Saturday, April 22, 2006

Necessary Edits

China's President Hu made an historic visit to Washington last week, ending the four-day event with a ceremony at Yale that was marked by a series of unfortunate "gaffes": a heckler infiltrated ranks of the welcoming committee, a White House announcer misnamed China's national anthem, Mr. Bush awkwardly corrected a misdirected exit by grabbing at the Chinese President's arm, and finally, a state dinner was refused in the interest of withholding the "official" status of a state visit for the Chinese dignitary. All these amount to what the NYTimes was willing to call "small gaffes" while it yet acknowledged the difficulty raised in the accumulation:

The protocol problems may have had more resonance than the nature of the small slights would suggest because Mr. Hu's visit did not achieve any significant breakthroughs and the Chinese always emphasize careful staging of major political events.

"President Bush, Vice President Cheney and many cabinet members have come to China in recent years and they were not subjected to embarrassing episodes of this kind," said Pang Zhongying, a Chinese foreign relations specialist and former Foreign Ministry official. "For ordinary Chinese I'm afraid this kind of thing will not be easy to explain."

The next passage in the report most caught my attention, however: "There was no mention of the incidents in domestic Chinese news media reports, which continued to have an overwhelmingly positive tone, and video clips shown inside China were edited to exclude the miscues."

Do we want to believe that only video clips shown in China are edited to manage reactions that might be prompted by domestic news media? Is it possible that media reports in the United States are comparably "managed"? Is it likely? Do we want to believe it?

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1 comment:

Winston said...

Are media reports "managed" in the US? Absolutely.
Do we want to believe it? Of course not.

Some will say that it is impossible since there are so many citizens walking around with cameras, videocams, etc. Most of what ordinary citizens could capture, the gov't doesn't care about anyway. And when the occasional slip does occur, the photographer and pix are quickly and quietly discredited as hoaxes, nutcases, etc. Or, the footage is just confiscated and disappears, to be quickly forgotten by short-memoried Americans.

Never forget, Mary, that Big Bro is not only watching, but in full control of everything that Big Bro considers important.