Proof can be heard or seen almost daily of Western liberal media bias against US President Donald J Trump and the People’s Republic of China. The two are the foremost targets of the liberal media’s unfairness and ill will like no others. They are regarded as foes to discredit, embarrass, undermine, and more.
This generates questions about how to view politics in the two countries, the critically important US-China relationship, and stability in global affairs. There is a lot at stake. There are clearly downsides to this situation.
The details are instructive.
President Donald J Trump is the primary bull’s eye of liberal media’s attacks. When did this begin? Why? How is it manifested?
This started when Donald Trump entered the race for president. The US mainstream media at first tried to ignore him. Then they came to fear and loathe him as he performed well during the campaign. This increased exponentially when he won the Republican Party’s nomination in spite of media disapproval and to a considerable degree because of it.
Donald Trump assailed leftist views; though he was not a conventional or establishment conservative — this was worse, since the media knew how to deal with Washington’s conservative insiders. Anyway, the liberal media heavily favored liberal Hillary Clinton.
Trump used social media, especially his Twitter account, to make newscasts that the liberal media assumed was its domain. Even more galling, as he was a presidential candidate, the liberal media had to cover his activities and discuss his agenda, thus giving him millions of dollars worth of free publicity.
Also troubling to the liberal media, Trump was part of a broader phenomenon present in many Western democracies — citizens repudiating big government bureaucracies (labeled insiders or the political class) that supported special interests, political correctness, and identity politics, thus giving rise to anti-establishment populism.
Donald Trump was also candid and blunt, which appealed heartedly to voters that perceived that Washington politicians were not transparent, were out-of-touch establishment figures, were corrupt, and did not have the majority of Americans at heart.
So the liberal media portrayed Donald Trump as being crude, lacking knowledge about politics, anti-freedom of the press, isolationist, protectionist, racist, misogynist, fascist, a warmonger, and almost everything negative it could think of.
This only got worse after Donald Trump was elected president.
Many of the things the liberal media said and wrote about Trump were mischaracterizations or untruths (or lies). This was considered okay because Donald Trump was their sworn enemy.
The media called the Trump administration secretive, even though it had already reported that former President Barack Obama was one of the most opaque politicians to sit in the Oval Office. Reporters had also noted that the Obama administration had set a record in withholding Freedom of Information requests and had used the Espionage Act against whistleblowers who leaked to the press more than all the previous administrations combined.
The liberal media made up news about President Trump. Early on The New York Times carried a story about Trump badly treating his girlfriends and interviewed one of them. She, Rowanne Brewer Lane, subsequently told Fox and Friends that the Times had misrepresented her, and that Trump was kind and thoughtful and was a gentleman.
A host of media outlets (Kellyanne Conway said more than a thousand) carried a news piece about Trump having removed the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office. The reporter that first wrote about this (which others copied without fact checking) admitted he had made a mistake. However, few in the media reported his retraction or that President Obama had removed the bust of Winston Churchill.
The media wrote that President Trump was a protectionist, even though US trade was already out of balance to the degree that it was unsustainable and endangered stable global commerce, and that Trump had proceeded to fix it.
The liberal media labeled Trump isolationist based on his “make American great again” slogan, notwithstanding the fact that his rebuilding the US military suggested just the opposite, or that he was refurbishing American alliances and building close personal relations with a host of important world leaders.
Liberals were obsessed to see President Trump fail. During his trip to Asia, almost in unison they propagated the view of his poor handling of foreign policy. However, Asian newspapers and media outlets said exactly the opposite. Many US news organizations reported that China’s leader President Xi Jinping had bamboozled President Trump, even though when in China Trump negotiated the largest economic deal ever for US companies.
The Western media said Trump had surrendered leadership of the world to China; the truth was America’s decline was already very palpable — the result of Middle East wars under Bush II and Obama, plus Obama leading from behind and dramatically cutting US defense spending. Also, never mind that this was a contradiction as the same media fancied downplaying China’s expanding global role.
