Vietnam acknowledged Ho Chi Minh’s birthday in an oddly low-key way during my visit even in his boyhood home in Hue.

The media myths surrounding the Vietnam War continue to shape U.S. policy in Asia and throughout the world.

As I recently wandered through Vietnam, particularly the area near the DMZ, or the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam, I couldn’t help but think how media narratives had changed the course of the war and Vietnam’s history. Here are some important facts that must be understood.

First, the 1968 Tet Offensive was a huge military defeat for the Communists.

Second, CBS anchor Walter Cronkite had little to do with the decisions to wind down U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Third, the “napalm girl”—a memorable photograph during the war–had nothing to do with U.S. forces.

Finally, after more than 40 years of Communist rule, the people of Vietnam are not better off.

Vietnam veteran James Willbanks, a noted military historian, provides an interesting analysis of the Tet Offensive, particularly in Hue, the former royal capital of Vietnam.

Tet, the lunar New Year began on Jan. 31, 1968, when Communist forces attacked multiple locales, including Hue, which was geographically situated in South Vietnam but close to the border with North Vietnam. By the time the battle of Hue ended a month later, more than 40 percent of the buildings were damaged and more than 100,000 people were homeless. More important, the North Vietnamese had lost the battle but had executed nearly 3,000 people with ties to the South Vietnamese government. For more background, see http://www.historynet.com/tet-what-really-happened-at-hue.htm

All told, the Tet Offensive was a massive failure for the Communists. The change from guerrilla tactics to frontal assaults against the U.S. and South Vietnamese military, resulted in only minimal gains. Moreover, the Communists lost nearly a quarter of its battle-ready troops.

What happened, however, was an onslaught of news reports and photos that showed, among other things, the U.S. embassy in Saigon under assault. It made little difference that the Marines had successfully fought back, and the U.S. military recaptured all the territory and more.

The Communists were described as despondent because of the failure of Tet. But the PR started to roll in that the Communists had effectively taken the battle to the Americans and the South Vietnamese Army. Then the so-called “Cronkite moment” happened. CBS anchor Cronkite said during a news broadcast on February 27, 1968, that “we have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds.” He added, “We are mired in a stalemate that could only be ended by negotiation, not victory.”

As my friend and colleague, W. Joseph Campbell, notes in his excellent book, “Getting It Wrong,” Cronkite had little influence on Johnson’s thinking. “In the days and weeks after the Cronkite program, Johnson was adamant in defending his Vietnam policy. On multiple occasions during that time, the president in effect brushed aside Cronkite’s downbeat assessment and sought to rally support for the war effort. At a time when Cronkite’s views should have been most potent, the president remained openly and tenaciously hawkish on the war.” For more, see https://mediamythalert.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/after-cronkite-moment-lbj-doubled-down-on-viet-policy/

But the Communists had won the PR battle–often based on media myths–as Americans turned against the war, and LBJ’s confidantes followed the public’s view.

Campbell also makes short shrift of the claim that the U.S. military was responsible for the “napalm girl” attack. Associated Press photographer Nick Ut took one of the most memorable photographs of the Vietnam War — the image of a 9-year-old girl screaming in terror as she fled from a misdirected napalm attack. The AP said the famous photo, taken June 8, 1972, “communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe, helping to end one of the most divisive wars in American history.”

The famous “napalm girl” photo did not involve the U.S. military.

But the plane was from the South Vietnam military and flown by a South Vietnamese pilot.

By referring to “American planes” in an article, The New York Times insinuated that U.S. forces were responsible for the napalm attack that preceded Ut’s photograph, Campbell writes. He tried to get DaTimes to correct the information but got nowhere. For more, see https://mediamythalert.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/40-years-on-the-napalm-girl-photo-and-its-associated-errors/

Some excellent reporting occurred during the Vietnam War, but what seems to stick in the American psyche about Tet, Cronkite and the napalm photo are mostly wrong—media myths like many we see today.

Finally, Vietnam is a mess. When your currency is valued at 22,000 dong to the dollar, you’ve got problems. People openly complain about the lack of full-time jobs except in the government. In 2011, Nguyen Phu Trong was appointed secretary general of the Communist Party. He served as the party’s chief ideologue before. That doesn’t bode well for solving the problems of the country.

