Did I expect the self-proclaimed top bloggers of the English-language greater-China blogosphere to mention this AP article from Monday on Chinese harassment of the foreign press there? ESWN? no. Rebecca MacKinnon? no. Hey, do pigs fly? Did the Chinese masses rise up and put an end to the now almost-universally condemned Glorious Proletarian Cultural Revolution? Remember, the top dogs have media narratives to keep alive that China is changing and Western media spreads "the China hate".
Western reporters in China have received harassing phone calls, e-mails and text messages, some with death threats, supposedly from ordinary Chinese complaining about alleged bias in coverage of recent anti-Chinese protests in Tibet.
The harassment began two weeks ago and was largely targeted at foreign television broadcasters, CNN in particular. But the campaign broadened in recent days after the mobile phone numbers and other contact information for reporters from The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today were posted on several Web sites, including a military affairs chat site.
Of course the support that the patriotic mainland netizens have been receiving from the state-owned media is a win-win situation for the CCP. On the one hand it rallies the patriotic netizens to support the "nationalist" and "vicitimisation" media narratives long pushed by the CCP. On the other, if the netizens get out of hand and start issuing death threats, the CCP then says, "see, this is what happens when the Chinese internet is given too much freedom, like you Westerners always protest about. We need to filter the Chinese internet to protect society from the eeeeee-vil tendencies there."
Even more interesting is the whole media narrative of selectively attacking the Western media. First, you can spot the acceptance that the mainland Chinese don't believe the state-owned Chinese media is really telling the truth. So the balance is to project the "150 years of foreign victimisation" media narrative in order to drive up the negatives of the Western media to the level that they are distrusted by mainlanders as much as they distrust the CCP's mouthpieces.
This of course is nothing new. Brent Bozzell in the US is one of the pioneers of this narrative to "work the referees". He's been at this game for decades and is one of the primary architects of the notion of a "liberal media" in the United States.
One group of netizens who are infamous in the US for acting as an ultra-conservative mob to swarm objectionable articles and polls are the residents of Free Republic, who go by the name of "freepers". When the professor of online media seemed clueless in this post on anti-cnn and tibet about freeping a CNN poll, I just laughed. Proves that qualifications for professors of this stuff just have to have the right pedigree and not actually have a clue about what actually happens on the internet. Looking at the google results, this is a tactic and term that's been in widespread online use well before the 2004 US Presidential elections and was used in the 2000 US Republican Presidential primaries. p.s. CNN often pulls polls that are being obviously freeped.
The last time that we mentioned the Freepers here at Daai Tou Laam Diary was when one of their own, Chad Castagana, was held for mailing "white powder" and threats to various "liberal" media figures like Keith Olbermann. Sound familiar to what's going on in China now?
Now back to the AP article, because I have one complaint and one more observation with it.
Complaints by Chinese have largely centered on Western media outlets that either cropped or captioned photographs and footage in ways some Chinese have found misleading. Several Web sites, for example, showed photographs of Indian or Nepali police forcefully detaining Tibetan demonstrators but misidentified them as Chinese security forces.
Actually the photographs were not mis-captioned. They were just used next to stories about Chinese cracking down on Tibetans. Score one for "working the refs" and score one for the CCP's tactics of media control, especially photo journalists.
Also illuminating is the pattern of which media is being targeted for being worked over. So far, it's almost exclusively the US, British, and German press. The Indian media has been far more critical and skeptical of China, but the Indian government has been far more subservient than government officials in the US, UK and Germany. Understand the connection?