Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media has slowly begun to question the Chinese government’s honesty about the country’s management of coronavirus pandemic, but in a blow to independent and impartial reporting, CNN’s chose to publish Chinese government propaganda about its naval capabilities.

CNN headlined its pro-Chinese propaganda “China’s PLA Navy is controlling coronavirus and aircraft carrier’s deployment proves it, report says.”

A better headline would have acknowledged that the report came directly from the Chinese government, as theirs made it appear as if an independent source issued the report.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army claimed that Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning led a group of naval ships out to sea for an operation, which is a contrast to the U.S. Navy’s naval vessels that are suffering from reported coronavirus cases. CNN quoted the Chinese government-run newspaper, the Global Times, and wrote, “The PLA Navy has no such issues.”

CNN followed up with another Chinese government official’s quote, which said, “COVID-19 epidemic has not had an impact on its deployment and operations.” “It showed that the PLA can dispatch troops stationed anywhere at any time, with the troops always maintaining vigorous combat capabilities,” the official added. “The Chinese people can always count on them.”

The article lacked context and did not outline how the coronavirus started in Wuhan, China. Nor did CNN explain that the Chinese government has supported the spread of anti-U.S. conspiracy theories that blame the U.S. military for spreading the virus in China. The cable news network did not mention that the Chinese government’s coronavirus case data is incomplete and not transparent, despite the country being the epicenter of the virus.

CNN’s article lacked appropriate context and portrayed the Chinese navy in a favorable light without a significant rebuttal to China’s propaganda. Although CNN quoted the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley, the majority of the article was from the Chinese government’s perspective.

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