A personal note: As the only American on board a trip to the DMZ, I tried to counter the propaganda of the guide, a committed Communist, about the information she was providing. But the other members of the tour–Brits, Canadians, French and Vietnamese–had already embraced the myths even though most of them were in their 20s and 30s.

Moreover, I had a wonderful time seeing the historic sites of Hue and Hoi An, a lovely town south of Danang, in central Vietnam. I met many courteous and friendly people during my visit. The attitude toward me as an American was mostly curiosity and certainly not condemnation. I stopped by a Catholic church—the religion that remains that of an estimated 20 percent of the population–and the members greeted me with enthusiasm. I wish the people, not the government, well.

One of the most important events of the year happened last weekend in Beijing, but few U.S. news organizations gave much notice.

President Xi Jinping and representatives of more than 100 other countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, got together to hash out how to spend nearly $1 trillion—that’s TRILLION—of China’s money. The United States’ delegation got an upgrade in the growing bromance between President Trump and Xi.

The project, now called “Belt and Road,” is arguably the most extensive and expensive rebuilding program since the Marshall Plan after World War II.


Following the old trading routes of the infamous Silk Road, the projects stretch across 65 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe via land and sea in a mixture of financial investments and foreign policy. Here is just a taste of some of the plans:

–China is financing more than a third of the $23.7 billion cost of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant on the Somerset coast of southwest England. The project, in a major western economy, was added to the Belt and Road plan to give added prestige.

–China financed most of the $4 billion cost of Africa’s first transnational electric railway, which opened this year and runs for 466 miles from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

–A deepwater port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea will be linked by new roads and rail to western China’s Xinjiang region, creating a shortcut for trade with Europe. The port is part of $46 billion China says it is spending on infrastructure and power plants in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

–China is leading a $6 billion investment to build a 260-mile rail line from northern Laos to the capital, Vientiane. Mountainous terrain means bridges and tunnels will account for more than 60 percent of the line, and construction is further complicated by the need to clear unexploded land mines left from American bombing of the country during the Vietnam War.

This map shows the extent of the Chinese initiative in more than 60 countries.

Although most of the work will be done by Chinese companies, U.S. businesses like GE and Caterpillar are vying for some of the action.

The plan is not without its critics. India, for example, failed to show up for the weekend meeting because its leaders are not happy about a project that goes through Kashmir, land claimed by both India and Pakistan.

Whatever the case, the initiative will be the signature dish of President Xi—one that is likely to gain more than a few friends throughout the world.

Note: The Wall Street Journal has a funny piece about the PR campaigns for the plan at https://www.wsj.com/articles/coffee-classical-music-and-wrestling-celebrate-chinese-infrastructure-1494862432

I just visited Myanmar, known to most of us as Burma, where the people have been under the oppressive boot of a huge colonial power, the Japanese fascists and homegrown socialist nut cases for nearly 150 years. Finally, they have democracy, and for the most part, are happy as hell.

Here’s a brief history:

From 1824 to 1886, Britain conquered Burma and incorporated the country into its Indian Empire. After World War II in 1948, Burma attained independence from the British Commonwealth.

In 1962, the military launched a coup and ruled as “socialists” with a sadistic desire to kill their constituents for more than 50 years. In 1990, the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory. Instead of handing over power, the junta placed NLD leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for about 15 years.

Suu Kyi’s party won elections in 2015 and rules the country today, but she could not become president because her children have British passports. Moreover, the military rewrote the constitution before leaving power to allow them to control key ministries.

Nevertheless, the people I met are relieved that they can actually speak freely after years of oppression.

I visited Bagan, the beautiful former capital of the country. Bagan is near the city where George Orwell, a British officer in Burma, wrote The Road to Mandalay. You can find numerous copies of Orwell’s books in the local bazaar.

More than 2,000 Buddhist sites–mainly from the 10th to the 13th century–exist in Bagan, Myanmar.

My Bagan guide told me how he and his family had lost their home under the military in 1990. My guide, now 41, recalls as a teenager the trauma for his family and dozens of others being forcibly removed from their homes. But he sees a bright future for Myanmar, particularly in his hometown, which has some of the most amazing Buddhist temples in the world.

