The U.S. could have used a moment like this in the Obama years.
A Chinese reporter who rolled her eyes in open contempt for a colleague asking a boot-licking question during a Beijing news conference this week has become an internet star for facial expressions that broke the monotony of a state-controlled news conference.
But she also found out just how quickly a dictatorship can pounce.
According to The Washington Post, the eye roll seen ‘round the world took place Tuesday, when a woman identified as Liang Xiangyi of the Shanghai-based Yicai Media was caught on camera virtually sneering as another reporter larded a question about government regulation with introductions that could have been written by the communist government’s top propaganda office.
The Obama press corps — and its softball questions – would have been envious.
“This year coincides with the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up. Our country will further expand its opening up to the outside world, and General Secretary Xi advocates the Belt and Road Initiative,” the reporter gushed, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Then she got to the hardball, real feet-to-the-fire stuff.
“State-owned enterprises’ investment in countries along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative has increased. So how will the overseas assets of state-owned enterprises be effectively supervised to prevent the loss of capital from state-owned enterprises? What kind of supervision mechanism have we have brought out? What’s the effect of the supervision? Please explain to us.”
Even allowing for the distortions of translation, it sounds so absurd it’s funny. But Liang’s expressions are even funnier. Check them out here.
The clip made Liang an instant hit on Chinese social media, so the communist country’s censors stepped in to make her disappear.
As CNN reported:
“Within minutes, numerous clips, GIFs and recreations of the eye roll began to spread like wildfire across the Chinese internet, prompting censors to suppress its spread and banning Liang’s name from online search results.”
According to the China Digital Times – a California-based bilingual website that covers China — an unnamed Chinese government body issued these terse instructions:
“Urgent notice: all media personnel are prohibited from discussing the Two Sessions blue-clothed reporter incident on social media. Anything already posted must be deleted. Without exception, websites must not hype the episode.”
That wasn’t all.
“Liang’s press credentials have reportedly been revoked, and her personal page on Weibo (China’s Twitter) has been taken down. Foreign journalists noted she was curiously absent from an event on Wednesday that she would normally have covered. The company she works for, Yicai Media, did not respond to questions about her status,” according to Breitbart.
That’s the way a communist government can treat the media in a country that has no First Amendment-style freedom of press.
But that freedom only means something if it’s used as intended. During the 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, American reporters routinely asked idiotically softball questions from the administration.
From the time of the news conference in 2009, when The New York Times infamously asked Obama how much he was “enchanted” with the job, through the “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” Obamacare lies, through the Benghazi cover-up, the serial IRS scandals, and all the other rotten corruption of the Obama years, the White House press corps disgraced itself by asking ridiculous questions.
With a few notable exceptions, like Fox News and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, the essence of the First Amendment disappeared here, too.
In China, it wasn’t clear where Liang Xiangyi herself is these days, but she has clearly been disappeared from social media in China for showing her contempt for a government toadied by the press corps.
In America, those toadies are still on every night on CNN — except now they brag about how much they bother President Donald Trump.
And there’s not an eye roll to be seen.
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