Why Do Some U.S. Media Peddle CCP Hate?
There have been a series of news and magazine articles published in the U.S. recently that grossly distort the teachings and beliefs of Falun Gong. In fact, these articles mimic with shocking similarity the hate-filled propaganda prominent in communist China, which fuels terrible persecution of people who practice Falun Gong there.
What exactly is going on? What kind of mischaracterizations or outright lies are we seeing in these reports, and why would these U.S. media companies engage in this kind of bigotry?
Today, we’re going to dig into these questions…
First a little background. All of these recent news articles share a common theme: they aim to delegitimize a media company based in New York called The Epoch Times by calling it “pro-Trump”, conspiratorial or right-wing. They bizarrely wield as a weapon the idea that the paper was founded by Falun Gong practitioners, which is true. And they portray the paper as somehow representing or even speaking for the Falun Gong community, which entirely false. They then spend significant resources portraying Falun Gong as strange, extreme, or even dangerous… and by association, seek to delegitimize the paper.
This is very troubling for several reasons.
(1) If there is criticism of what The Epoch Times produces, why not just address the supposed flaws in their product directly? That is, analyze The Epoch Times reporting, and put forth an argument based on that analysis. By and large, they don’t do this, but instead, they use Falun Gong as a pawn. They portray a caricature of Falun Gong, hold it up for ridicule, and then conflate this caricature with the staff of the Epoch Times. It’s the equivalent of character assassination rather than measured analysis. So, their methodology here raises a real red flag as to their intentions.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, these biased reports are riddled with gross mischaracterizations and falsehoods about Falun Gong. In some cases, it is possible this stems from misunderstanding. After all, it’s clear these reporters are employing a modern, secular worldview to evaluate the teachings of a traditional, Buddhist-based spiritual group. Yet, many of these mistruths are so basic and easy to verify that it would suggest the reporters failed to do basic fact-checking, or they may have other motivations.
For example, one lie that is repeated by these biased reports is that Falun Gong advocates for racial segregation and is against the mixing of races… and they make it sound believable by citing a passage from Falun Gong’s spiritual text. But consider this: I myself am married to a woman of a different race. We have two handsome boys that are of mixed race, and we all practice Falun Gong. And we’re not alone. In just my circle of friends alone, there are many mixed-race families that practice Falun Gong. This accusation simply has no bearing in reality, and is based solely on a secular interpretation of a Buddhist-based spiritual text, which the reporter obviously doesn’t understand.
Imagine if they took the same approach to dissecting Tibetan Buddhism? One could certainly extract from the main texts of Tibetan Buddhism sufficient material to portray the religion as strange or crazy, and be able to quote specific passages to make this conclusion very believable to those unfamiliar with the faith. Yet, anyone who makes a good-will attempt to get to know Tibetan Buddhists comes to realize they are genuinely kind people who base their moral framework on compassion. This distortion of reality is precisely what they do with Falun Gong: they pull passages from the writings of Falun Gong’s founder, apply their own secular interpretation, and then state, as fact, what Falun Gong believes… all without any real understanding for how Falun Gong people themselves understand and live by their faith.
Another example found in these biased reports is the ominous language used to describe a “compound” in upstate New York where some Falun Gong practitioners live, and attend school at a college there. In reality, the security found at the entrance to this campus — which is what it is…it’s a campus — is comparable to the security found at many college campuses around the country. This fact alone raises questions as to the ominous portrayal of the campus security. Furthermore, what all of these reports fail to mention is that members of the Falun Gong community have been victims of harassment and violence at the hands of Chinese Communist Party thugs right here on U.S. soil. We’ve had people’s lives threatened, been assaulted physically including severe beatings, and we’ve even been shot at… again, all right here in the U.S. And so, additional security would certainly be warranted in the face of these threats. None of this is ever mentioned, and instead, the standard security that is present at the entrance to this campus is distorted to falsely portray Falun Gong as “secretive.”
There are many other examples that are equally misleading.
What’s particularly troubling about the portrayal of Falun Gong in these biased reports is that the reader comes away with a very twisted view of the practice.
You know, there are literally tens of thousands of testimonies from people across China and around the world about how Falun Gong has brought them better health, as well as a sense of calm and balance in their lives. It has helped people repair relationships and bring them closer to their families. It has given them courage to stand up for what they believe.
