need to get in line with that and catch up.
The following is the full segment as it occurred on the April 22, "Today"
MATT LAUER: Two-time Oscar nominee Edward Norton packed a punch with his performance in the film "Fight Club," now he's fighting for a cause, planet Earth. He's narrating National Geographic's series "Strange Days On Planet Earth," which is back for its second installment premiering this week. Edward Norton, good morning, nice to see you.
The Drudge Report is highlighting a Los Angeles Times story on protests by supporters of communist China demanding CNN's Jack Cafferty be fired. David Pierson reported:
The protesters lined Sunset Boulevard from Cahuenga Boulevard to Wilcox Avenue chanting "Fire Cafferty" and "CNN liar" and singing the Chinese national anthem and other patriotic songs.
"Patriotic songs" are apparently sympathetic when they are sung in support of Red China. Doesn't Pierson or the Times consider it noteworthy that this kind of protest wouldn't be permitted inside China? Or that the Chinese national anthem is loaded with irony? It's called "March of the Volunteers," and begins "Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves!" What a joke.
Instead, Pierson spotlights a protester who says he was in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and now China is so vastly improved:
During a panel discussion on the April 9 edition of "The Situation Room," CNN’s Jack Cafferty described the Chinese government as "basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." In response, according to a report from the Associated Press from April 15, "China demanded an apology from CNN." "‘We are shocked and strongly condemn the vicious remarks by Cafferty,’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. ‘We solemnly request CNN and Cafferty himself take back the malicious remarks and apologize to the Chinese people.’"
Cafferty had also blasted China for the substandard quality of many of the products that it exports from the U.S. "[W]e continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart."
Panicky protectionists are predicting some unsavory possibilities for the U.S. economy thanks to emerging foreign economies with newly created wealth to invest.
Although they're unlikely possibilities, CBS's April 6 "60 Minutes" delved into the potential threat one Chinese sovereign wealth fund might pose to the American economy.
"All together, the sovereign wealth funds of countries like Abu Dhabi and Kuwait have spent over $30 billion bailing out our financial system, which has raised some troubling questions," CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl said. "Are these mostly undemocratic regimes saving Wall Street or invading it? One fund is of special concern - it's new, highly secretive and the fifth largest in the world."
What does it say about Reuters' environmental coverage when the news organization can't even get a basic “factbox” correct?
This March 31 Reuters “factbox” was supposed to explain “What is the Kyoto Protocol?” Instead, the media conglomerate pushed a biased eco-agenda and omitted anything that cast a negative light on the treaty or revealed problems. There was no mention of Kyoto participants failing to meet their targets or Japan trying to renegotiate because Kyoto is harming its economy. Reuters failed to report that greenhouse gas emissions are rising in the European Union and in many Kyoto-participating countries, such as Canada. Some, like Austria and Great Britain, are actually doing worse than the US in emissions growth. By skewing the data included in this factbox, Reuters massaged data to fit an agenda and crossed into advocacy journalism.
Reuters began by framing the US as the bad guy (all bold mine):
We better hope there are some big-time technological advances in the science of home air conditioning by the year 2040. According to the outlook offered by Dr. James Lovelock in the March 22 issue of The Daily Mail (U.K.), we're in for some dire consequences.
"By 2040, the world population of more than six billion will have been culled by floods, drought and famine," Sands wrote. "The people of Southern Europe, as well as South-East Asia, will be fighting their way into countries such as Canada, Australia and Britain. We will, he says, have to set up encampments in this country, like those established for the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced by the conflict in East Africa. Lovelock believes the subsequent ethnic tensions could lead to civil war."
International journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is declaring March 12 "Online Free Expression Day" to raise awareness to government repression of Web-based journalism in over 20 countries throughout the world.
RSF now lists 15 countries as "Internet enemies" (such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea) and 11 other nations in a less-severe but nonetheless troubling designation as "countries under watch" (emphasis mine):
Associated Press writer Tini Tran, in covering the fallout inside Mainland/Communist China from Steven Spielberg's decision to resign from his position as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics over that country's involvement in Darfur, introduced the critical reaction to his decision as a "groundswell" rising up from the public. But the detail presented indicates that the reaction came from Chinese officialdom far more than from the public in general (bolds are mine):
China Media, Public Angered by Spielberg
Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's decision to quit the Beijing Olympics over the Darfur crisis is drawing condemnation by China's state-controlled media and a groundswell of criticism from the Chinese public.
..... Officially, the Chinese government has not directly criticized Spielberg by name, expressing only "regret" over his decision. But the state-run media and the public have been far less restrained.
A long and carefully-worded December 14 Washington Post article about this week's climate change conference in Bali portrayed President Bush as the reason that the United States is not following Kyoto and the sole roadblock to saving Mother Earth.
On top of that, even while presenting the eco-blame-game's backstory, the reporter never mentioned the Clinton/Gore administration's involvement or that they set the standard for how America handles Kyoto.
But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.
Who is the biggest climate sinner? Not China, says the AP.
The Associated Press reported November 7 an interest group's findings that Saudi Arabia and the United States are the worst "climate sinners" for not taking drastic attempts to cut carbon emissions. But it accepted the group's "relatively positive" assertion that China's emission growth will slow in the future.
The news wire story picked up by USA Today reported that Saudi Arabia was the biggest sinner because its policies block attempts to curb greenhouse gases and the U.S. was second because it refuses to sign the Kyoto Treaty.
Update (Nov. 8 | 13:00 EST): International and Beijing Olympic officials are denying any such Bible ban exists. Click here for the story.
"Olympic agencies of the free world shouldn't tolerate this kind of intolerance. But will the media notice?" NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham asked in a Sunday blog post, referring to a November 2 Catholic News Agency article reporting the Communist Chinese government's plan to bar athletes from bringing Bibles along with their other personal effects in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Unfortunately, a full four days after the CNA article, it seems major print and television media have ignored the story. A Nexis search of major newspapers from November 2-6 yielded no stories on the matter. Ditto with a search of ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts, as well as a search of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
A notable exception to the general media silence: Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto. Just after the half-hour mark to his November 6 program the host of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" covered the controversy as he interviewed evangelist Bill Keller, who is urging the United States government to boycott next year's Summer Games should China not repeal the policy.
Cavuto and Keller noted that the Koran, unlike the Bible, was not similarly on the censorship list.
Organizers of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing have published a list of “prohibited objects” in the Olympic village where athletes will stay. To the surprise of many, Bibles are among the objects that will not be allowed. According to the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, organizers have cited “security reasons” and have prohibited athletes from bearing any kind of religious symbol at Olympic facilities.
This sounds contrary to what the communist government was promising just a few weeks ago. See Reuters: