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:
TV Newser reported NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is the 2013 recipient of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. “From the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Arab Spring and the West Bank, Richard Engel’s courage and integrity inform his reporting,” said Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia Journalism School and a former editor of The Washington Post.
This is almost poetic: Engel routinely bad-mouthed U.S. wars in the Bush years, and as an NBC commentator after during the first Gulf War, Chancellor infamously announced in 1992 that it was “embarrassing” that more Americans didn’t die from Iraqi fire:
Each morning, NewsBusters is showcasing the most egregious bias the Media Research Center has uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala on September 27. (Click here for ticket information)
Already this week, we’ve published the worst quotes of 1988, 1989 and 1990; today, the worst bias of 1991. Highlights include journalists saluting Anita Hill while disparaging Clarence Thomas (“if you gave Clarence Thomas a little flour on his face, you’d think you had [former KKK Grand Wizard] David Duke talking”), and a Boston Globe arts critic writing about patriotism: “Oh, say, we’ve seen too much. The Star-Spangled Banner pushes like a cough through America’s mouth...” [Quotes and video below the jump.]
Ronald Reagan may have won the Cold War by forcing the Soviet Union to realize that it could not compete financially or technologically with a revitalized United States. But to the American media, the Reagan defense buildup seemed like a plot designed to deny government aid to poor and hungry people. It was seemingly the only spending that caused the budget deficit, even bankrupted the country. Cranking up spending on supposedly unworkable new ideas like a national missile defense system was “absolute nonsense,” as ABC’s Ted Koppel told Phil Donahue in 1987.
A 1985 Los Angeles Times survey of reporters found out how McGovernite liberalism dominated the press: 84 percent of reporters and editors supported a so-called “nuclear freeze” to ban all future nuclear missile deployment; 80 percent were opposed to increased defense spending; and 76 percent objected to aid to the Contra rebels fighting for democracy in Nicaragua. One side of this debate had an eye on permanent “peaceful coexistence.” The other side had an eye on victory.
As readers of Cal Thomas’s latest syndicated column already know, the Media Research Center is releasing a new report today on the media’s coverage of communism, timed to coincide with the 20 anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Monday. Sad to say, but before, during and after those momentous events two decades ago, many in the liberal media continuously whitewashed the true nature of communism, or suggested free-market capitalism was somehow worse.
For our report, Better Off Red?, Scott Whitlock and I combed through the MRC’s archives; the quotes (and 19 audio/video clips) we pulled together show some liberal journalists utterly failed to accurately depict communism as one of the worst evils of the 20th century, and often aimed their fire at those who were fighting communism rather than those who were perpetuating it. The full report has more than 70 quotes; here's a sample from the Executive Summary:
■ Before it collapsed, these journalists insisted those enslaved by communism actually feared capitalism more. "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy," CBS anchor Dan Rather asserted in 1987.
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.