You see, a cornerstone of the Falun Gong practice is to genuinely adopt the principles of honesty, compassion, and tolerance into your life, and strive to live by these principles each and every day. It’s not always easy, but it is a wonderfully uplifting spiritual path that has done so much for so many. Yet, none of this is reflected in these reports.
The third troubling point about these biased reports is that there is a shocking disregard for the scope and scale of persecution faced by people who practice Falun Gong in China. Consider this: for over 20 years, millions of people have been harassed, detained, imprisoned, tortured or killed by Chinese authorities because of their faith. This is a fact that has been regularly documented in annual reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Freedom House, and the U.S. Department of State. The Wall Street Journal won a Pulitzer prize for exposing how the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, routinely tortures people to death because they practice Falun Gong. The United States Congress has passed 5 resolutions describing and condemning the systematic persecution of Falun Gong in China. And the reality of Falun Gong practitioners being killed for their organs is now widely accepted among human rights organizations, policy makers, and academics. In fact, just last year, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, convened an independent tribunal of medical, legal, and China experts in London. After assessing all the evidence, the panel concluded that Falun Gong practitioners were and continue to be killed for their organs “on a significant scale.”
And yet, despite all the evidence of these terrible atrocities and horrible crimes, these reports portray the human rights abuses against Falun Gong as mere allegations, and highly trivialize or even completely ignore, the sheer scope and nature of these crimes.
So all this leads back to the same question: Why would they do this? Why do some U.S. media outlets intentionally distort the teachings and practice of Falun Gong in these biased reports about The Epoch Times, and why do they gloss over one of the worst human rights crimes of the last 50 years?
The truth is, I don’t know the answer. I’m not in the room when reporters and editors craft these articles. But there are a few things we do know that might suggest a reason:
(1) It is no secret that the majority of mainstream media takes a modern, secular view, and one that can sometimes be condescending and dismissive toward people of faith. Perhaps that is a factor.
(2) These biased reports share a common narrative, which is that The Epoch Times paper should not be trusted because it was founded by Falun Gong practitioners whose beliefs are distorted to look strange. Therefore, discussing the benefits of Falun Gong to one’s health and the integrity it fosters in those who practice does not fit this narrative. Additionally, a complete and clear articulation of the persecution faced in China also does not help this narrative.
(3) In the early 2000s, the CCP drew a line in the sand regarding Falun Gong and most Western media chose not to cross it. Consequently, reporting seriously and first-hand about the reality of the persecution in China, and about the suffering faced by practitioners and their families has been virtually non-existent over the past 15 years. What’s more, these recent reports aren’t written by China reporters to begin with, and so they build upon a foundation of ignorance with regards to Falun Gong.
(4) A vast majority of media companies in the U.S., both TV and print, are owned by companies or high net-worth individuals who all have significant business ties to communist China. We’re talking tens of millions, or in some cases, billions of dollars. Clearly, that would represent a conflict of interest as to the tone and substance of their reporting on a Chinese dissident group, Falun Gong, which has been the #1 target of suppression by the CCP over the last 21 years.
Regardless of what the actual reasons are, what is abundantly clear is that Falun Gong is being distorted and ridiculed in these biased reports in a manner that is tantamount to religious bigotry. That is tragically ironic coming from media institutions that hold themselves up as opponents of bigotry and hate speech.
And the human cost is real. People all across America who practice Falun Gong find themselves facing harassment, discrimination and even unfounded concerns from family and friends who read these stories and believe the ignorant or malevolent bias they reflect. For Chinese in particular, they experience a sickening déjà vu of the CCP’s propaganda against them inside China.
Yet what is truly tragic is this: reports like these that mimic communist China propaganda, are a great help to the CCP’s suppression of its own people. You see, inside China, the CCP translates and disseminates Western reports like these far and wide to “prove” to the Chinese people that Falun Gong is also persecuted in the West, which of course, it is not, but this lie helps galvanize the rank and file among Chinese police to further their efforts to harass, imprison, and torture Falun Gong across China. And so, as misleading as they are here in the West, inside China, these biased reports can literally be deadly.
We call upon Western reporters and editors to consider carefully the points we have raised here today, and the terrible impact of the bigotry they are perpetuating in these biased reports about The Epoch Times and Falun Gong.