Yangon, the largest city with more than six million people, still shows the signs of the errant ways of the military government. Some of the old British buildings stand vacant and in despair because the military government ignored their decline. The new government has launched a renovation campaign to preserve these beautiful structures that survived World War II but almost did not make it during 50 years of socialist oppression.

Interestingly, there is a growing Roman Catholic community, with a large church and a seminary, Unfortunately, I just missed the time when it was open.

Myanmar still has its problems—a mix of ethnic groups seeking autonomy—and continued tensions between the government and the military. But, for the most part, the people are happy that freedom has come to Myanmar.

The visit made me think that we Americans need to take a breath and realize how lucky we are!

For the past two weeks as a trekked across China, Myanmar and Thailand, I have been repeatedly asked this question: What do you think of Trump?

Before I answer, I ask the questioners, from businessmen to government officials to tour guides, what THEY think of Trump.

Almost universally, their answer is: We can do business with Trump!

I admit that my survey is far from scientific. My data come mainly from educated people who can speak English and oftentimes are at least middle class. But it’s interesting when the local taxi drivers turn the table on me to ask me questions.

The most telling comments I heard came from Hangzhou, the Chinese city just south of Shanghai that hosted the G-20 conference last year. That was the conference when President Obama had to come down the back stairs of Air Force I in which many Americans saw as an intended slap in the face of the former leader.

The Chinese business people I met saw the gesture as a purposeful slight of a naïve and incompetent leader. They still think it rings true now.

Hillary Clinton was seen as even worse than Obama by many Chinese because she had come full circle from a positive image during her husband’s presidency to a negative one when Obama’s Asia pivot failed miserably.

These same businessmen see Trump using his negotiating tactics to meet the Chinese halfway, particularly when it comes to trade and even North Korea. “It’s like Trump points at one piece of property he wants to buy when he’s actually looking at another. It’s the kind of bargaining we can deal with,” one manager told me.

The Asian media aren’t portraying Trump as the buffoon the U.S. media like to do. Instead, the Chinese media, for example, have taken a relatively neutral stance toward Trump, including limited coverage of the missile defense system being set up in South Korea to counter any threat from the North. Moreover, the meeting between Presidents Xi and Trump received positive coverage, including stories about Trump’s granddaughter singing in Mandarin.

One of the more entertaining conversations I had was in Shanghai with a couple who had immigrated to Canada from Romania in the 1980s. They had grown so weary of the political correctness in our northern neighborhood that they were seriously considering going back home. I guess what attracts some of the leftists in the United States doesn’t sit so well with people who had seen actual dictatorships rather than the imagined notion of Trump as a dictator.

All told, it’s awfully nice to meet an international array of intellectual and political fellow travelers during the latest chapter of my Asia pivot. The view from this side of the Pacific is far rosier than that in the United States.

Xi’an, the former capital of mainland China, may be the best example of the country’s heart, power, history and future of the country.

Emperor Qin [pronounced chin] Shi Huang unified China in the Third Century B.C, making Xi’an [pronounced she-ON], the country’s most important city for roughly 1,500 years.

During his reign, his generals greatly expanded the size of the Chinese state. He enacted major economic and political reforms aimed at the standardization of such things as roads and currency. He is said to have banned and burned many books and executed scholars,  but experts dispute these claims.

His public works projects included the unification of diverse state walls into the Great Wall of China and a national road system, as well as the city-sized  mausoleum guarded by the life-sized Terra Cotta Army. He ruled until his death in 210  B.C.

Today China looks back at the history and the ties to its national roots.

Nearby lies the tomb of Wu Zetian, the only woman to ever rule China and a key component of the Tang Dynasty’s role in building the Silk Road that made the region rich. She’s well known and revered in China, but I was the only visitor to her massive tomb on a brilliant Sunday morning.

Wu (624-705) and the Tang Dynasty devised The Silk Road or Silk Route, an ancient network of trade routes that were for centuries central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the East and West. Think Marco Polo.

While the term is modern, the Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk  (and horses) carried out along its length.

Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, Korea, Japan, Iran, the Horn of Africa and the Arab Peninsula, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations. Though silk was certainly the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded, as well as religions, philosophies and various technologies.

