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Open letter to NBC News: "Brokaw's unfinished business"
Jointly co-signed letter to the people of NBC News
The China Support Network
For 20-plus years, America has had a triumvirate dominating its news business: Your Tom Brokaw of NBC, together with Peter Jennings of ABC and Dan Rather of CBS. Their tenure has corresponded with our entire adult lifetimes.
In 1984, as John Kusumi ran independently for U.S. President, affiliate TV would cover and run his story, but network (ABC, CBS, NBC) TV would not present his message to the country.
In 1989, network TV began to cover the pro-democracy uprising at Tiananmen Square, and American audiences got to see the Chinese army's mechanized assault against the unarmed protestors in Beijing on June 4, 1989. In the uprising, Yongjun "Majer" Zhou (pronounce: "Major Joe") was the first elected student leader on the Square. He was the initial pragmatist leader until he was overruled by other--more hardline--student leaders.
1989 was an interesting time; the American people were very generous. They were used to this. There had recently been Ronald Reagan's anti-communism; divestment in South Africa; and USA for Africa -- an outpouring of generosity to the less fortunate.
The China Support Network was formed by John Kusumi and grew explosively. In the aftermath of Tiananmen Square's massacre, ordinary people knew that the mechanized assault against innocents was wrong, and they wanted to help. Doors opened on Capitol Hill and in the news media.
When we take and put together our voices and those we represent, here are the earliest voices of Generation X, reaching for better politics in America and in China.
For our entire adult lifetimes, Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather have called the tune that is sung in the choir of America's mainstream news media. If we represent a "reach for better politics," well, that mainstream news has sidelined, marginalized, and silenced every reach for better politics that we have seen in our adult lifetimes.
Is John Kusumi running for President? --Minimize that. Is Jerry Brown running for President? --Minimize that. Are Chinese dissidents protesting PNTR? --Minimize that. Is Ralph Nader running for President, and are third parties struggling to be heard? --Minimize them. Is Falun Gong experiencing genocide? --Minimize that.
This has been the standard M.O. (modus operandi) of mainstream news under Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather. We have introduced a new term to describe what happens when these three men fail to report genocidal persecution. We call it "genocidal correctness." Somehow, they did manage to report the Tiananmen massacre, the presidential bid of Ross Perot, and the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. In fairness, they have these examples of good work to which they can point.
Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather have been playing fast and loose with the term "news," delivering a product that is slanted and spun to present only the best face of China's communist regime, and no face of opposition to same. Through the globalization of free trade, this also plays fast and loose with the meaning of "nation state," because to support globalized free trade requires a blind eye for trade deficits, the current account deficit, and the economic consequences of running a national economy like a sieve.
Our concerns above reflect a lack of balance in the news. Enough is enough of genocidal correctness! We know that others share our anger about this situation. Tibetan campaigners are standing by while spitting angry, because the cause of Tibet has also become lost in your "news." Why not wake up and report from the same planet on which you are standing?
It may be too late to correct this legacy during the last days of Brokaw's tenure. We wish him well in retirement, while we look askance at his legacy. Between Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather, somebody deserves the prize -- a gold medal for Orwellian news distortion.
No less, we hope that the remaining staff at NBC News will resolve to better reflect reality in their post-Brokaw news coverage. China never got better on human rights, in fact it got worse. And, the Chinese pro-democracy movement never went away, nor will Falun Gong or Tibetan campaigners -- all the opponents of dictatorship, persecution, brutality, and totalitarianism.
There could be quite a few news dispatches from our scene. We have a present need to denounce any possible lifting of the EU arms ban on China, ahead of an EU-China summit on December 8. For more examples of our news, see www.chinasupport.net. That web site includes many stories without closure that we call "the unfinished business of Tom Brokaw" (and the backlog of Jennings and Rather, whom we also wish well in retirement). Thank you for your concern and your attention to our issues.
Yongjun "Majer" Zhou
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