This same US media supported an investigation of the Trump campaign over contacts with Russia that supposedly indicated the latter had influenced the results of the election — even though Russia had intruded into American politics for one hundred years, that other nations had certainly influenced US elections and America had tilted elections in other countries for years. Plus, the evidence indicated the Clintons and the Democratic Party had very questionable ties with Moscow.
The liberal Western media ignored President Trump’s accomplishments, such as putting economic growth back on track after eight years of low growth (no GDP rise of three percent during any year), a string of stock market records, the lowest US unemployment in 17 years, a million new jobs created in six months (pushing black and Hispanic unemployment to the lowest level ever recorded), the highest consumer confidence ratings for some time, and widespread new positive feelings about America.
Patently the mainstream media also underreported vital favorable news about President Trump. Considering its salience, the defeat of ISIS under Trump was the most slighted event of 2017. Likewise, little attention was given to Trump’s tax bill and its positive impact on the US and foreign stock markets and the global economy. Also, the anti-government protests in Iran, whose leadership President Trump had condemned, got little attention.
The lack of fairness toward President Trump mirrored the fact that around 90 percent of liberal media personnel were pro-Democratic Party and a disproportionate number had supported and/or had given money to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Never was the Western media so slanted.
President Trump and President Xi are aware of the fact the liberal Western media hate them both and would like to see them in conflict. They thus are making concerted efforts to avoid this.
Its blatant bias also paralleled, and caused, a decline in the public’s perception of the liberal media’s professionalism and its widespread loss of public confidence. In fact, Americans’ trust in the media dropped below most other institutions and professions.
China has been and is the second mark of the liberal Western media. Why is that?
It starts with the left’s view that China is a traditional and conservative country where liberal ideas espoused by the mainstream media in the US, and Europe are not taking hold and won’t. China, it is charged, will not “become like us.” China’s history and culture are too strong for that, not to mention that Chinese see their country as a past and even current victim of liberal Western countries.
More importantly, the Western mainstream media dreads China’s rise, seeing it as a threat to the liberal world order. In China, Western liberal democracy is not an ideology to admire or follow. Rather China is influenced by its history of defining world politics wherein economic influence trumps military power. Already the two financial centers of gravity (the Atlantic and Pacific bloc countries) have been fused into a China-centered one behind Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and its lead in manufacturing, trade, and foreign currency giving it new global influence.
A secondary impact and embarrassment of China’s global economic dominance is its overtaking Western countries in helping developing countries prosper. China has also been doing more to alleviate global poverty than any other country. Western countries cannot afford to help much any more; developing countries have said this publicly to the West’s embarrassment. Africa is the second fastest growing region of the world for the first time ever because of China’s foreign aid and investment.
China is likewise the main driver of planetary growth. According to the World Economic Union, China will account for 35.2 percent of the world’s real GDP growth from 2017 to 2019. The US will provide half of that — 17.9 percent. The European Union less than one-quarter of China — 7.9 percent. Japan will account for 1.5 percent and Russia 1.0 percent.
So, the Western liberal media attacks China citing a host of its foibles and sins.
It widely and regularly condemns China’s “authoritarian dictatorship.” Never mind that China’s polity historically was a system that operated for the people not of the people or by the people and that it has recently done a yeoman’s job of providing for its people — removing 650 to 700 million of them from poverty in the last three-plus decades. The government enjoys public popularity for this.
Forget also the fact that China, which was not historically a country of law, has made tremendous progress in that direction. China has also made big strides in citizen participation in politics. According to Pew Foundation polls, its government and leaders have greater citizen support by a wide margin than do the governments in the United States, Europe, or Japan. By the way, Chinese citizens comment on politics online more than their counterparts in Western countries.
The Western liberal media reports incessantly on the Chinese government’s alleged oppressive control of its people, mentioning almost daily its heavy regulation of the Internet and official overreach in controlling crime. They fail to mention, often at least, American and European citizens’ growing concern over the deep state at home or that there is widespread blowback against big government intrusiveness in the latter countries.
