Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) record of oppression, corporate media outlets are parroting the authoritarian government’s propaganda, even in the midst of an outbreak the CCP worsened through a cover-up. Many of those media outlets have financial ties to Chinese companies with intense oversight from the CCP.
“You often see representatives from American companies with financial ties to China naturally become defenders of the CCP’s policies and spreading the CCP’s propaganda,” said Helen Raleigh, an author and senior contributor at The Federalist who emigrated from China. “The financial tie means these Americans will be much less likely to challenge China’s human rights record or unacceptable demand such as technology transfer.”
We do not know the extent of editorial oversight from corporations and individuals with financial incentives to placate the CCP, if any. But we know the incentives exist, and that’s worth understanding. Below is a breakdown of financial ties between major U.S. media organizations and the CCP.
The New York Times
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim owns 17.4 percent of The New York Times through the company’s Class A shares. As the largest shareholder, his investment allows him to vote for approximately one-third of the company’s board.
In 2009, Slim loaned $250 million to The New York Times Company, the parent company of the New York Times. That same year, Slim purchased 15.9 million Class A shares of the company.
Slim has regularly conducted business with Chinese companies with overt ties to the CCP. In 2017, Slim’s Giant Motors joined ventures with China’s JAC Motors and began manufacturing cars in Mexico to sell in the Latin America Market. According to Forbes, the goal of selling to Latin America was to circumvent the Trump administration’s trade policies aimed at protecting American jobs — a move that benefited the Beijing in the Chinese-American trade wars.
According to Bloomberg Law, Slim’s company America Movil is teaming up with CCP telecommunication giant Huawei Technologies to pitch a 5G pilot project to the Colombian government this year. Huawei is actively working to undermine American security interests by overturning legislation in the United States that bans the use of Huawei’s 5G network.
“Huawei seeks to overturn U.S. legislation that prohibits our federal government from using its equipment. This is a blatant attempt by an allegedly vital cog in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) intelligence apparatus to avail itself of rights China would never confer on U.S. corporations––let alone its own citizens––in a bid to thwart America’s national security interests,” writes The Federalist’s Ben Weingarten.
Slim is making all kinds of lucrative business deals with the Chinese government while influencing the buiness side of The New York Times. He may not sit in on editorial meetings, but all the paper’s leaders certainly know who is funding their salaries.
The Washington Post
In 2013, Amazon CEO and billionaire Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post for $250 million cash. In January 2016, Bezos laid out a new business plan for the Post aimed at incorporating more technology.
Bezos has direct ties to the Chinese business market, which is regulated by the CCP. The production of Amazon’s most popular products—including the Amazon Echo and Kindle e-reader— take place almost exclusively in Chinese factories. According to Newsweek, Amazon’s products are produced by Chinese laborers who work long hours with low pay and little safety training.
Bezos has long tried to expand Amazon in the Chinese market as well, saying “Amazon is well-positioned to serve [China.]” Bezos also backed a treaty between the United States and China allowed technology companies to increase business with China and provided a framework for U.S. tech companies to invest more in the Chinese economy.
After years of business in the Chinese market, Bezo’s ties with China are now evident in the Washington Post’s “advertisement” section.
When you purchase a Washington Post subscription, it comes with an advertising supplement called “China Watch.” According to Mark Hemingway at The Federalist, the Post’s “China Watch” supplement is courtesy of China Daily, a Chinese state-run media organization. The Washington Post openly accepts money for advertisements from the CCP and distributes Chinese propaganda.
CNN is owned and operated by WarnerMedia, which has significant financial and institutional ties to the CCP. In June 2013, WarnerMedia announced it had forged a partnership with a Chinese investment fund to the tune of $50 million. The funding would directly invest in the China Media Capital (CMC), a media company with oversight from the CCP, meaning it is subject to censorship and other demands to push Chinese propaganda.
WarnerMedia considers China a “partner” in their economic and cinematic ventures.
“Increasing our global presence is one of Time Warner’s strategic priorities and China is one of the most attractive territories in which we operate, but it’s complex. This alliance will give all our businesses a savvy and accomplished partner,” said WarnerMedia Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes.
According to Raleigh, when American companies work with organizations such as CMC, they are subject to China’s use of its laws to advance its global objectives, including their cyber security law. This includes forced technology transfers, leaving companies and data subject to random searches from the CCP. Companies are also forced to build data centers in China, where the CCP can observe the data directly. All of this poses a national security risk for the United States.
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker also has a connection with China. According to CNN, Zucker works internally with Turner Sports and is responsible for programming acquisitions, production, marketing, league relations, and sports advertisement sales. Turner Sports works directly with the NBA to broadcast games in China, meaning Zucker has ample business in the Middle Kingdom, where American businessmen seek to keep the CCP happy so the money keeps rolling.
A Fox News “Tucker Carlson Tonight” clip shows CNN singing praise for China over the coronavirus pandemic. In the clip, CNN anchors praise China for sending ventilators and masks to Europe while blaming the Trump administration for alleged poor leadership over the pandemic — the pandemic China allowed to spread worldwide.
Last week, CNN published a story praising China’s “model of control.” The Federalist’s Kylee Zempel writes that CNN is “parroting Chinese media’s duplicitous claims that the country sufficiently control of the virus, while downplaying the CCP’s role in spreading COVID-19 to the rest of the world.”
