On June 4, 1989, the communist regime in China cracked down violently on democratic protesters in Tiananmen Square. American networks had provided weeks of coverage of the protests, and the crackdown was a global outrage.
But both then and later, some national reporters embarrassed themselves by making odd comparisons between the communist crackdown and allegedly similar outrages in America:
Tomorrow, June 4, is the 20th anniversary of the Chinese army massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Back in 1989, the big networks provided in-depth coverage of the massive protests that swelled in mid-May, and harsh coverage of the brutal reaction from the communist authorities.
But, as the Media Research Center noted at the time, the networks also used the occasion for some bizarre comparisons. Two that stand out from our archive: CBS’s Eric Engberg comparing the People’s Liberation Army’s planned assault on students with the Ohio National Guard’s panicky shooting into anti-war demonstrators at Kent State University in 1970, killing four; and NBC commentator John Chancellor ruing the heavy focus on the bloodshed in Beijing instead of a then-new Carnegie report found problems with America’s middle schools.