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Emet m'Tsiyon

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Does the New York Times Make Things Up?

 This blog was the first or one of the few blogs and news outlets that pointed out that the "august" and "respected" NY Times had put a false quote in the mouth of the Pope. The NYT article, supposedly reporting on Mahmud Abbas' visit to Pope Francis in the Vatican, had quoted Francis as calling Abbas "an angel of peace." That did not sound right. So I went into some Italian news sites, La Stampa [which covers the Vatican extensively] and others, and I saw that Francis had said [in Italian, the regular language of the Vatican] to Abbas that "You might be" [or "You could be" -- "Lei possa essere"] an angel of peace if he made peace with Israel. The words are not the same, so how could the NYT journalist have made such a mistake?

Be that as it may, I got the same feeling when reading an article about the reaction of Chinese business men to the recent Chinese Communist Party congress where Xi Jinping had reinforced his control of the Party and the country. This NYT journo claimed that after Xi's speech at the Congress, "the founder of an asset management firm in . . . Shenzhen .. . contacted me hours after the congress ended," saying, "My last,  lingering hope was dashed"

The journo, Li Yuan, went on in the same vein. A "tech entrepreneur in Beijing texted me" that the new situation was "absolutely terrifying," And "China's stocks plunged, and its currency, the renminbi, fell in value. I am hearing it ['political depression'] in the voices and messages of the many businesspeople I  have spoken to in recent weeks . . ."

The present political and public atmosphere in China may be as described but why does there seem to be something phoney here? 

China is reputed to be a police state. And a friend who often goes to China on business told me and others that the government of China is relentless and cruel when it wants to obtain some end. Now in such a situation, such a repressive atmosphere, would Chinese businessmen  knowingly contact a NY Times journalist to complain about their own government? Would they not be suspicious that their phones may be tapped? At this point, I would add that wiretapping goes on in many countries, including in the West and in the United States, among Western states. So if they fear their own powers that be, would not well informed Chinese be all the more wary of contacting precisely a journalist for the NY Times which is notorious for being the house organ of the American Establishment, also given that the USA is widely considered an adversary of China?

Hence I doubt that Mr Li Yuan got the quotes that he relays or reports or alleges in the way that he says he did. 

Indeed, towards the end of the article, the NYT journo confirms that Chinese business people are wary of electronic eavesdropping performed by their own government against them. Li Yuan writes: "At social gatherings, hosts are asking friends to surrender their phones [mobile phones in this case] to be kept in a separate place for fear of surveillance." These Chinese business people are afraid of electronic surveillance. They fear that the Chinese authorities might learn how they really feel and think. Or these Chinese authorities might see their frank conversations as conspiracy. Therefore, these people would be most unlikely to simply contact an NYT journo to complain about conditions in their country. Hence Li Yuan indirectly confirms my suspicions that the quotes are made up or came to him in ways other than the ways he claims they reached him. Or perhaps he altered and improved quotes that he received in ways other than what he claims. Or maybe the quotes are wholly made up. In the case of any of these possibilities, this NYT journo makes things up and the NYT publishes them.

[Quotes come from New York Times, "China's Business Elite See the Country that Let Them Thrive Slipping Away," 7 November 2022; "Chinese Business Leaders see country slipping away," NY Times Int'l edition, 10 November 2022, p 9; emphases added]

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