Today, President Xi has revived the Silk Road philosophy through his “One Belt, One Road” strategy to improve economic and political relations with a variety of countries.

Essentially, the plan includes countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges and broadening trade. Apart from this zone, which is largely analogous to the historical Silk Road, another area to be included in the extension of this ‘belt’ is South Asia and Southeast Asia.

A report from Fitch Ratings suggests that China’s plan to build ports, roads and railways in under-developed Eurasia and Africa is out of political motivation rather than real demand for infrastructure. Fitch also doubts Chinese banks’ ability to control risks, as they do not have a good record of allocating resources efficiently at home, which may lead to new asset-quality problems for Chinese banks that most of funding is likely to come from.

Simply put, the plan is believed to be a way to extend Chinese influence at the expense of the United States, in order to fight for regional leadership in Asia. The estimated $1 trillion for the projects can be considered a masterstroke by China to establish itself as a world-leading economy and to spread its power, particularly in the South Asian region. China has already invested billions of dollars in several South Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to improve their basic infrastructure, with important implications for both China’s trade regime as well as its military influence.

One final note: Put Xi’an on your bucket list. It’s easy to get to and easy to get around. But make sure you see more than the Terra Cotta Army!

My new friends in Xi’an

For the third straight year, I am headed to China, where I will teach students at the International School at Jinan University in Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton in South China.

The trip allows me an opportunity to travel throughout China, Thailand and Myanmar, where I continue my own “Asia pivot” after years of reporting on terrorism and the Middle East.

I will keep you up to date, with my travels and travails. I start in Xi’an, the one-time capital of China, where the Terra Cotta warriors were found in the 1970s. I visited Xi’an two years ago, but I wanted to travel to a nearby locale, where the only empress of China, Wu Zetian (624-705), is buried.

Wu was the concubine of Emperor Taizong. After his death, she married his successor—his ninth son, Emperor Gaozong, in 655. After Gaozong’s debilitating stroke in 660, Wu Zetian became administrator of the court, a position equal to an emperor, until 705.

She is buried in the Qianlong Mausoleum, which is something I’ve always wanted to see.

A mural in the Qianling Mausoleum

Hangzhou, the Venice of China, is my next stop. That’s where the G20 met last year. The city is known for its key role in the early canal system of the country.

Hangzhou

After that, I head out of China as it celebrates May Day, and millions of people throughout the Communist world launch some sort of remembrance for International Workers’ Day.

In Thailand, which has no May Day parties, I will head to the north, where I will stop in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, the locale for the famed Golden Triangle.

After a few days, I head for Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which is being ruled rather poorly by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who ousted the longtime dictatorship.

But I’m not there for the politics; I am visiting for the famed Buddhist shrines in Bagan and Yangon.

Buddhist shrines in Myanmar

Then it’s back to southern China, where I will teach Journalism Research and In-Depth Reporting for sophomore students. Here is what my class produced last year: www.writingforjournalism.com. The stories include some about abortion, the elderly, urban policy and more.

The Chinese students are among the best and the brightest, and it’s an opportunity for me to see what the next generation from the Middle Kingdom will be like. For the most part, they resemble my students from the United States, but the work ethic is much stronger.

I’ll keep my head down as North Korea, the South China Sea and other issues swirl around me.

 

Kassem Eid survived the 2013 sarin massacre in Syria in which 1,400 people died, so it wasn’t surprising that CNN contacted him to talk about the most recent attack and the Trump administration’s response.

What happened next stunned CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.

“For the very first time, we see Assad held accountable just for once, held accountable for his crimes against humanity. I was overwhelmed. I felt grateful for President Trump. I felt grateful for the United States. I felt grateful for each and every person who lobbied and kept on talking until someone actually listened,” Eid said.

In an apparent attempt to keep the Syrian survivor on the media talking points about refugees, Baldwin played a video of Hillary Clinton bashing Trump over his immigration plan.

Eid didn’t take the bait.

“Help us stay in our country, and if you just give me a few seconds just to tell President Trump once again, please, sir, what you did was amazing, what you did was powerful message of hope for a lot of people inside and outside of Syria,” he told a dumbstruck Baldwin.

