In the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, readers got an extra special message from the Chinese Communist Party.
The liberal rag ran a paid insert from China Daily, a CCP-controlled news agency that has spent millions of dollars on foreign influence operations in American newspapers.
The most recent eight-page advertisement was called “China Watch.” The piece was designed to look like a newspaper column that just so happens to compliment China and promote CCP policy goals.
This week’s stories suggested that the United States and China should maintain a positive relationship despite diplomatic and economic tension surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Suspiciously – or perhaps not suspiciously, considering the source – any critique of the Chinese government’s handling of the pandemic was absent from the narrative.
“Decoupling supply chains imprudent, say experts,” one story says, arguing against a push from some U.S. policymakers to make America less reliant on crucial supplies from Chinese companies.
Another story quoted former Bush administration officials who stressed the importance of a strong China-US relationship.
While the ad does include a disclaimer stating that it was paid for by China Daily, it looks exactly like a “real” article to the untrained eye.
Though the L.A. Times technically didn’t do anything wrong, many Americans feel extremely uncomfortable with U.S. newspapers publishing Chinese propaganda.
Many conservatives have been critical of the mainstream media for giving the Chinese government on Coronavirus and decades of human rights violations. Though there is no direct proof that the financial relationship with Beijing-controlled news orgs has influence over the non-advertising portions of these American outlets, it is certainly something to watch as these #fakenews outlets become more and more strapped for cash and reliant on foreign ad buys.
The Department of Justice requires organizations like China Daily to register as foreign agents of the Chinese government and they disclose payments. Over the past several years, they have paid nearly $20 million to U.S. media in the past several years, including over $650,000 to the LA Times.