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April 20, 2020

Chinese Influence on American Media

Massive amounts of money flows from Beijing to U.S. media conglomerates.

Most Americans would like to believe the country is run by representative government acting in their best interests. Yet as we are witnessing right now, the media’s ability to shape the narrative may be forcing government’s hand far more than we want to admit. Who’s forcing our corporatized media’s hand? As always, money talks — and much of that money has its origins in China.

“The companies that own the major news networks, NBC, ABC, and CBS, all do significant business in China,” writes columnist Arthur Bloom.

Bloom further notes that these media entities, which have morphed into shills for the Democrat Party, are hardly alone. Until Fox relinquished its Asia-Pacific operations to Disney over the last two years, former owner Rupert Murdoch made several efforts to ingratiate himself with Beijing, including helping the leading state broadcaster develop a news website and building relationships with the Communist Youth League.

Note that these companies — such as Disney, which owns ABC, and Comcast, which owns NBC News, CNBC, and MSNBC, for example — are not news organizations. Rather they are large multinational conglomerates that own news organizations among a host of other holdings, including entertainment companies. A 2016 article reveals a dozen media companies, including Dick Clark Productions, AMC Theaters, the World Triathlon Corporation (which organizes Ironman Triathlon races), and Riot Games (a video games producer), were sold to Chinese corporations.

Even then, a Washington Post editorial sounded the alarm, noting that despite its deficiencies, the United States’ entertainment industry “is a monument to free expression; as such, it is an element of this nation’s ‘soft power’ and should not be sold off unquestioningly to foreign interests that do not share the United States’ commitment to artistic freedom.”

Maybe newspapers should be equally circumspect about foreign interests. As The Washington Free Beacon reported in 2019, China Daily, an official government mouthpiece, purchased ad space for 500 print pages in six American newspapers over seven years — all of which were designed to look like news stories. Three of those newspapers are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and … The Washington Post.

That Post editorial appeared in October 2016. Back in January, the paper published an editorial with a decidedly different take. Its title? “Let China win. It’s good for America.”

Apparently not. That same year, 16 members of Congress sent a letter to Gene Dodoaro, controller general of the Government Accountability Office, asking him to examine legal authority regarding foreign investment in America and whether some parameters needed adjusting.

If anything was done, it didn’t amount to much. “Chinese internet giants like Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba are ramping up investments in U.S. tech and media companies,” Axios reported in 2018. “They’re also building data servers and acquiring ad tech businesses in the U.S. that can help them monetize media engagement from citizens living in America, like students or tourists.”

Once again, Congress was ostensibly alarmed. “U.S. lawmakers are weighing ways to clamp down on some investments and acquisitions in light of concerns that they could give America’s biggest rivals access to sensitive technologies that that are crucial to the U.S.‘s economic and national security priorities,” Axios added.

Nonetheless, 2018 was the same year a Chinese-launched phone app called TikTok, which allows users to post quick videos of lip-syncing, dancing, and their own audio, became one of the most popular apps downloaded from the iOS store. And despite terms of service that ostensibly prevent anyone under 18 from using it, an investigation revealed it has virtually no privacy features.

The result? According to Axios, the app offered data-mined info to “third parties and the Chinese government.”

Because these media conglomerates are multidimensional, the idea that their news entities can remain insulated from Chinese influence is a pipe dream. For example, the same Disney that owns ABC has a theme park in Shanghai. It also own ESPN. In turn, ESPN has a multibillion-dollar content-rights deal with the NBA. Thus, when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey incurred Beijing’s wrath for expressing support for Hong Kong protesters, Deadspin reported that Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that they avoid political discussions of China and Hong Kong. Reuters reported that an ESPN broadcast showed a map that appeared to endorse China’s claims “to both Taiwan and disputed territories in the South China Sea.”

Comcast? On March 10, the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York expressed the hope that “Comcast continues its efforts to cooperate with China.” Regarding the virus outbreak, it added that it hoped “NBC and other U.S. media will objectively and fairly report China’s efforts to control the epidemic.”

Would that China held itself to the same standards. On Friday, the Communist government “adjusted” its Wuhan death totals — making an utter mockery of NBC reporter Richard Engel’s appearance in a propaganda video released by Global Times, a state-run Chinese tabloid, that touted that nation’s success in containing the virus. CNN’s Chris Cuomo also appeared in the video.

These examples are the tip of the iceberg. This writer has documented the plethora of Hollywood movies “tailored” for Chinese Communist sensibilities. And columnist Larry O'Connor illuminates the bigger picture, revealing the extended Chinese relationships between not only Hollywood and the news media but theme parks, cellular and cable networks, and movie theaters — and all the products they sell that are manufactured in China.

O'Connor refuses to be conspiratorial, insisting the idea that company CEOs direct how stories are to be reported is a “straw man argument.” Yet he paints a damnable reality regardless, insisting any suggestion that “these companies are not aware that their product is viewed, scrutinized and judged by the government of China and [that] there is an incredibly well-documented history of certain accommodations made to placate the Beijing propagandists is dangerously naive.”

Maybe O'Connor is naive. A damning report by NPR reveals that former Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg killed the second chapter of a story investigating the wealth of Chinese Communist Party elites.

The first chapter angered the Chinese government and that was apparently a tipping point. Bloomberg’s organization not only killed the second story, it worked to silence reporter Mike Forsythe and his wife. Forsythe was initially suspended before being fired, and the couple was forced to sign nondisclosure agreements, leveraged by the threat of a six-figure lawsuit that would have forced them to repay Bloomberg for underwriting their relocation costs to Hong Kong after receiving death threats likely engendered by the first story.

Why would one of the richest men in the world kowtow to China? “After the first investigative project ran in 2012, the Chinese authorities had searched Bloomberg’s news bureaus, delayed visas for reporters and ordered state-owned companies not to sign new leases for Bloomberg’s primary product: its terminals,” NPR revealed, adding those terminals “are the lucrative basis of Mike Bloomberg’s personal fortune.”

In the midst of the current pandemic, it might be worth knowing what forms the basis of integrity and patriotism for all of America’s media conglomerates.

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