He criticized those who demonstrated against the immigration policies but failed to protest against the sarin attacks in 2013 and now. “I didn’t see you raising your voice against President Obama’s inaction in Syria that led us refugees, that made us refugees get kicked out of Syria. If you really care about refugees, if you really care about helping us, please, help us STAY in our — in our country. We don’t want to come to [the] United States. We want to STAY in our country.”

It’s unlikely that Eid will be asked again for his comments on CNN anytime soon, but his message should be shared and shared again.

Here is his interview on CNN:

As a reporter, I covered Syria for many years. What has occurred over the past six years is one of the worst examples of genocide in history. Although Assad and the self-proclaimed Islamic State bear most of the responsibility for what has happened, the Obama administration’s lack of any coherent strategy except to make idle threats allowed these forces of evil to devastate the country. The Trump administration does not have to commit itself to full-scale involvement in Syria, but the decision to launch missiles gave aid and comfort to Eid and many like him.

Here are some of my most recent columns about Syria:

The media and Syria: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/11/harper-in-syria-war-debate-media-are-missing-in-ac/

The role Hezbollah in Syria: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/19/harper-media-overlook-key-player-in-middle-east-cr/

Bashar Assad and 60 Minutes’ dreadful interview: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/1/christopher-harper-60-minutes-bashar-assad-intervi/

It’s difficult to determine which one of the columnists for DaTimes writes the most absurd claptrap. Charlie Blowhard? Paul, Nick, Frank?

Tommy Friedman just moved to the top of my list when he calls Donald Trump a “Chinese agent” in a recent column. Here’s Tommy’s “proof”:

No. 1: Trump ended U.S. support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP. That would be the same economic deal opposed by Hillary Clinton, the AFL-CIO, the Roosevelt Institute, and myriad groups from both the right and the left.

No. 2: Trump tossed out Obama’s plans to shrink the U.S. dependence on coal-fired power and changed mileage requirements on automobiles. Tommy cites China’s plan to build more clean-energy devices that will leave the United States behind.

Tommy lives in a mansion in Maryland of more than 11,000 square feet. That is quite a carbon footprint!

More important, China is a country that chokes its citizens nearly every day and doesn’t even recycle its trash.

No. 3: Trump wants to slash the State Department and foreign aid budgets and make it harder for people to immigrate to America, particularly Muslims.

China has one of the toughest immigration policies in the world and just issued new rules to tighten restrictions for foreign workers and banned wearing Islamic veils and long beards.

Tommy ends his silliness by writing: “So you tell me that Trump is not a Chinese agent. The only other explanation is that he’s ignorant and unread — that he’s never studied the issues or connected the dots between them.”

I have known Tommy since 1979 when we worked across the hall from one another in Beirut. He was at United Press International; I worked for Newsweek. Despite his Pulitzer Prizes and his books, I never thought much of his reporting. I have found out I am not alone.

Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, a longtime Tommy critic, writes: “This is Friedman’s life: He flies around the world, eats pricey lunches with other rich people and draws conclusions about the future of humanity by looking out his hotel window and counting the Applebee’s signs.”

The Huffington Post, not exactly a member of the alt-right, describes Friedman this way: “He’s not just a millionaire or a multimillionaire – he’s member of one of the wealthiest families in the world, and is one of the most influential media voices on the planet, who writes specifically about economic/class issues. If politicians are forced to disclose every last asset they own, you’d think at the very least, The New York Times – in the interest of basic disclosure – should have a tagline under Friedman’s economic columns that says “Tom Friedman is an heir to a multi-billion-dollar business empire.”

One of his many simplistic analyses is called the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention: No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s.

He supported that observation, as a theory, by stating that when a country has reached an economic development where it has a middle class strong enough to support a McDonald’s network, it would become a “McDonald’s country,” and will not be interested in fighting wars anymore.

Not surprisingly, the theory has broken down repeatedly in Panama, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, India, Pakistan and many more places.

