Better Off Red?
Twenty Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Recalling the Liberal Media's Blindness to the Evils of Communism

Journalists Distressed by China's Shift Towards Capitalism

Starting in the 1980s, the communist government in China began instituting economic reforms that moved away from state control of the economy and towards a more market-based system that includes private property and even foreign investment. But the government of China remained firmly under the control of the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army, a fact underscored by the government’s killing of several hundred pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

Even though China is still ruled by a one-party dictatorship, journalists seem more distressed by the move towards a capitalist economy. Reporters fret about the “gap between rich and poor,” and the new burdens capitalism places on a “once-pampered work force.” As for the lack of democracy, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently marveled at the “great advantages” of China’s “enlightened” one-party rule. And some journalists reacted to the bloody attack in Tiananmen Square with astonishing relativism, inanely equating it to the shooting at Kent State or the problem of under-funded schools.

“Will the military leaders there be embarrassed by this [the Tiananmen Square massacre]. Will this be something like Kent State was for our military?”
— CBS reporter Eric Engberg on Nightwatch, June 7, 1989.

“Thousands may have been gunned down in Beijing, but what about the millions of American kids whose lives are being ruined by an enormous failure of the country’s educational system....We can and we should agonize about the dead students in Beijing, but we’ve got a much bigger problem here at home.”
— John Chancellor’s commentary on NBC Nightly News, June 20, 1989.  [Audio/video (0:36): Windows Media | MP3 audio]

“Deng emerged from retirement and launched a campaign for more and faster capitalist-style reform....The burst of development brought with it many of the evils the communists had sought to eradicate: corruption, inflation, a growing gap between rich and poor.”
— CNN’s Mike Chinoy reviewing dictator Deng Xiaoping’s life on Prime News, Feb. 19, 1997.

“For all of China’s economic success, much of the vast country is still either desperately poor or suffering from the excesses of runaway capitalism — or both.”
Newsweek’s Bill Powell, March 3, 1997.

“In a way, the business boom here fueled today’s protest. A thin layer of the top of Chinese society has made tons of money, but the masses have been left behind and increasingly lack of housing and unemployment makes those at the bottom very restless. That’s why some 200 people boldly demonstrated for about three hours today in a symbolic park in the heart of Beijing.”
— Dan Rather reporting from Beijing for the June 20, 1997 CBS Evening News.

“In the good old days, the Communist Party found a job for everyone. Now young people have to fend for themselves....The future of the Communist Party may be in doubt if it can’t ease the pain felt by the once-pampered work force.”
— NBC reporter Chris Billing from Beijing on the February 13, 2000 NBC Nightly News.

“Workers’ Rights Suffering as China Goes Capitalist.”
— Headline over front-page New York Times story by Erik Eckholm about low-paid workers employed by private and foreign companies in China, August 22, 2001.

“One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, September 9, 2009.

Previous: Whitewashing the Communist Record on Human Rights
Next: North Korea: Singing Along with Diane Sawyer

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