Is the U.S. Media Parroting China’s Propaganda?

Are U.S.-based media companies and journalists deliberately pushing Communist China’s propaganda and disinformation about COVID-19 to protect their Chinese media partners and profits?

Regrettably, it wouldn’t be the first time American media entities served as willing dupes for America’s strategic enemies.

In 1931, New York Times reporter Walter Duranty wrote a series of articles praising a strategic threat and rival model of governance to the United States and liberal democracies everywhere—namely, the Communism of Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union.

One, headlined, “Stalinism Solving Minorities Problem,” claimed “racial favoritism” was banned, and that Stalin’s policies offered “hope to all sections.” This hideous piece was published at the very time Stalin was slaughtering ethnic minorities, starving millions of Ukrainians, and sending hundreds of thousands to work camps.

In the end, Stalin perpetrated one of the most horrific democides in human history: between 6 million to 10 million men, women, and children died as a result of Stalin’s reign of terror.

Few Americans knew what was actually happening in the Soviet Union, however, in large part because Duranty, whose sympathies were with the Communist regime, abdicated his journalistic duty to be objective and report about the facts of the appalling slaughter.

Duranty perpetrated one of the greatest journalistic frauds of the past century. The American public was lied to by omission and commission, all because of Duranty’s support for Communism, abetted by his editors’ laziness and, perhaps, similar sympathies toward the hideous ideology. Ultimately, the Russian and all the captive nations of Europe threw off the Soviet yoke, put the lie to Duranty’s propaganda, and liberated an entire continent from Communism.

Unfortunately, another strategic threat and rival model of governance to the United States and the free world has emerged today—Communist China. And the American media has learned nothing from Walter Duranty’s disgraceful behavior.

But it’s more than just amnesia and a refusal to learn from the past. And it isn’t just ideology that is driving the media’s aid to the Communist Chinese. It’s profit.

It’s not just big tech companies, Hollywood, the NBA, and academia that are kowtowing to Beijing’s whims. Virtually every major media entity in the United States has some form of Chinese investment or is invested in China. Comcast, the parent company of NBC News, has significant business ties to China, yet its reporters and commentators never disclose those relationships—which, naturally, significantly shape their coverage of China. Recently, an NBC News reporter was used in a Chinese government propaganda video to tout the regime’s “success” in controlling COVID-19.

None of this is news to those Americans paying attention to Communist China’s insidious influence campaign.

For more than 20 years, the Washington Post and New York Times, among others, have had a business relationship with China Watch, an offshoot of China Daily, a Chinese-government newspaper. The newspapers for more than 30 years have run pages of propaganda in special “advertorial” inserts in their print editions, at a reported price in excess of $100,000 per page, adding millions to the papers’ ad revenue.

This relationship expanded over the past decade, with the Washington Post actually sharing content from China Daily via a Post-managed website that is no longer active (fortunately, plenty of media outlets have screenshots).

Despite the attempt to cloak it, the relationship remains, with China Watch continuing to call the Post a “media partner.” The Post is often the most widely cited U.S. publication in China Daily coverage of American news. See, for example, this opinion article about last year’s Las Vegas shooting rampage.

The South China Morning Post—owned by Alibaba, a company with significant ties to the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military establishment—also shares Post content and has a content-sharing agreement with Politico. Recently, the SCMP published an article that attempted to re-write the timeline of the global pandemic.

Apparently, these media outlets’ calls for “transparency” have fallen on deaf ears—their own. None of these U.S. media outlets have divulged how extensive and profitable their business ties are with the Chinese government’s media outlets; nor have the Chinese entities shared such required, detailed information in their filings with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Still, the Post doesn’t hide all of its business relationships with companies tied to the Chinese regime. For instance, the Post’s digital marketing company touts the work it does for Huawei, a Chinese communications equipment manufacturer that has been accused by a number of governments, including that of the United States, of building equipment to advantage its Chinese government investors; and is considered as a potential threat to America and her allies’ national security.

Recently, ProPublica, a U.S. investigative reporting nonprofit, revealed in a detailed study how Chinese propagandists had launched a significant campaign on Twitter and other social media platforms to spread misinformation about the coronavirus via a Chinese government-controlled marketing company called OneSight. Its clients, among many others, include China Daily and Huawei. Some of those social media posts were shared by U.S. media outlets and reporters (almost all of which have now been removed).

The Washington Post and New York Times have stated on a number of occasions their business relationships with Chinese government-controlled entities in no way influence their reporting—which may well be true since reporters from both publications had their media credentials pulled by the Chinese government last month.

But the months of coverage in those papers raising doubts about the true risk of Covid-19, and attacking those citing its origins in Communist China, leave one skeptical if, for no other reason than that for these media giants the profit motive remains.

For example, the Post reported on February 2, “The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now.” Then this on February 3? How about this from February 5: “The coronavirus reawakens old racist tropes against Chinese people,” which has been a new theme for the Post over the past two months?

In fact, in the midst of a pandemic caused by Communist China’s malfeasance and disinformation that cost untold thousands of Chinese lives, the Post has encouraged other media outlets to cover rumors to smear the Trump Administration with claims of anti-Asian bias with little or no evidence.

Fake news is bad enough; but one would have hoped parroting Communist Chinese propaganda was beyond the pale even for them.

But for that hope to have been plausible, one would have had to forget how, for three years, these same media outlets peddled the Russia-gate lie, claiming the duly elected president of the United States was a puppet of Vladimir Putin, due to Russian influence and propaganda infiltrating the 2016 U.S. elections. Ironic, isn’t it, that at the very time hundreds of thousands of Americans are suffering from the effects of a virus media outlets like the Washington Post downplayed for weeks, these same outlets continue to condemn others for citing its origin and refusing to place the responsibility for the pandemic where it rightly belongs: on Communist China.

These media outlets need to shine a light on their ties to China and, we can only hope, prove their objectivity to the American public. Because if “democracy dies in darkness,” the truth should never be buried by greed.

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

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