Though the Red Chinese regime was so embarrassed by a woman interrupting the White House welcoming ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao to denounce him, that it censored the incident from news coverage back in China, CBS on Thursday night framed coverage around worries about offending China over Taiwan and how some incident made the White House look bad while NBC focused on the “embarrassment” the protester caused to the Bush team. CBS's Bob Schieffer led with how “this was not the best day the White House ever had,” citing how “a government announcer introduced China's national anthem by calling it the national anthem of the Republic of China.” Schieffer adopted Red China's spin, er, I mean that of the People's Republic of China, as he explained how Republic of China is “the formal name of the island of Taiwan,” which “claims to be an independent nation, a claim that China fiercely disputes.” Plus, “a heckler got into the White House grounds and caused a commotion.” ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas echoed Schieffer's concern about the announced name of the country: "There was another awkward moment during the White House ceremony. An announcer referred to China as the 'Republic of China,' which is the formal name for Taiwan, which China considers to be a rebellious province."
NBC's David Gregory declared that "this was considered to the President a major embarrassment" and fretted about how "the outburst was a major irritant to the Chinese leader since the White House gave her a day pass to attend the event." Anchor Brian Williams asked "about the lasting significance" of the incident? Gregory relayed how "one veteran diplomat that was on hand today said there's no way that the Chinese won't think that this was an intentional move by the administration." (Transcripts follow)
The woman, Wenyi Wang, of the pro-Falun Gong Epoch Times newspaper, got into the South Lawn event via a day pass issued to her as a journalist. She shouted: "President Bush: Stop him from killing! President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong."
As for those who are lucky enough to live in the fairly democratic Republic of China, why do journalists make such an effort to see the status of that nation through the prism of how a bunch of communists think they should exercise control over those who have managed to escape their oppression? NBC Nightly News, by the way, didn't waste time worrying about any offense taken by the communists by how the ludicrous “People's” was left off the announcement of the nation's name.
ABC's World News Tonight didn't frame their coverage around White House incompetence or supposed embarrassment for the White House, but Martha Raddatz's story did include this soundbite from Derek Mitchell of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: “This is a huge embarrassment for both the United States and China. They believe in conspiracies. They believe things happen for a reason. That the United States means what it does. And something like this can feed that kind of a mind set.”
Bob Schieffer led the April 20 CBS Evening News:
"China's President came to see President Bush today, but this was not the best day the White House ever had. First, a government announcer introduced China's national anthem by calling it the national anthem of the Republic of China. In fact, the Republic of China is the name, the formal name of the island of Taiwan, which claims to be an independent nation, a claim that China fiercely disputes. Then a heckler got into the White House grounds and caused a commotion, and finally, when the two Presidents sat down together, it does not appear they got much done. Here's Jim Axelrod."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the NBC Nightly News coverage. Brian Williams led:
"Good evening. The stakes were understandably high today when the President of China arrived at the White House for the first time. President Bush welcomed President Hu in grand style, but it was not an official state visit, and that in itself was a subtle message. There are a number of issues between these two nations, and that became clear when the Chinese President started his speech and a not-so-subtle message was shouted out by a woman standing with the news media. A minor incident in the scope of things, but one that might have set the tone for the entire day. We begin with NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory. And David, where did it go from there?"
David Gregory: "Brian, quite a ways, in fact. The President later apologized to President Hu at the outset of their one-on-one meeting. This was considered to the President a major embarrassment, and it came on a day that was tightly scripted down to the last detail. The atmosphere was formal for Hu Jintao's first visit to the White House, the setting tightly secured. Yet, when President Hu began to make his remarks, there was a rare interruption."
Protester: "President Bush, stop him from killing!"
Gregory: "The protester was later identified as Wang Wenyi, a reporter working for a newspaper linked to the spiritual group Falun Gong, which is banned in China. Mr. Bush encouraged Hu to keep speaking, saying 'you're okay,' but the outburst was a major irritant to the Chinese leader since the White House gave her a day pass to attend the event. She was arrested and later charged with disorderly conduct and attempting to intimidate a foreign official. The spectacle, as well as throngs of protesters outside the White House today, was a fitting backdrop to a strong message the President sent on human rights in China."
George W. Bush: "China can grow even more successful by allowing the Chinese people the freedom to assemble, to speak freely, and to worship."
Gregory: "Numerous disputes between the U.S. and China, from trade to Iran's nuclear program, were later discussed in the Oval Office where the President reported progress, but no breakthroughs."
Bush: "We don't agree on everything, but we're able to discuss our disagreements in a spirit of friendship and cooperation."
Williams: "David Gregory back with us at the White House. And, David, how did this all play back home in China?"
Gregory: "Well, the bottom line is it didn't play at all, Brian. The Chinese leadership blacked out this entire incident on state-run television, so nobody ever saw it. Images were pretty important to them today."
Williams: "And for those who might think too much is being made of this, again, comparatively minor incident given the whole day, what is, what have you learned about the lasting significance of this tonight?"
Gregory: "The point is that this was a visit that was so tightly scripted, and it had been planned for months in advance, and images mattered more than substance, frankly, today. There were no major agreements. One veteran diplomat that was on hand today said there's no way that the Chinese won't think that this was an intentional move by the administration."