The Bush administration is not alone in exercising restraint with China to protect business interests: the corporatemedia has also taken a mild tone. Despite China’s long history of human rights abuses, including its recentcrack-down on the Falun Gong spiritual movement, the U.S. media has noticeably refrained from spinning PresidentJiang Zemin into a Saddam Hussein, or a Milosevic. Much of the emphasis during the current spy plane stand-off hasinstead been on diplomacy.
While many progressives welcome this restraint, Danny Schechter argues in a column titled “Media Prostitutes andChina Coverage” that the diplomatic tone is due largely to the corporate media’s business interests in China.
The Murdochs are a prime example. Rupert Murdoch, who runs the Star satellite system in China (and also owns Foxnews) and his son James, who heads Murdoch’s News Corporation in Asia, have become famous for their pro-China bias.According to the New York Times, James Murdoch “stunned listeners” at a Milken Institute business conferencein Los Angeles when he called the Falung Gong an “apocalyptic cult” which “clearly does not have China’s interests atheart.” And Murdoch senior has described the Dalai Lama as “a very political old monk shuffling around in Guccishoes.” The London-based New Statesman wrote: “Murdoch is not falling for Chinese propaganda. He’s repeatingit word for word.”
Why the bias? The Murdoch’s plan to expand their investments and satellite distribution into the world’s largestmarket. They have already been rewarded for their biased coverage: two weeks ago the Independent reportedthat
Murdoch’s News Corporation had agreed to a $325m deal to take a 12.5 per cent stake in China Netcom, which isbuilding the country’s first broadband telecoms network. But Chinese law prevents foreign investors from owning anypart of the country’s basic telecoms network.
- Danny Schechter, Executive Editor of MediaChannel.org.