As Seen on TV!

CCTV is laying it on with a steam shovel. America has won the war but at a very heavy price. Iraqis are afraid they may suffer more than they did under Saddam if America chooses to “colonize” the country and take away their land. We must leave matters in the hands of the UN. There must be an international solution to administer change in Iraq. They are interviewing one anguished-looking Iraqi after another, while the translator’s voice-over, like a broken record, keeps saying basically the same thing — we are all terrified of American rule and wish the United Nations would step in now and take over. Of course, they are all speaking Arabic and could be telling the reporter they need to pick up their dry cleaning later today. (Some are obviously poor peasants, and I have to wonder, with respect, how they all know so much about the machinations of the United Nations.)

Needless to say, SARS is a dead story according to CCTV — only 22 cases in Beijing and all on the road to recovery. As the announcer reads the statistics, I can see she wants to get through the story as quickly as possible. Her face can’t hide that she knows she is lying. That’s one of the most interesting aspects of the Beijing media — all the reporters know they are lying, and they hate to do it. This is not why they chose to be journalists. But there is no choice, of course, and many of them are quite vocal (in private conversation) about their loathing of the censors who turn their stories either into syrupy “feel-good” mush or blatant and unconscionable lies.

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