The liberal Western media frequently cites China for its repression of the population in Tibet. Seldom mentioned is the fact that China eradicated Tibet’s slave culture (or the fact the Dalai Lama was educated by Nazis) or that protest in Tibet is mostly against local capitalists and not the Chinese government. Because of its misreporting on the Tibet situation and other issues, anticnn.com a few years ago became the most popular website for the youth in China.
China is also castigated in the Western media for its terrible air pollution. Westerners have the impression that Chinese cities are the worst in the world in terms of air quality, when the most polluted cities are in the Middle East, India, and Africa. Beijing is far down the list at number 57 or 153 in the latest rankings. Considering there are various kinds of air pollution, Los Angeles ranks worse than most of China’s metropolitan cities.
The liberal media excoriates China for human rights abuses. Ignored is the fact that China’s record has improved immeasurably since the passing of Mao and his ultra-leftist, extreme egalitarian regime. Moreover, in terms of race relations, crimes against women, homelessness, the treatment of children and the elderly, public safety and using a number of other measures, China does better than the United States.
The Western media blasts China for cheating in its trade relations with other countries even though most countries in the world practice protectionism of some sort. China is singled out because it is bigger economically but also for its not being seen as politically correct. Forgotten is the fact that China’s trade surpluses increased big-time after it joined the World Trade Organization and that cases filed against China have not proven China to be a big violator. An inconvenient truth is that China is such a big competitor in trade mainly because of its work ethic, lower taxes and regulations, and fewer lawyers.
The liberal Western media also assails President Xi for having abolished collective leadership in favor of one-man dictatorial rule, ignoring the fact that a meritocracy put him in power while ruthlessness and purges did not. Nor do they mention that more central authority is needed to deal with corruption, lax military discipline, and more hostile enemies on the world stage that abhor China’s rise. The liberal Western media also gives little attention to President Xi’s concept of “community of common destiny” as the basis for China’s foreign relations though it is praised in non-Western countries.
Meanwhile, Hollywood and academe in the US, which are in league with the liberal media in their treatment of the Chinese, support racial discrimination in admission to America’s top universities (plus liberal professors deliberately give Chinese and other Asian lower grades in their classes than other minorities) while the Chinese are by design almost excluded from American movies and television.
In conclusion, it can hardly be said that the Western liberal media bias toward President Trump and toward China is a good thing.
One of the main effects of anti-Trump prejudice is that professional journalism in Western countries, which has long afforded positive and needed connections between the government and its citizens, has been sacrificed. Lost also is its role as the protector of fairness and justice. This is unfortunate.
This is also wrong. As Pope Francis recently stated: “Fake news is a sin.”
For China, both its citizens and its leaders, Western media bias is seen as part of an effort to contain China, to keep China down, and to prevent it from playing a bigger role in international affairs — one that is in keeping with its economic and other advances. Chinese see it as the revival of imperialism, racism and worse.
Many also view Western liberal media bias as likely to bring the US and China into conflict. In fact, it has been said that the liberal Western media is so obsessed with destroying President Trump and obstructing China’s continuing rise that its members think a war between the US and China might be a good thing. It would be “killing two birds with one stone.”
On the other hand, this situation may be one of a “two-edged sword.” There is also a positive side to the situation.
In his recently published book Destined for War, Graham Allison argues that, learning from the history of the Peloponnesian wars in ancient Greece and most of the major wars since then, the condition of a dominant status quo power and a rising challenging power is the recipe that explains major wars that followed. Not only that, but the relationship between the US (the status quo power) and China (the rising power, alas the very fast rising power) now suggests a US-China war will inevitably result and it will engulf the entire planet.
President Trump and President Xi seem acutely aware of this situation and seek to avoid a conflict. They are also aware of the fact the liberal Western media hate them both and would like to see them in conflict. They thus are making concerted efforts to avoid this.
There is cause for optimism. US-China relations have moved from being worse during the later years of the Obama presidency than at any time since President Nixon engineered a rapprochement between the two countries to the two leaders being cordial and communicating effectively.
Could it be that the intolerance and the hatred espoused by the liberal Western media toward Donald Trump and China might turn out to be a good thing? That would be a great irony.