A propaganda outlet that frequently spouts talking points in favor of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise in the American newspaper USA Today, one of the largest papers in the country.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, filings with the Department of Justice (DOJ) reveal that China Daily has spent approximately $287,500 to advertise in USA Today since October 2021.
China Daily has similarly paid to advertise with other major American outlets, including Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Foreign Policy magazine. In total, the Chinese outlet has spent millions to spread its message through American publications. Other American papers have cut off previous advertising deals with China Daily, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, after pressure from human rights activists.
In recent years, the U.S. government has been cracking down on Chinese attempts to spread their influence through the West. In 2020, the DOJ demanded that China Daily disclose details of all its payments to American companies; the results showed that the paper had spent over $19 million on advertising and printing costs since November of 2016.
USA Today most likely accepted the Chinese deal in order to offset its massive decline in readership from 2020 to 2021; at a staggering 62 percent drop in circulation in just one year, it represented the largest such decline for any major American newspaper. Similar drops were seen in other outlets that accepted payments from China Daily, including Time and the Los Angeles Times.
Between November 2021 and April 2022, China Daily spent a total of $1,618,143 on advertising, according to its filings with the DOJ; the Chinese outlet paid $649,603 to Time, $315,540 to Financial Times, $306,000 to the Los Angeles Times, and $117,000 to Foreign Policy.
Although USA Today refused to comment on these findings, its code of conduct claims that it does not allow advertisers to influence its coverage of certain events.
“We will not blur the line between advertising and editorial content,” USA Today’s code of ethical conduct states. “We will provide appropriate disclosures, exercise transparency, and avoid actual or implicit commercial endorsements by our journalists. When sponsorships of news are appropriate, we will not allow them to determine, change, or restrict content.