NBC takes heat for reporting on China’s ‘in-your-face response’ to US during Olympic opening ceremony

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The 2022 Winter Olympics got off to a politically charged start on Friday when Beijing tapped a Uyghur athlete to participate in the opening ceremonies, and House Republicans accused NBC News of “spewing the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda.”

Beijing kicked off the Games with a “pared-back but visually stunning opening ceremony and a defiant message to the world leaders boycotting it,” NBC reported, noting that President Xi Jinping officially declared the 2022 Winter Olympics open after a short snowflake-themed show emphasizing youth and “ordinary people,” and a display of fireworks.

“The final step was to deliver the ceremonial flame, a moment that often carries symbolic weight-based in part on who is selected for the task,” the network reported. “Chinese officials chose two athletes, one of whom was Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a Uyghur cross-country skier from the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.”

Bear in mind the U.S. initiated a diplomatic boycott of the Games over the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghur ethnic minority. Beijing has denied persistent allegations of genocide against the largely Muslim community.

“This moment is quite provocative, it’s a statement from the Chinese President Xi Jinping to choose an athlete from the Uyghur minority,” NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie said during the opening ceremonies. “An in-your-face response to those Western nations, including the U.S., who have called this Chinese treatment of that group genocide and diplomatically boycotted these games.”

While the spin was subtle there, NBC contributor Andrew Browne, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, was a little more direct.

“It’s worth remembering that while Western countries may be boycotting these Olympics over human rights issues, China styles itself as a champion of the developing world, and it has plenty of support in countries from Africa to Latin America where its investments are building up local economies,” Browne said.

This being a reference to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure development strategy in these regions.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee slammed the network for its coverage of the opening ceremonies.

“NBC is spewing the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda during the Olympics. Democrats are passing a ‘China’ bill that doesn’t actually hold the CCP accountable. Americans know this: No one was tougher on China than President Trump!” read a tweet from the group’s official Twitter account.

Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University Law School professor, responded to the opening ceremony to remind his followers, “China is crushing freedom in Hong Kong, threatening invasion in Taiwan, and wiping out a minority population. All of the decorative laser-beamed snowflakes in the world will not cover up that reality.”

He had plenty more to say:

The online response to the story was intense… here’s a sampling of some of those responses from Twitter:

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