Media mendacity on Taiwan, December 24, 2009
Jennings can't read?
Earlier today via Twitter user anitaworld, I came across the latest piece of anti-Taiwan propaganda from Reuters. The headline reads:
One hurt, six detained in Taiwan scuffle over ChinaThe average reader might not have any idea what's beneath that headline. Is Taiwan "fighting to take over China" or something? Since only a small percentage of people read past the headline, it only serves to create confusion about the situation.
Here's what's going on: The Taiwanese protesters are standing up for their sovereignty while deals compromising Taiwan's sovereignty are being signed by two authoritarian parties without the people's consent. But Reuters fails to provide you any of that information which is vital to understanding the story.
Although a scant few more details appear within the article, those details are obscured by a mess of unhelpful memes and outright smearing of the victims in this matter, thus canceling any value they might have otherwise contained.
The anatomy of mendacity
The article begins:
TAIPEI (Reuters) - A police officer was hurt and six people detained late on Wednesday during a protest against a visit by China's top negotiator to Taiwan, officials said.There goes Ralph Jennings (whose byline appears at the bottom of the article) phoning it in from Taipei yet again. If he could read (or maybe a quote by Upton Sinclair is what applies here), the Tuesday December 22, 2009 edition of the Taipei Times (that's two days ago) would have informed him of this violence by police:
It was the first violence in four days of protests against the visit of Beijing negotiator Chen Yunlin in Taichung, central Taiwan.
A Taichung City policeman was penalized yesterday for using pepper spray on two protesters on Sunday night, but the police said his demerit was for carrying non-standard equipment rather than for assaulting the protesters, adding that he acted in self-defense.Don't mace me, 兄弟!
The actual incident mentioned above took place four days ago (Sunday, December 20, 2009). "[F]irst violence," my ass! The police were the ones who drew "first blood"! Jennings isn't telling you the truth.
Getting back to the Reuters piece, Jennings feeds the readers generalities:
Also on Wednesday, protesters tried to stop Chen from visiting a temple, taunting police that have guarded every step of his December 21-25 visit, local media reported.Jennings fails to answer some essential questions for the readers: Who were the protesters? (Were they members of the violent China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP, 中華統一促進黨), members of the peaceful Falun Gong movement, common hooligans, or simply citizens of Taiwan who don't want an authoritarian regime to take over their lives?); Why were the protesters there? (Chen Yunlin has previously threatened Taiwan, and he and his comrades are currently trying to annex Taiwan.); How did they try to stop Chen Yunlin? (Did they use weapons [sticks, stones, knives, guns, Molotov cocktails]? [No.], or did they just stand at the scene, hold up signs, and shout? [Yes.]); Which temple was this, and does it have any special significance? (Could it be Chenlan Temple, a temple which is run by a convicted criminal? [Yes!]); Which local media? (I dunno. Jennings doesn't/won't specify.)
Can you feel just how empty of any actual information that paragraph of the article is? He could have used that space much more efficiently if he had instead explained some of the facts to the readers. Ben Goren's blog Letters from Taiwan has a good list from which lazy reporters could simply copy and paste some terse, well-researched facts about Taiwan.
The generalities above are followed directly by this meme:
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.The full name of the party Jennings is referring to is the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) -- not just the "Nationalists." They fled to Taiwan to save their own asses from Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Commie bandits (共匪), not to "save Taiwan," as is often purported by those who support the Chinese KMT's authoritarianism.
More importantly, China's "claim" has no legal basis, but Jennings doesn't keep my italicized phrase in his clipboard where he could easily paste it into the article to at least provide some semblance of "balance." And there he goes with that faux-honest "the island" formulation yet again, trying to undermine the fact that Taiwan is an independent country with a population slightly higher than that of the entire "island continent" of Australia (never just "the island [of Australia]").
The article ends with these two paragraphs full of copy-and-paste "journalism" and a byline:
As ties warm under Taiwan's Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, economic powerhouse China and the export-reliant island agreed on Tuesday to negotiate a trade deal that would cut tariffs.FOX News Taiwan?
Protesters oppose closer ties between the governments.
(Reporting by Ralph Jennings; Editing by David Fox)
Let's take down the troubling elements one by one.
Note the positive words ascribed to China and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九): warm, friendly, powerhouse. Note the diminutives ascribed to Taiwan: reliant, island.
What the protesters oppose is not any sort of ties between "governments." What they oppose is unequal party-to-party negotiations taking place behind closed doors with no opposition oversight whatsoever and which evidence shows to be a series of steps leading up to Taiwan's annexation by two authoritarian regimes working hand-in-hand.
How many average readers would have noticed these things upon first reading them? Far too many ordinary people have become numb to this kind of garbage that passes as "journalism."
The writers whom I have repeatedly criticized apparently won't change, so the readers must wake up, stop falling for this, and wake others up as well. Your most basic human rights and your livelihoods -- if not your lives -- are at stake, and mendacious media therefore amounts to just another form of violence.
* For better coverage of the story, try this article in the Taipei Times: "CROSS STRAIT TALKS: Police officer injured in Taichung protests."
* For comparison, here's a CNA round-up (in the Taiwan News) of other articles on the incident: "News digest of local media - Clashes."
* Here's a YouTube video of some of the hooligans stationed around the Chenlan Temple: "大甲鎮瀾宮前成自治區，廟方派出紅衣人保護警方維安現場-民視新聞" (Translation: The front of Dajia Township's Chenlan Temple becomes an "autonomous region," people in red [and pink] shirts dispatched to protect police, "preserve order" at the scene - FTV News). Note that in addition to the "uniforms," some of these guys are wearing earpieces, indicating that they're organized and awaiting orders from someone, much like soldiers on a battlefield.
Squiggly lines of BS detection: Taiwan, 台灣, media, 媒體, memes, 大腦模仿病毒, Reuters, 路透社, Ralph Jennings, 唐甯思, Yen Ching-piao, 顏清標, violence, 暴力
Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!