Right on schedule, here is our Op-Ed on the eve of
Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize
December 8, 2010 (CSN) -- This week has the world-notable occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
The entire Chinese democracy movement should be demanding an apology of Western policy makers and media Managing Editors.
This Op-Ed could be submitted to the mainstream 'news' outlets, but we already know how those outlets have been with CSN and with the Chinese dissidents for the past decade. I have described the relationship between U.S. media and U.S. politicians as the corrupt, flacking for the corrupt.
Legacy news media are on the ropes, and desperately need a 'reset moment.' That, for more reasons than just the Chinese democracy movement. (The current Wikileaks episode reveals both the corruption and the flacking, which serves to validate that my observation holds true, even in matters away from the Free China cause. Meanwhile on national leadership, the U.S. President has painted himself into a corner and the media has climbed ever further out on a limb.)
The China Support Network can say to the MSM: We don't believe in you any more. There is more to be expected of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy than from the high and mighty figures who (mis) manage their narratives in the public discourse, while posing as "objective journalists."
The tragic and bloody massacre at Tiananmen Square of 1989 -- ordered by China's government, conducted by the army -- tore at the heart strings of the public and policy makers alike, while inspiring other freedom fighters such as those in Eastern Europe (where the Berlin Wall came down later in 1989). Chinese students could feel short changed because they pushed and yet it was East Germans who got freedom that year.
Did the news media report the massacre? Yes, definitely. In fact, they had coverage of the inspiring, student-led uprising for seven weeks before that massacre. Because the uprising was that lengthy, there was lots of time for word to reach the West, and for all talking heads of the news media to digest and analyze the movement. Television coverage was so riveting that Pew Research reported 45% of Americans were "closely following" the political turmoil in China.
When the army killed some 3,000 people and finally reached the square, this jaw dropping atrocity was a tragedy on television. Similar to Asia's tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina, or Haiti's earthquake -- tragedies motivate the kind hearted to respond. My fellow Americans and I launched the China Support Network. Soon, we were working shoulder-to-shoulder with leading Chinese dissidents.
Think tanks, and the Senate Joint Leadership, and the Republican National Committee all reached out to the newly-exiled dissidents. One, Wu'er Kaixi, was mobbed by women. The China Support Network co-managed his first week in Washington, along with other dissidents. And when news reporters wanted the daybook, or scheduling requests, they called the China Support Network, as a "go-to" organization. I know these stories because I personally accompanied Wu'er Kaixi; I wrote releases, alerts, and advisories; and I fielded those phone calls with media requests. In that week, we got the ear of former Senators Bob Dole and George Mitchell, but not the U.S. President and executive branch.
In fact, the Chinese dissidents had a presence in the news media throughout the 1990s. America's Managing Editors have played a trick. "Now you see them, now you don't" is the trick specifically. One decade the democracy movement had a voice; and the next decade, there was no voice for the pro-democracy people; the true heroes of freedom and human rights.
The 2000s were a time of stories getting squashed. A time of the media's blind eye for human rights abuse. Even while China ramped up its Falun Gong crackdown and added new ones: the Tibetan crackdown of 2008, and the Uighur crackdown of 2009. Squashed stories include dissident opposition to the PNTR free trade deal between the U.S. and China; all word of the Falun Gong crackdown that is still going today; and, the hideous story that China uses Falun Gong prisoners as the unwilling source for organ harvesting and transplant surgery.
Oh, was this supposed to be an Op-Ed about Liu Xiaobo? --Well, in a way, it is. This is an Op-Ed about what became of his cause. This is an Op-Ed about the cause of freedom, democracy, and human rights -- and, how it is received in the U.S. news media.
It is as though U.S. Managing Editors have a message for Chinese people: Death for you is fine by them.