Media Snivels Before China During Olympics

Media Snivels Before China During Olympics

Media Snivels Before China During Olympics

The Beijing Olympics have begun, and no one but the media apparently cares about it.

NBC, which has exclusive rights to the Olympics, started their coverage off with outright simpering and sucking up to the Chinese Communist Party. As Kim noted here, an Uyghur athlete was chosen by China to light the Olympic torch during the opening ceremonies. Savannah Guthrie of NBC’s Today show called it an “in your face response” from Xi Jinping to the West. Does she HEAR herself???

Today show coanchor Savannah Guthrie provided credulous commentary on the (alleged) selection of a Uyghur athlete from Xinjiang province to light the Olympic torch.”

“This moment is quite provocative. It’s a statement from the Chinese president Xi Jinping,” said Guthrie. “It is an in-your-face response to those Western nations, including the U.S., who have called this Chinese treatment of [Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang] genocide and diplomatically boycotted these games.”

The video of Guthrie saying this was yanked off Twitter due to NBC claiming copyright issues, but can be seen and heard embedded in this video.

It’s truly gross to hear an American media figure talk of Xi Jinping as pulling off some kind of power flex by choosing a Uyghur athlete to light the torch. Here’s a question for Savannah Guthrie – did this athlete have ANY CHOICE in the matter? This is the same country, after all, that “disappeared” tennis player Peng Shuai until she was put out to do her propaganda videos. Why would any responsible media simply take China’s actions at face value?

Oh, that’s right. Money and access. My bad, I forgot. And moral equivalency is the name of the game at Disney-owned ESPN. After all, the United States has problems – why should we be throwing stones at China for genocide and ethnic cleansing?

During Friday’s “Around the Horn,” host Tony Reali kicked off the conversation highlighting the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing as the CCP commits genocide of the Uyghur Muslims, asking J.A. Adande, the director of sports journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, “As a fan and as a reporter, how do you reconcile enjoying this competition” while such abuses by China are taking place.”

“I think it’s standard in sports right now- you have to have a cognitive dissonance. You need to compartmentalize,” Adande responded. “We’ve never had a more enjoyable NFL Playoffs in this country and we’ve never had more people watching the playoffs, and yet it goes on amid the ongoing allegations against Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team, and, you know, the continuous concussion concerns, and now the concerns about diversity in the allegations and questions about competitive integrity even, all of that, and yet we’re still enjoying the games.”

“And who are we to criticize China’s human rights records when we have ongoing attacks by the agents of the state against unarmed citizens and we’ve got assaults on the voting rights of our people of color in various states in this country. So sports – I think it is possible and it’s necessary more than ever to just shut everything out if you are to enjoy the actual games themselves,” Adande told Reali.”

I don’t think Xi Jinping could have said it better than Adande did. Will ESPN or Disney decline to put Adande back on the air as a guest because of his sucking up to Communist Chinese policy? Of course not! Disney is desperate to keep the Chinese market open to them and selling movies and product there (aside from Xi’s personal nemesis Winnie the Pooh, anyway). Xi should just hire Adande to represent China on these sports shows and just make it official.

The only good news here is that the American people are largely tuning out the Beijing Olympics – which is not good news for NBC.

Now, there are multiple causes for the drop in viewership. NBC is probably loath to admit it, but people are ditching traditional cable for streaming services in order to cut costs and get what they want. While NBC will show the highlights of the Olympic Games in primetime, the live showing of the events on their Peacock streaming service is limited to their “premium” tier. As in, only those paying subscribers will be able to see it live. In this era, the fact that we have the ability to watch the Olympics live, no matter the time zone, should be a draw for viewers. But by locking down the stream to only premium subscribers, NBC is trying to create exclusivity in a media world that will receive the Twitter update on who won the event, and then if they care, will catch up on the highlights on YouTube hours later. And the worst part is, NBC has the exclusive rights to the Olympics for TEN MORE YEARS. They are desperate to draw eyes, but how do they do that when China allows no live audience, and most of the American media coverage, including most of the color commentators, are in Connecticut and not Beijing?

NBC has dug themselves quite a hole between their restrictive coverage, their laser focus on the glossy shell of Chinese authoritarianism covering actual human rights abuses, and the absolute lack of Olympic buzz among the American public. I hope they enjoy the next two weeks of trying to sell the public on these Winter Olympic games.

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Featured image: Scazon on Flickr, cropped, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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