Fake interview

Posing as an applicant for the new post of Pilates Instructor, I sneaked into the South China Morning Post’s new headquarters over the weekend. As you would expect of a high-tech trendy company, the place offers a fitness zone (ping-pong table, yoga mats, a surprising number of punch-bags), an in-house acupuncturist, massages, pet-grooming facilities, a Mandarin-medium crèche with goose-stepping for toddlers, and a luxury café. Also, a very convincing-looking British-style pub – with its own brand of beer (a quite decent IPA).

On a darker note – there’s the Punishment Chair, in which disobedient staff members are disciplined…

As staff unpack their boxes, the mood is somewhat subdued. Not everyone is impressed by the paper’s latest scoop – a forced confession ‘interview’ with kidnapped and re-kidnapped publisher Gui Minhai, hosted by Beijing’s security forces. For objections, see here (with links to other background) and here; some might say hmmm or think bad-karma-for-not-fact-checking; reporters’ responses here and here.

The main complaint is that the media accepting the invitation legitimized the grotesque display, enabled the Communist Party’s propaganda machine to achieve its purpose, and arguably abetted a human-rights abuse (assuming Gui’s performance followed some form of torture).

The press could justify going on the grounds that the event was indisputably a news story and it would have been unthinkable not to attend. But are they chasing the truth or helping to spread lies? The SCMP report blandly conveys Gui’s statements without a hint of skepticism (his tale suggests serious concocted weirdness), but at least quotes an Amnesty International guy suggesting it was rehearsed.

Of course, under their Beijing-friendly ownership, the SCMP and Oriental Daily exist to serve the Chinese party-state’s interests in cases like this. They wouldn’t have been invited to this stunt otherwise. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Dragging journalistic ethics into this is beside the point.

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6 Responses to Fake interview

  1. My eyes catch the phrase “propaganda machine” for some reason.

    Your slip is showing.

    How much do they pay ou for your services? They really ought to be paying you something at MI6 or the CIA. I guess you do it for free. You have gone native. How happy they must be. And you have so much natural cover.

    My book is shaping up. Keep on supplying. The least I can do is to give you enduring fame.

    Pip, pip!

  2. Stephen says:

    Perhaps a Pilates Instructor may have thought to ask Mr Gui Minhai how he managed to slip out of Thailand without his passport? His daughter, Angela Gui (BBC Newsnight) confirms his passport was left in his home in Pattaya.

    Next time I’m on holiday in Thailand and feel the overwhelming urge to go to China, I wonder how far I’d get if I left my passport at the hotel?

  3. Fat Fook says:

    The real story here is why is the SCMP splurging on a trendy office in a prime location? A period when other newspapers are failing and are in consolidation.

  4. Chris Maden says:

    I think the SCMP’s values in the photo above say it all: “Together. Transparent & Trustworthy”

    Together is neither a noun nor a verb, so can’t be said to qualify as a value. But I suppose what their management consultants want us to believe is that SCMP is a bunch of fearless journalists who Together aspire, despite the full stop, to be Transparent and Trustworthy.

    What the values can also be read as saying is that it’s Transparent that the SCMP is Together as one with the CCP, and that the CCP regards the SCMP as a Trustworthy means of disseminating its propaganda.

    In the latter, they have succeeded. In the former… nah.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    In regard to the Fanling Golf Course controversy (HK housing emergency vs. Elitist Self-Entitlement Exercise), why doesn’t Carrie Pearl Necklace simply ask the Almighty to tell her what to do ? Or perhaps Mike Rowse can give her a call and pretend to be God. She’s probably too thick to tell the difference anyway.

  6. Jeff says:

    I see that narcissistic has been unfunny douche bag Docta’s Ordures.

    Your criticism of Hemmers falls flat when he lets you post and spam your garbage website on every page of his site.

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