Ed Driscoll

The Manchurian Media

In 1962, director John Frankenheimer released his classic film, The Manchurian Candidate. While the film is a precursor to future paranoid political films such as Robert Redford’s Three Days of the Condor and Oliver Stone’s JFK, The Manchurian Candidate plays more like a Hitchcock thriller, but its subtext is made clear when a Democratic Senator based on Adlai Stevenson visits a cocktail party put on by Eleanor Shaw Iselin (played by Angela Lansbury) as a precursor to a presidential bid by her husband, a parody of Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy named John Iselin. The liberal Democrat replies coldly, “There are people who think of Johnny as a clown and a buffoon, but I do not. I despise John Iselin and everything that Iselinism has come to stand for. I think, if John Iselin were a paid Soviet agent, he could not do more to harm this country than he’s doing now.” In the paranoid Manchurian Candidate, Eleanor and John Iselin are Soviet agents.

Glenn Reynolds of PJM’s sister site Instapundit coined the phrase, “Think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense,” to explain their bias to the left, and quadrennial open boosterism for a Democratic presidential candidate:

Setting aside their now sclerotic pose of objectivity, journalists siding with an American political party is nothing new; there’s a reason why the nation is dotted by decades-old newspapers called the Springfield Democrat or the Shelbyville Republican. But in 2005, the left aisle of the media went all-in on their coverage of Katrina to tank George W. Bush’s presidency. As Mickey Kaus wrote in 2005, “In short, Katrina gives [the media] a way to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq. No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the ‘inner smile.’” And it worked! After the 2006 midterms, Bryan Preston, then with Hot Air, wrote:

What cost the GOP its majorities in Congress and statehouses? Nancy Pelosi and her wing of the Democrats are running around as though the elections validated their hard left view of the war and the world, but according to James Carville’s Democracy Corps, this election did no such thing. What cost the GOP its power? Iraq? Foley? Look at page 6 of Democracy Corps’ post-election report. The GOP’s fortunes fatally cratered in the Fall of 2005, and were recovering ever since minus a couple of blips this year. What happened in the Fall of ‘05?

Katrina. That storm turned out to be the hurricane that changed history.

As Preston wrote, “Combine 9-11 and Katrina, and the Bush administration has had to deal with two of the worst disasters in American history, one brought on by foreign aggression that was years in the making, and one the wrath of nature.” Bush’s low post-Katrina public approval severely hurt John McCain’s chances of succeeding him, paving the way for Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

In 2013, former vice-chair of the DNC Donna Brazile would confess that “Bush came through on Katrina,” at no less than CNN. But that was long after the Democratic Party used their crazed media coverage to retake both houses of Congress, and ultimately the White House.

Interparty rumbles and leftists using bad news to consolidate power are nothing new in America. And once again, the media has dusted off the Katrina playbook in an effort to oust The Bad Orange Man. But with the recent coronavirus outbreak, we see the American media are also now doing the dirty work of the rulers of Communist China.

Last Thursday, the Media Research Center assembled a video clip of the media melting down over Republicans correctly noting the origin region of the coronavirus, screaming that it’s rrrraaaaaccccccism and/or xenophobia to refer to it as either “the Chinese Coronavirus”  or “the Wuhan Virus” – along with 35 times the media referred to the virus as “the Chinese Coronavirus”  or “the Wuhan Virus.”

Over the past week, NBC ran such headlines as:

The New York Times ran the following headline:

At National Interest last week, Fred Lucas wrote: “China is In Denial About Coronavirus—Here’s What You Should Know”:

More than just dodging responsibility, the Chinese government reportedly has pushed propaganda that the United States started the virus.

The Washington Post reported last week that China’s communist government was promoting conspiracy theories online about U.S. involvement.

“In recent days, run-of-the-mill mockery of the White House has taken a darker turn as the Chinese internet became inundated by the theory, subtly stoked by the Chinese government, that the coronavirus originated in the United States,” the newspaper said. “The U.S. government, one version of the theory goes, has been covering up mounting cases, and perhaps thousands of deaths, by classifying them as regular flu.”

There have been false internet rumors in the United States about China as well, but there is a clear difference, said Dean Cheng, senior research fellow for Asian studies at The Heritage Foundation.

“The problem here is that this seems to be echoes of Soviet information warfare,” Cheng told The Daily Signal. “America has a free press, from CNN to Alex Jones, The New York Times, and the National Enquirer. China’s press is state run. So these rumors are not random charges.”