Here is how Taibbi ranks Tommy’s batting average on other issues: “To review quickly, the ‘Long Bomb’ Iraq war plan Friedman supported as a means of transforming the Middle East blew up in his and everyone else’s face; the ‘Electronic Herd’ of highly volatile international capital markets he once touted as an economic cure-all not only didn’t pan out, but led the world into a terrifying chasm of seemingly irreversible economic catastrophe; his beloved ‘Golden Straitjacket’ of American-style global development (forced on the world by the ‘hidden fist’ of American military power) turned out to be the vehicle for the very energy/ecological crisis Friedman himself warns about.”

A New York writer has kept a record of all of Tommy’s missteps: http://jilliancyork.com/2011/12/14/the-definitive-collection-of-thomas-friedman-takedowns/

On the right, The New York Observer provides a parody of how to write a Tommy column with a step-by-step guide at http://observer.com/2004/05/write-your-own-thomas-friedman-column/

Tommy has fooled too many people too often. Trump, the alleged China agent, should consider a libel suit against The New York Times for recklessly disregarding the truth on too many occasions.

If you asked Republicans the most important reason they voted for Donald Trump, a significant number would answer the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nomination of Neil Gorsuch is more important that Obamacare, the wall or anything else. It is conceivable that Trump may appoint at least two other justices during his tenure as Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy are both in their 80s.

The Democrats have demonstrated their intolerance for an excellent candidate for the court by a threat to filibuster the nomination after making some of the most inane statements against Gorsuch’s record.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the ideologue who took over from California ideologue Barbara Boxer, tweeted, “Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued legalisms over real lives. I won’t support his nomination.” That’s right! “Legalisms”–otherwise known as the law–should be set aside to “real lives.”

Arguably the dumbest question ever asked during a Supreme Court nomination hearing came from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota as she “probed” Gorsuch’s attitude toward originalism.

The question: “So when the Constitution refers, like, 30-some times to ‘his’ or ‘he’ when describing the president of the United States, you would see that as, well back then, they thought a woman actually could be president of the United States even though women couldn’t vote?”

The answer: “I’m not looking to take us back to quill pens and horses … Of course, women can be president of the United States. I’m the father of two daughters. And I hope one of them turns out to be president.”

But the other senator from up north, former comedian Al Franken, who has become a favorite of the Washington elite, got cited for two of the top five dumb questions at the same hearing. See http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/03/five-dumbest-questions-to-gorsuch.php

In the tortured logic of the left, Gorsuch, who most say is imminently qualified to serve on the court, must not be confirmed because the Republicans did not consider President Obama’s late-term nominee. As Newsweek puts it: “Gorsuch, unfortunately, must be sacrificed on the altar of obscene partisanship erected by the Republicans in recent years.”

As a result of this logic, Senate Majority Leader Charles “Chuckie” Schumer has threatened a filibuster.

Bring it on! That would force Republicans to disown the niceties of the Senate and would make it easier for future Trump nominees to the court get confirmed. It’s time for the GOP to recognize that it can be its own worst enemy. Republicans would control every branch of the federal government, making it possible to return the country to some sense of sanity.

The Wall Street Journal has provided an excellent analysis on how good Gorsuch would be and how pathetic his critics are: https://www.wsj.com/articles/neil-gorsuch-how-would-you-vote-1490052137

Let’s not muck this one up!


Christopher Harper teaches media law.

Sesame Street has broadcast brutal parodies of Donald Trump over the past 40 years.

NPR and PBS are the media outlets liberals love to love.

For example, a Pew research study in 2014 found that liberals rate both the news programs on these outlets as the best in the business. NPR and PBS don’t even make the lists for conservatives.

Why is there such a difference? The American Prospect had this to say about NPR and PBS: “They’re careful, reasoned, polite, cosmopolitan, serious with the occasional touch of whimsy—in short, everything liberals either are or imagine themselves to be. And everyone at NPR seems so nice—how could you not trust them? So liberals do, and most of them listen.”

Simply put, NPR and PBS are the safe zone media if you are a liberal. They also make liberals feel smart. That’s why the news media—staffed largely by liberals—are so opposed to the elimination of funding for NPR and PBS in the Trump budget.

The argument stresses that $600 million is such a small part of the overall budget. That’s more than half a billion dollars the two organizations’ output! As the old barb goes: a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Even a member of the board of CPB, which funds public broadcasting, says that the organizations have strayed from their initial goals.

