In today's tour of state-sponsored propaganda, Kim Jong Un is published outside of North Korea, China's media meets Sacha Baron Cohen, and a US ambassador causes trouble for the Beijing Daily. We begin in Pyongyang.
Kim Jong Un, International Author
North Korea's state-owned press is known for making up flattering things about its leaders. Kim Jong Il, for instance, invented the hamburger and routinely shot "3-4 hole-in-ones" every time he played golf. Now, with Kim Jong Un sitting atop the throne, it's time to nurture a new cult of personality. Today, that means hyping The Outstanding Leader's authorial genius. With this earth-shattering headline, the Korean Central News Agency is proud to report:
In a sign of how tough it must be to get some positive press attention, KCNA is now hyping an article in a little-known Bangladeshi tabloid called Blitz: Comprehensive Tabloid Weekly. This is sad for a couple of reasons. First, the paper didn't single out Kim's writing, it merely re-printed a KCNA story about an address Kim gave about land management. (Kim isn't even quoted in the article.) Additionally, if you search Blitz's website, it appears to just automatically scrape KCNA stories likes this one or this one or this one. Also what is Blitz? Not much is known about it online but according to Wikipedia it has a reputation for "publishing cheap, untrustworthy and fabricated stories." On its about section, it bills itself as "the only anti-Jihadist newspaper in the Muslim world" and, more importantly, the only paper you can trust. "In today's world, Weekly Blitz is considered as the only source of unbiased and untwisted information in the entire Muslim world." Well, who are we to rain on Kim's parade? Congrats Kim, you're an internationally-published author. Kind of.
Sacha Baron Cohen Is Loved and Hated in China
Remember when Sacha Baron Cohen spilled ashes on Ryan Seacrest at the Oscars in a stunt for his new movie The Dictator? Turns out, the Chinese media loved it. Adam Cathcart, for The Atlantic, writes:
When Cohen spilled a vase containing Kim Jong Il's "ashes" onto Ryan Seacrest ... the Chinese state media ate it up. The next day, various state-run newspapers included photos of Cohen prancing down the runway with the jar bearing Kim Jong Il's countenance.
Even the über-nationalistic Global Times had to admit Cohen was "the evening's hottest topic." But as Cohen's prominence rose, Cathcart writes, the negativity soon ensued after a number of viewers thought he was mocking Kim Jong Il. Per Cathcart:
Cohen's ash-laden Oscars antics brought out some nasty responses on Chinese social media ... "This guy [Cohen] is going on North Korea's blacklist -- so watch the news a few months from now, because he's going to be blown up." Among the collage of debates about U.S. free speech and assassination by aerial drones, other commenters critiqued Cohen on a Confucian basis, noting that dead leaders need to be respected even when you hate them.
China Loses Its Propaganda War Against a U.S. Ambassador
The official Chinese media don't like U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Lock. Not only does he make Chinese officials look ostentatious by wearing modest apparel (i.e. backbacks) and trying to get discounts at Starbucks, but he also helped out blind legal activists Chen Guangcheng when he needed it. As such, Beijing Daily made a point of criticizing Lock. But as The Christian Science Monitor's Peter Ford reports, it didn't go so well:
Lashing out at the US ambassador earlier this month for his role in protecting blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, the Beijing Daily published a strongly worded criticism of his “little tricks.”
But readers’ reactions to the editorial were so negative that within hours “Beijing Daily” was a banned search word on the Chinese Internet, effectively closing down social media debate on the article.That setback does not appear to have chastened Beijing Daily, however, and today the paper put its foot in it again.
In the following attempt, the newspaper's editors posted a question to China's Twitter-like service Sina Weibo: “Will Gary Locke please disclose his personal assets?” Unfortunately, it wasn't the distraction they hoped it to be:
The editors simply revealed their ignorance. As scornful readers quickly informed them, Locke HAS disclosed his personal assets, just like every other member of the US government ... “Of course Gary Locke’s personal assets have been disclosed,” read one comment on the Beijing Daily post. “And what about the assets of those imperial officials [of ours]?