by Ben Johnson
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Washington Post is one of the most respected names in all of journalism, but critics say it has put its credibility on the auction block by partnering with the Chinese and Russian governments to reprint foreign propaganda under its masthead.
The controversy swirls around the publication of China Watch, a news supplement inserted into the newspaper. The Washington Post logo appears alongside its own, and China Watch‘s website is hosted on WaPo‘s server. However, most of its stories are produced by China Daily, an English-language “newspaper” with offices in Beijing. It is heavily censored by the Communist Chinese regime, with stories carefully chosen to advance the party line and the nation’s geostrategic interests.
Both the real and virtual editions of the publication contain the words, “A Paid Supplement to The Washington Post” – in much smaller print. Online, the words are just above a story on a program to teach LGBT activists to make documentary films and an ad for China Daily, inviting readers to “Click to open a window to the world.”
The owners and editors of The Washington Post “are lending their logo to this foreign propaganda,” Cliff Kincaid, director of Accuracy In Media‘s Center for Investigative Journalism, told LifeSiteNews.com. “If you didn’t know where this comes from, it looks like a regular newspaper.”
The Post runs a similar service for Russia called Russia Now.
The Chinese government, Kincaid said, is “using the logo of The Washington Post to create the impression this is like any other section of The Washington Post.”
“If you do your digging you can find out this is paid propaganda, and they’re use using the Post,” he added.
That is readily apparent from the way China Watch covers the brutal one-child policy, which often results in compulsory abortion. A 2009 story entitled “Nation stems population tide” by Li Xing contends, “The country’s one-child policy has ensured that the fruits of fast growth benefit all the people.”
The “news” supplement credited the anti-natalist policy with “reducing the tremendous pressure on natural resources and the environment, for stimulating economic development and social growth, and for enabling most people to move out of poverty.” Its source: Li Bin, minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission.
Wen Zhanshan, now 66, reminisced with Xing about how he used to create population control posters in the city of Harbin adorned with phrases like, “It is better to breed more pigs than children.” Today, the posters say, “Our mother earth is too tired to support too many children.”
The story notes at the bottom that Sun Hongfen of the a regional Population and Family Planning Bureau – a branch of the Chinese government – “contributed” to the story.
Another China Watch article discusses a panel on women’s issues, which raised the possibility that surviving children, spoiled by their grandparents, had developed a “Little Emperor” complex. “These kids might be spoiled, but they are also the repository of all their parents’ dreams,” said Amy Chua, a contributor to The Daily Beast and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother .“These ‘spoiled brats’ work extremely hard.”
A web search located zero articles about Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident under house arrest for exposing the nation’s population policies.
Experts have questioned the ethics of the Post‘s relationship with Beijing. “They need to address the proverbial elephant in the living room – why are you carrying a Communist government-sponsored publication?” Lois Boynton, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, told The Washington Free Beacon.
Fred Hiatt, the Post’s editorial page editor, told the Free Beacon “the material is clearly labeled” and the newspaper had run negative “editorials on China, human rights, [and] the importance of democratic development in China both for Chinese people and for the world.”
However, in February the Post‘s ombudsman took it to task for reprinting “propaganda” in its own pages. In February, Patrick Pexton accused his paper of ”Caving to China’s Demands” for posting an “interview” with Chinese vice president Xi Jinping. Instead of answering journalists’ questions, the Post revealed, “the Chinese government modified, deleted, and added questions to those The Post submitted.” Pexton called it “more press release or propaganda than news.”
Kincaid told LifeSiteNews.com there is a simple reason the paper is partnering with governments that curtail freedom of the press: “The Washington Post wants the money. It’s simply a matter of bucks.”
“We’ve been covering for quite some time that The Washington Post the newspaper is losing a lot of money,” he said, leading to what he describes as a murky relationship with the for-profit school Kaplan University.
Kincaid said the fact that the Post is “taking this money directly from a foreign government” is “significant,” but the greater outrage is that an American newspaper would give cover to foreign governments, which he said are stepping up their operations in the United States.
He cited the operations of Al-Jazeera English (which is heavily funded by the government of Qatar), Iranian Press TV, and Russia Today as companies with high production values that are less than free news outlets.
“These foreign propaganda organs are increasing their influence and operations in the U.S., and that’s what we see in these advertising supplements. It’s just another aspect of their propaganda wars within the United States.”