DANIEL VAUGHAN: CNN and MSM win gold for regurgitating North Korean propaganda

February 12, 2018

“Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics” is one of the lead headlines on CNN about North Korea’s appearance at the 2018 winter Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. A real corporation, claiming it’s not fake news, is reporting to the American public North Korean propaganda without even a whiff of criticism. And they weren’t alone…

Media coverage uncritically embracing and lionizing Kim Jong Un and his family is just the latest in a long history in giving a free pass to communist dictators. (The same journalists who consider themselves like firemen, running towards the real story as if it were a fire.) Instead, American journalists are nothing more than useful idiots, a phrase coined by the Kremlin to describe brainless communist sympathizers who repeated anything the USSR wanted.

And when I say CNN wasn’t alone, I’m not joking. The Washington Post: “The ‘Ivanka Trump of North Korea’ captivates people in the South at the Olympics.”  ABC News, “North Korea’s 200-plus cheerleaders command spotlight at 2018 Winter Olympics with synchronized chants.” Reuters, “North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at Olympics.” The New York Times, “Kim Jong-un’s Sister Turns on the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight,” although it should be noted, the Times started out running the headline: “Kim Jong-un’s Sister Upstages Mike Pence at Olympics.” There are countless other examples of the media fawning over the North Korean regime.

Aside from conservative media, the lone voice of reason you’ll find among journalists is coming from Buzzfeed News, who ripped apart all of the celebratory stories from other storied institutions. Let that sink in for a moment. Buzzfeed, the site built on listicles and clickbait, is more honest about North Korea than nearly every other news company in the US!

If you need a moment to put your head back together after exploding from the realization Buzzfeed is the lone voice of reason in the world, I understand. Take your time.

North Korea isn’t even subtle about the propaganda. Many of the same media organizations reported before the Olympics began, that US officials knew North Korea planned on using the Olympics as a propaganda platform. It started with the North Koreans using NBC’s Lester Holt air a piece that might as well have been from the North Korean tourism board. Every positive article about North Korea or the Kim regime is blatant propaganda.

While the US media fails to understand these fundamental facts, South Koreans are far more clear-eyed. You’d think American journalists would take cues from those living in the region. Take, for example, an editorial in Chosun Ilbo, one leading newspaper in South Korea:

It would of course be wonderful if the Moon Jae-in administration’s efforts lead to denuclearization talks, but Kim Jong-un is not sending his people to Pyeongchang to talk about disarmament. He is sending them to weaken sanctions and spread propaganda

Weakening sanctions and spreading propaganda, with the help of useful idiots in the American press. One just cannot repeat what the North Korean government says without a critical eye. You have to take everything a regime hostile to the United States says with a grain of salt.

There’s a reason Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, is getting good media coverage. She’s Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea. She’s responsible for pumping out all media and press praising her brother and the North Korean communists.

Her propaganda helps cover up the dastardly deeds of the North Korean government. Some of which, we got a taste of during the President’s recent State of the Union address.

Arguably, one of the most powerful moments of the President’s speech was when he told the story of Ji Seong-ho, a man who lost his hand and leg from a train accident. The North Korean government actively tries to harm and murder those with disabilities, and they frequently broke his crutches. He escaped to South Korea where he currently carries those crutches as a reminder. He received a standing ovation from the President and Congress.

Kim Yo-jong’s propaganda also helped cover up North Korea’s role in murdering American citizen Otto Warmbier. President Trump told Warmbier’s story in the State of the Union, describing how the North Koreans returned Warmbier brain dead and unresponsive. Warmbier would likely have a different take on North Korea’s leadership.

The stories from American media lauding the singers, dancers, and athletes from North Korea ignore the terror these people live in every day. Those same reporters overlook the history of assassinations of people across the world, or the missile tests South Koreas and the Japanese endure.

The lavish praise the media has heaped on North Korea isn’t an isolated event. Whether it’s Walter Duranty whitewashing massacres by the USSR, the positive press Fidel Castro and Che Guevara got in Cuba, or the friendly platforms Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, and now Kim Jong-un receive, the American media consistently embraces the role of useful idiot for despotic regimes.

Many journalists may lament the rise of “clickbait” or “fake news” websites, but at least those sites aren’t carrying water for despots. It’s crucial to call evil what it is, whether the Iron Curtain, the Evil Empire, or the Axis of Evil. Recognizing evil is essential for a nation’s moral identity.

Instead, the so-called gatekeepers of America’s news repeat propaganda. That’s the very definition of fake news. And unfortunately for Americans, journalists are fighting over the gold medal in this fake news category.


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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.