The goal of the Chinese government is to define the virus as being as distant from government leaders and the Communist Party as possible, Cheng said.

And the DNC-MSM is apparently happy to play along, to simultaneously fill column inches, and bash the Bad Orange Man: “CNN Plays the ‘That’s Racist’ Card on Virus, Forgets Own History,” Jeffrey Lord writes at NewsBusters:

The Chinese government says calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan Virus” is racist.

Specifically, The Global Times, which Wikipedia describes as “a daily tabloid newspaper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, commenting on international issues from a nationalistic perspective” headlines this: “Labeling China as a ‘disease incubator’ is unscientific and racist: experts.”

The Chinese Communist paper says this:

“Regionalizing pandemics is not only unscientific and potentially racist, but also ignores China’s contribution of research progress in infectious disease control around the world, they stressed.”

And faster than you can say “identity politics,” CNN abruptly began to toe the Chinese Communist party line. One CNNer after another began saying that, yes indeed, the phrase “Wuhan Virus” or “Chinese Virus” is….racist.

In addition to NBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, the Atlantic has piled on as well. At the Federalist, Madeline Osburn writes,The Atlantic Must Stop Covering For The Chinese Communist Party:”

Instead of investigating or writing about China’s propaganda machine working in real time as we watch the virus rapidly spread across the globe, journalists at The Atlantic are more interested in writing their own pro-China, anti-American virus hot takes. Here are the receipts.

Disputing the name “Wuhan virus” is China’s first big hurdle in distancing themselves from the virus. They would much prefer “coronavirus” or the scientific name “COVID-19,” despite the fact that scientists and doctors have a long-held practice of naming a new disease after a population or the site of its first major outbreak. So of course one of the easiest positions for The Atlantic to publish was: Wuhan = bad, COVID-19 = good, and for good measure, blame the name discrepancy on “conservatives” deploying “racist tropes.”

And that article was written before the Atlantic’s David Frum tweeted, “nobody calls the 1919-20 pandemic the Spanish flu anymore,” leading to half of Twitter searching his tweets and uncovering a 2016 tweet from Frum, possibly written to commemorate expressionist painter Egon Schiele (1890–1918), about whom Frum tweeted, “A great artist. War-debilitated, he fell victim to Spanish flu not yet 30.”

This isn’t an entirely new development for America’s media. As Fox News reported last year, “Washington Post publishes special advertising section pushing ‘propaganda’ for communist China:”

Washington Post readers were treated to an eight-page “advertising supplement” on Thursday touting the achievements and talking points of the Chinese government in a section of the paper that’s off-limits to Post editors.

The special section, dubbed “ChinaWatch,” came with a warning declaring, “Content in this advertising section was prepared by China Daily, and did not involve the news or opinion staff of The Washington Post.”

China Daily is owned by the Communist Party of China. Regular readers of the Post have seen similar sections in the past, and countries such as Russia have published similar sections in other papers, but Thursday’s version raised eyebrows as China’s ruling Communist Party has been in the news for a variety of topics amid a trade war with President Trump.

As a result of both wanting to maintain datelines from China, and funding for “advertising supplements” such as “ChinaWatch,” “The American media is in a Chinese finger-trap,” prolific tweeter Stephen “Redsteeze” Miller writes at Spectator USA:

Why are major media outlets in the United States running interference for the Chinese government? Several newspapers and cable news channels scrambled to decry any use of ‘Wuhan Virus’ as xenophobic and racist, after weeks of deploying the term themselves. This appeared to be a coordinated effort to deflect blame from China.

We hear a lot of whining from the press when they’re dubbed the ‘enemy of the people’. Frankly, the regular grandstanding of reporters like CNN’s Jim Acosta who use their airtime to self-promote isn’t behavior deserving of this label — annoying though it may be. But when news outlets parrot the Chinese government and shield them from any responsibility for the global pandemic, under the guise of political correctness or distaste for the current administration, the moniker seems a lot more fitting.

And despite all of their efforts at carrying the ball for Red China, “Beijing to oust US reporters from NYT, WashPo, Wall St Journal from China and bar them from journalism in Hong Kong,” the Hong Kong Free Press reported today, thus greatly ensuring that what we’ll be hearing out of China on their efforts to combat the coronavirus is state propaganda. (What could go wrong?)

I’m pretty sure that John Frankenheimer didn’t intend for The Manchurian Candidate to be a how-to guide. But if the media were paid Chinese agents, could they do more to harm this country than they’re already doing now?