At least the rule would be a start, though few in the U.S. television audience would recognize Phoenix Media, a supposedly private Hong Kong operation that, besides being owned partly (10 percent) by the CCP directly, has as its primary owner (37.1 percent) Liu Changle, a former propaganda officer for the People’s Liberation Army and what was then known as the Central People’s Broadcasting System (now bowdlerized as China National Radio).
As they say, if it walks like a duck—it’s a red duck.
Nevertheless, with the apparent acquiescence of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA—who current rotating head is ABC’s Jonathan Karl) that traditionally controls access, Youyou Wang, a young woman from Phoenix Media, was somehow admitted to the coveted foreign journalist position in the White House briefing room. (These difficult-to-obtain seats are even more sparse due to extended coronavirus spacing.)
Trump, either by advance warning or instinct (the CCP has been engaged in this particular coverup for some time), was having none of it and asked immediately, “Who are you working for, China?” The woman, of course, denied it, claiming she was employed by a “private” enterprise—she hadn’t identified herself at first—but clearly the president, as anyone interested now knows, was right.
What concerns me, however, isn’t another—in this case, mostly unsuccessful—CCP propagandist from the world of “journalism.” It is how and why she was able to get into a position to make her dubious pronouncements before the president of the United States and an audience that has gone as high as 8 million of our fellow citizens.
Let’s hope it was that rotation, but if so, the WHCA might be well advised to examine their vetting process. We all believe in freedom of the press and freedom of speech, but using White House press conferences as a platform for dogmatic lies during a pandemic can be construed as the journalistic equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater.
Transparency on the part of the WHCA is called for, but unfortunately, the workings of that association are far from transparent. They have been accused of elitism and favoritism toward established mainstream media entities for some time. They function almost as a cartel protecting the front row positions of the networks that have endured for decades.
That the association is best known to the public for sponsoring a televised annual glamour dinner (also known as the “nerd prom” and mercifully canceled this year for obvious reasons) only enhances a snobbish, elitist reputation that isn’t congruent with a healthy and open press in a democratic republic.
Early in the Trump administration, some effort was given to democratize the atmosphere in the press room. This seems to have largely gone by the wayside in the welter of events. Perhaps in a second Trump administration, this could be reinstituted, as well as, more immediately, the aforementioned proposal that journalists identify themselves to the public before launching into what are often accusatory questions. They owe us that much.