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Recent Department of Justice filings show that multiple mainstream media outlets have taken millions of dollars to publish Chinese propaganda, even as they only now have started reversing course on their reporting on the COVID-19 lab origination theory.
President Trump’s insistence that the mainstream media traffics in “fake news” continues to prove true each day. In addition to the report showing that media outlets received millions of dollars in Chinese money, mainstream media outlets and Facebook have been forced to admit that President Trump’s claims that COVID came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology look more and more likely.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that China Daily paid $1.6 million for ad campaigns to groups like Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, and Foreign Policy during a six-month period in 2020 and 2021. In addition, China Daily gave $1 million to newspapers such as the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, and Houston Chronicle to print copies of its publications.
This isn’t new. Media outlets have been taking Chinese money for years. A 2020 report found that between November 2016 and 2020, American newspapers collected nearly $19 million in revenue for publishing China Daily advertorials and providing printing and distribution services. During that period, the Wall Street Journal took in a total of nearly $6 million and the Washington Post $4.6 million, while the New York Times received $100,000 a month to run print versions of Chinese propaganda, in addition to other services.
Those three major papers have since cut ties with the Chinese propaganda organization. The New York Times, for example, quietly removed hundreds of advertorials from its website last year.
China Daily’s printed inserts, entitled “China Watch,” offer a positive spin on the Chinese government and life in China. Since last year, they have also highlighted the CCP’s handling of COVID and criticized American officials who call into question the Chinese response.
It’s not just China Daily publishing pro-China material in legacy media, however. Sometimes the media does it entirely on its own. Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a piece headlined, “In a Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, China Offers Its Version of Freedom.” The article trumpeted China’s handling of COVID while criticizing U.S. lockdowns and a “president who ignored science” and insisted that the rest of the locked-down world envies China’s “freedom of movement” and its citizens’ ability to “lead a normal day-to-day life.”
During the COVID crisis, the media appeared to take an aggressive pro-China stance, giving preference to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sources over those in the Trump administration on such critical questions as the origin of the COVID virus and the efficacy of lockdowns, while also ignoring or even mocking Chinese whistleblowers and American scientific and medical skeptics.
Nowhere is this abysmal reporting evidenced more than in the media’s recent reversal regarding the Trump administration’s theory that COVID originated in a Wuhan lab. Drew Holden posted a Twitter thread showing several “then and now” headlines that compared what was said about the lab-leak theory while Trump was president and what is being said today.
For example, the Washington Post ran a headline saying, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.” Now that intelligence reports show that the theory may not be conspirative and is highly likely to be true, the Post ran a new headline announcing, “The vexing ‘lab leak’ theory on China and the coronavirus.”
Last year CNN tweeted, “‘We urge the U.S. to stop spreading disinformation.’ China says recent accusations by the Trump administration that the Covid-19 pandemic originated in a lab in Wuhan are a political strategy for Republicans ahead of the 2020 presidential election.” CNN has now tweeted, “New information on Wuhan researchers’ illness furthers debate on pandemic origins.”
CNN also stated last year that Sen. Tom Cotton was “playing a dangerous game with his coronavirus speculation” and ran a headline quoting a virologist who said that the Cotton’s theory was “like something out a comic book.”
It’s not just the media that has flipped-flopped, however. Up until very recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci insisted that COVID-19 originated in nature, likely from bats, and publicly dismissed the lab theory, stating that the scientific evidence was “very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.”
Now in light of new revelations, including the fact that Fauci’s organization, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), gave a $600,000 grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to study coronaviruses, he has conceded that “we don’t know 100 percent what the origin is — it’s imperative that we look and we do an investigation.”
Despite Fauci’s long record of inconsistencies and even intentional deceptions, such as insisting that vaccinated Americans still need to wear masks to protect themselves from COVID, the media has continued give Dr. Fauci fawning coverage and a constant platform from which to spout his spin and dubious recommendations.
It’s important to recognize too that media companies are no longer owned largely by family-owned American publishing companies, as they once tended to be, but by massive global corporate conglomerates with business interests in China.
The Federalist ran an article in May 2020 detailing the incestuous relationships that major media companies have with the CCP. Time-Warner, for example, which owns CNN, entered into a $50 million partnership with a Chinese investment fund, among other business ventures, while the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, which does direct business with CCP-controlled entities and manufactures most of its Amazon Echo and Kindle devices in Chinese manufacturing facilities using cheap and sometimes forced labor. NBC, ABC, and the New York Times also have extensive ties with the CCP through their investors and parent companies.
An honest, skeptical, vibrant free press — the Fourth Estate, as it’s been dubbed — is critical to checking political power and ensuring an accountable government, but today’s media is no longer functioning as it was designed. Somewhere along the way, the mainstream media became partisans and political activists and the fact that media corporations are actively taking money from a hostile, foreign power to run propaganda shows that members of the media no longer have any ethical framework guiding their daily activities.
There is little doubt that the media used the pandemic to paint Trump in as bad a light as possible, proving that even a national crisis that endangered the American people’s lives and their civil liberties wouldn’t stop mainstream reporters from obfuscating or abandoning any pretense of objectivity to further their own agenda.
But in taking money directly from China to run CCP propaganda, the question of why the media went to such lengths to bash Trump and protect China takes on a whole new level of concern. Have they so compromised themselves that they won’t — or can’t— tell the truth about China? Or is that their interests are completely aligned?
During the pandemic, there were many areas where the media had cause to question or criticize the Trump administration. They did so and they should have done so. But they also should have just as rigorously questioned China’s answers and actions regarding its own handling of the outbreak, especially when Chinese doctors and scientists who blew the whistle on the outbreak went missing or died mysteriously and when China refused to initially share key virus information with U.S. or World Health Organization officials.
Even the fact that Wuhan is home to a biosafety level 4 virology research lab run by the Chinese government should have triggered some mild curiosity among reporters about the likelihood of such an unlikely coincidence. It’s hard to imagine that former 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace would have allowed that little factoid to slip by.
Unfortunately, today’s mainstream reporters not only accepted China’s answers without skepticism and insisted on using CCP officials as prime sources to bolster China’s position, but they dismissed, mocked, and silenced any scientist, doctor, military leader, diplomat, or politician who maintained an open mind regarding important questions about the pandemic and worked to dig up facts and determine the truth.
Like so many American corporations, the news media has allowed itself to be corrupted by pride, avarice, and power to the point that they accept CCP dollars and CCP lies with impudence. How these actions aren’t considered treason is hard to fathom. It’s certainly not unprecedented for members of the press to be so charged and convicted. Several American correspondents and broadcasters were charged with treason and jailed for spreading Nazi propaganda during World War II, including Douglas Chandler, Robert Henry Best, Herbert John Burgman, and Mildred Elizabeth Gillars, also known as “Axis Sally” who became the first American woman ever convicted of treason.
Unfortunately, there are very few journalists today that appear to feel any shame or remorse that they are carrying water for China, a similarly hostile and totalitarian country that is carrying out genocide on religious and ethnic minorities, persecuting and jailing pro-democracy dissidents in Hong Kong, stealing intellectual property from American companies and government agencies, and infiltrating American universities and research institutions with military spies.
The press has the important right to freely report the news and question government officials, but with that right comes the responsibility to report fairly and to not actively harm the interests and safety of the American people. On both of those ethical duties, they have failed miserably and perhaps it’s time that they are held accountable.