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

North Korea: Singing Along with Diane Sawyer

Along with Cuba, North Korea is one of the last totally communist nations, with an entirely state-owned economy. The human tragedy caused by this regime is monumental. Over the past decade, as many as two million North Koreans have died from famine. In a 2009 report, Amnesty International found “widespread violations of human rights” in North Korea, “including politically motivated and arbitrary use of detention and executions, and severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and movement.”

North Korea’s communist regime does not receive the sympathetic coverage that Cuba enjoys, but in 2005, CNN founder Ted Turner tried to defend the regime’s human rights record. In 2006, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer led North Korean schoolchildren in a bizarre sing-along, a warm and fuzzy photo-op that buried the reality of everyday life.

Ted Turner: “I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. You know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time.”
Wolf Blitzer: “But this is one of the most despotic regimes and [North Korean dictator] Kim Jong-il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?”
Turner: “Well, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look — in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people.”
Blitzer: “But look at the way he’s treating his own people.”
Turner: “Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but-”
Blitzer: “A lot of those people are starving.”
Turner: “I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality....”
— CNN’s The Situation Room, September 19, 2005.  [Audio/video (0:56): Windows Media | MP3 audio]

Diane Sawyer: “It is a world away from the unruly individualism of any American school....Ask them about their country, and they can’t say enough.”
North Korean girl, in English: “We are the happiest children in the world.”
Sawyer to class: “What do you know about America?”
Sawyer voiceover: “We show them an American magazine. They tell us, they know nothing about American movies, American movie stars....and then, it becomes clear that they have seen some movies from a strange place....”
Sawyer to class: “You know The Sound of Music?”
Voices: “Yes.”
Sawyer, singing with the class: “Do, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun....”
Charles Gibson: “A fascinating glimpse of North Korea.”
— Sawyer reporting from North Korea for ABC’s World News, October 19, 2006.  [Audio/video (1:08): Windows Media | MP3 audio]

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