Authoritarian regimes dream through propaganda and so, to see what they're fantasizing about, we regularly check in on what state-controlled media outlets have been churning out

China's had it with Ambassador Locke's whole humble routine

Ever since Gary Locke (pictured with his family above) became the U.S. ambassador to China last month, the Chinese public has been buzzing about Locke's modesty--as encapsulated in his flying economy class, lugging his own luggage around a Beijing airport, waiting in an hour-long line at the Great Wall, and toting a backpack while trying to use a coupon at a Seattle Starbucks. Locke has "won the public's heart with humble acts that are rarely seen among Chinese officials," The Christian Science Monitor declared this week. 

But has he won over China's state-run media? It doesn't look like it. News outlets are attacking the idea of Locke as a foil to China's overly indulgent officials. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Communist Party paper Guangming Daily warned on Friday that the U.S. could be using a Chinese official like Locke to practice "neo-colonialism" and "control the Chinese and incite political chaos in China." Today a Global Times editorial argues that Locke's actions are not "evidence of cleanness in US politics." Locke, the tabloid explains, "is not as plain as described, and "Chinese media should be calm and rational" when writing about him. "It is unbelievable that Locke's casual stroll through hutongs with his family could win so much praise," the editorial hisses. "The fact is, innumerable high officials, whether in the US or in China, would enjoy the same activity."

Zimbabwe's sad Chicago story

State-run news sources don't typically write about humbling experiences for government officials, but today The Herald did exactly that. In an article entitled, "Mayor's Chicago Trip Flops," the paper explained that Muchadeyi Masunda, the mayor of the capital, Harare, had traveled to Chicago to establish a "twinning arrangement" with Chicago, only to end up meeting with "junior officers" because Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a "pressing engagement" outside Chicago and Governor Pat Quinn "was preparing for an overseas business trip." Masunda, who did return to Zimbabwe with 5,000 pairs of shoes donated by a Chicago nonprofit, blamed the fiasco on poor planning by the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who accompanied Masunda on the trip. An earlier Herald report entitled "PM's Chicago Boob" blamed the group's cold reception in Chicago on a "bogus organization" run by exiled Zimbabweans to a "dubious event" called the Zimbabwe Trade and Cultural Expo. And therein lies the explanation for why The Herald may have published these embarrassing stories. Tsvangirai, after all, is President Robert Mugabe's most prominent rival.

For Syria, it all comes back to foreign media conspiracies

There's currently debate about whether Wadah Khanfar, the news director for the pan-Arab news network Al Jazeera, resigned tthis week because of WikiLeaks disclosures suggesting that Khanfar modified Al Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war to appease the U.S. But the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, which has developed a logo to run with every story it publishes on the foreign media conspiracy against Syria, has another theory: Khanfar was finally exposed for orchestrating the Arab Spring: Khanfar "resigned on Tuesday after he was found directly in contact with the US intelligence as well as fabricating news on the events in Syria, Yemen and Libya," SANA reported yesterday. Analysts tell SANA in a follow-up that Khanfar may have been a "scapegoat" given that "many Arab satellite channels have played a key role in what is taking place in the Arab countries, including the intimidation and killing of the innocent people."