CNN scrambled to quietly edit an article repeating Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) propaganda Wednesday morning following backlash.
The article, published April 13, relies on a report from the PLA claiming that their Navy “has done a much better job controlling coronavirus than the US Navy.”
Portions of CNN’s write-up are extremely similar to the PLA’s military press release. The Daily Caller first reported on CNN’s PLA propaganda push using a blurb from their “live updates” page, which appears to have been published shortly before the longer, separate article that has since been updated.
The blurb on CNN’s “live updates” page and the article both solely used a report from the PLA. CNN’s blurb on the “live updates” page has not been updated.
“This story has been updated to include Pentagon reaction and recent developments in the Western Pacific,” an editor’s note from Wednesday morning now reads at the top of the longer article.
CNN or a press release from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army? Spot the difference: pic.twitter.com/goUaYpTQTj
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) April 14, 2020
CNN’s update came following backlash over the post on social media.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) April 14, 2020
There's so much wrong with this. For one, the PLA doesn't have an English-language website. It has this, which is a news website sponsored by the PLA. https://t.co/9Qy3vQotiE
— Isaac Stone Fish (@isaacstonefish) April 14, 2020
CNN’s article still repeats Chinese PLA propaganda, but the wording has since been edited to make the post appear more skeptical. The Pentagon’s statement, now included in the article, strongly pushed back on PLA’s claims.
“Senior US military officials have strongly pushed back on any notion that the US military is not prepared — even with the Theodore Roosevelt at least sidelined for now. ‘I don’t want anyone out there in the world to think that somehow the US military’s readiness is significantly degraded. It is not,’ said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” CNN’s article currently reads.
The updated article also includes “US observers” who “have cast doubt on the PLA’s claims that its naval operations have not been impacted by the virus.” These “observers,” who denounced PLA’s claims, were not included in the original write-up.
The updated headline now reads:
“[The story] explicitly states the sourcing as a PLA story and identifies the Global Times as ‘a state-run tabloid.’ That transparency is key as a global news source serving a global audience,” CNN’s Vice President of Communications Matt Dornic previously told the Daily Caller.
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller on if it still stood by the decision to push a Chinese state media report after editing the article.
The network’s write-up comes as distrust in China grows regarding the novel coronavirus. Legacy media has also come under fire for repeating Chinese propaganda amid the pandemic.
Author: Shelby Talcott