In a column in The Washington Post, Howard Husock writes, “If public broadcasters continue to receive federal support, they must start appealing to more than just blue-state America. They should revisit and expand the meaning of diversity to include more ideological and geographic perspectives.”

It’s worth noting that the program referred to Trump as “Grump” over several decades in what even The Washington Post calls “surprisingly vicious takedowns of Donald Trump.” For more details, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/03/20/trump-wants-to-defund-pbs-sesame-street-brutally-parodied-him-for-decades/ It’s one thing to make fun of the president on Saturday Night Live! It’s entirely different for a publicly funded “kids” show.

Amazingly, Sesame Street apparently has no street smarts or business sense. It makes $150 million a year in selling stuff and licensing fees, but it usually operates at a loss.

Other content at PBS generally has reflected a liberal-to-left political slant ever since the network’s inception. As the Capital Research Center reports, “most PBS news programs are little more than left-wing agitprop”; PBS’s “flagship public affairs series, Frontline, typically focuses on “corporate malfeasance” and “political intrigue”; the “human-interest stories on Independent Lens and P.O.V. are politically correct lamentations on social oppression or celebrations of ‘diversity’”; the science program Nova “frequently bemoans man’s destructive interference with nature”; and the series NOW, hosted by David Brancaccio, “is dedicated to blaming corporate America for every crisis and targeting politicians and big media for every cover-up.

Bill Moyers, the former LBJ spokesman, was a prominent host and producer of various PBS programs from 1970 through his retirement in 2004. Toward the end of Moyers’ career, approximately 30 PBS affiliates stopped airing his partisan show NOW, which he hosted before David Brancaccio, during the network’s pledge drives, partly out of fear that the program’s bias would alienate potential donors. NOW had also become an ethical embarrassment because Moyers, without informing his audience, had used his taxpayer-subsidized show to promote guests from at least 16 leftist organizations that had received some $4.8 million in grants from the Schumann Center, which he heads.

PBS’s political bias has been evident in many of its high-profile, special productions over the years. The 2001 documentary Enemies of War, for instance, recounts the 1980s civil war in El Salvador. While denigrating the elected anti-Communist Salvadoran government that was backed by the Reagan administration and was fighting against Marxist terrorists from neighboring Nicaragua, the film lauds the efforts of those who “halted U.S. involvement” in the region and thereby helped El Salvador “generat[e] peace instead of war.”

In 2005, PBS broadcast the three-hour documentary series Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. A PBS synopsis of this production described socialism as “the vision that life could be lived in peace and brotherhood if only property were shared by all and distributed equally, eliminating the source of greed, envy, poverty and strife.”

Other notable, politically charged programs which PBS has aired include:

Alcatraz Is Not an Island, about the 1969 takeover and occupation of Alcatraz by Native American activists

Affluenza, which explores “the high social and environmental costs of materialism and over-consumption”

The Good War and Those Who Refused To Fight It, about conscientious objectors who chose not to take part in combat during World War II

Islam: Empire of Faith, a production that whitewashes the more violent and intolerant aspects of the Muslim faith.

In April 2007, PBS shelved a documentary titled Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center, which examines how moderate American Muslims have struggled to resist Islamic militancy. Frank Gaffney, Jr., co-producer of the film and president of the Center for Security Policy, asserts that PBS suppressed the film because its bluntness did not advance the network’s multicultural agenda which called for programming that was “more flattering to the Islamists.”

In a recent speech, Ken Burns, one of the most prominent fixtures of PBS, gave this description of Donald Trump:

‘’…a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships. I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and — they feel — powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that — as often happens on TV — a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.”

PBS also has a lot of leftist financial backers. The Park Foundation, for example, is a major funder of Burns and PBS. The foundation is headed by Adelaide Gomer, who has given money to a variety of leftist causes such an anti-fracking groups. She also got me ousted from my job as the Roy Park Distinguished Chair at Ithaca College—an honorary chair named for her late father—because of my conservative views.

I don’t listen to NPR. I don’t watch PBS. I don’t want to pay anything for either. I know a lot of people who think the same way I do. If the cost of public broadcasting is so relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things, according to its supporters, let those who use the networks pay for them.


Christopher Harper teaches media law.