MSNBC & NBC
Both MSNBC and NBC News are operated by NBC Universal, a company with extensive financial ties to the CCP. In November 2010, NBC signed an agreement with China’s state-run media organization, Xinhua, to establish a business cooperation in international broadcast news. This was the latest market expansion by the CCP into American media.
Since the signing of the business deal, the U.S. State Department identified Xinhua and five other Chinese state-run media organizations as “foreign missions.” They have been identified as direct CCP operations and do not function as independent news outlets.
In 2015, NBC Universal agreed to license the Chinese tech company Baidu’s new video network platform iQIYI, which is listed on the NASDAQ and, thanks to NBC, advertises in Times Square in New York City.
Finally, CMC Capital Partners—a Beijing investment group with financial and technological oversight from the CCP—acquired full ownership of NBC Universal’s Oriental DreamWorks, according to the Hollywood Reporter. NBC Universal gained a 45 percent stake for a steep $3.8 billion.
The most obvious business ties between the American Broadcast Company (ABC) and China are through their ventures with Walt Disney and ESPN. Both companies have deep-rooted financial stakes in the Chinese economy controlled by the CCP.
In November 2009, the Chinese government approved plans to create a Disney World theme park in Shanghai. The project cost approximately $3.6 trillion, with financial help from several large Chinese state-owned enterprises. After construction was completed, Disney only retained 43 percent of the property, while the Communist Party-controlled Shanghai Shendi Group took the remaining 57 percent.
ESPN, another entity of ABC, was caught doing the bidding of the Chinese government in October 2019. When the NBA controversially refused to denounce the CCP for financial benefit, ESPN stood with the NBA to keep financial revenue on track for the 2019 fiscal year. ESPN bowed to the Chinese government for profit motives when the network’s senior news director reportedly instructed staff to avoid discussing Chinese politics if they were asked about Chinese politics or Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet.
According to Raleigh, American companies establish these financial ties with Chinese companies to gain access to China’s massive consumer market of 1.4 billion people. ABC subsidiaries such as ESPN and ABC News need to appease the CCP, whether it be via positive news coverage or complying with cyber security laws, to keep their programs on Chinese screens and thus make money in the Chinese market.
Per Emily Jashinsky at The Federalist, ABC’s cozy relationship with China also translates to the way China is portrayed in the American box office. This is best exemplified by Disney’s relatively new release of “Mulan.” To maintain access to the Chinese market, where profits are huge, American film companies like Disney censor their work, before or after production, to appease the CCP.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced legislation which cuts off Department of Defense assistance to any U.S. movie studio that allows China to censor their content. The bill is called the “Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies,” Act.
Hollywood films commonly work with the Pentagon and Defense Department to use American assets for props such as jets, tanks, and naval bases. Cruz’s SCRIPT legislation would only allow the Defense Department to contract with companies that do not allow China to censor their content.
These same organizations work directly with ABC News abroad. According to veteran ABC correspondent David Wright, ABC and its affiliates are inextricably linked. In an investigative report by Project Veritas, Wright admitted ABC was a profit center, not a beacon of truthful journalism.
“[ABC] became a profit center, a promotion center. Like now, you can’t watch ‘Good Morning America’ without there being a Disney princess or a Marvel Avenger appearing. It’s all self-promotional and promotion of the company,” Wright said.
What benefits ABC’s company is bending a knee to the CCP in exchange for more money, despite the price it puts on journalist’s ability to report truth and hold those in power to account.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his company Bloomberg LP are heavily invested in China. Bloomberg LP sells terminals to their website through the Chinese market and helps finance Chinese companies by sending billions of dollars from U.S. investors to the Chinese bond market.
Bloomberg LP supported 364 Chinese firms and directed approximately $150 billion into their bond offerings. Of these companies, 159 were controlled directly by the CCP.
An newly released exposé from NPR shows the depths Bloombergs News dove to appease the the CCP. In 2014, Bloomberg killed an investigation into the wealth of CCP elites. The company used a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to not only silence the Beijing-based reporter, but also his wife, who never worked for Bloomberg.
Correspondent Mike Forsythe focused on exposing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ties to the country’s richest man, Wang Jianlin. When the story was ready for publication, founding editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler told Forsythe he was crushing the story to avoid angering the CCP.
“It is for sure going to, you know, invite the Communist Party to, you know, completely shut us down and kick us out of the country. So, I just don’t see that as a story that is justified,” Winkler said.
After the story was squashed, the company threatened to sue Forsythe and his wife if they spoke out about Winkler killing the story.
Mike Bloomberg himself has been a CCP apologist. He’s personally lobbied against President Trump’s trade negotiations with China and applauds the CCP. Bloomberg claims Xi Jinping is not a dictator.
“The Communist Party wants to stay in power in China and they listen to the public,” Bloomberg said. “Xi Jinping is not a dictator. He has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive.”
According to a new Department of Homeland Security report obtained by the Associated Press, Beijing hid the severity of the coronavirus to hoard protective medical supplies in early January and February. Yet, corporate media are bending over backwards to avoid negative press coverage of China during the coronavirus pandemic.
Examining these financial ties may explain why China is receiving such glowing coverage during a pandemic of their own making.
Chrissy Clark is social media manager and staff writer at The Federalist. Follow her on social media @chrissyclark_ or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.