On Shaun Rein: A Shameful Journalist

Christian Bale’s attempted visit to Chen Guangcheng has been bouncing around, with reactions generally varying from “that was awesome, good job Bale” to “that was awesome, although CNN really should have kept a bit more distance from the story.” Personally I take the first one, although I can understand why some people think that it might be somewhat off, journalistically speaking.

Now, enter Forbes writer Shaun Rein, famous on the Chinese blogosphere for his repeated attempts to carry water for the Communist Party:

Bale and CNN’s publicity stunt indicts an entire political system without delving deeper into the reality of Chen’s detention and the interplay between the central and local governments. I have no idea about Chen’s detention, and if he is being wronged or not, but if there are issues with his case, I am not convinced that calling the entire political class “disgusting,” as Bale does, can help.

The last thing the world needs is increased tension between the world’s two superpowers. CNN should be ashamed for becoming more like a tabloid and inserting itself into the story rather than maintaining journalistic integrity and providing an objective view of its subjects.

His entire article is filled with pathetic attempts to sell his upcoming book and his marketing company, but these two paragraphs really are the highlights. In case you didn’t notice- Shaun Rein, China journalist, has no idea about Chen’s detention. Take a moment and think about that. One of the biggest stories in China today, which has been going on for months, and which has attracted international attention to the point where non-China centric Hollywood stars like Christian Bale are going out on a limb to get involved… Rein has ‘no idea.’ Is Chen being wronged? I don’t know, maybe there’s a really good justification for taking a blind lawyer you don’t like and his family and keeping them under illegal house arrest for months. I just can’t make a call on that, because I’m an absolute moron.

Realistically Rein probably isn’t stupid, just propagandized and willfully ignorant and surrounded by incentives to not notice things like this. Unfortunately for him Peking Duck and ChinaGeeks have both picked his statements apart mercilessly:

And then he puts up another of his signature straw men: “They didn’t called President Obama evil for what that one officer did, or call for an overthrow of all of America. Yet Bale did that in China’s case….” Did Bale call Hu Jintao evil? Did he call anyone evil? Did he call for the overthrow of an evil Chinese government? Did we watch the same video? Shaun, as usual, is simply making things up so he can get on his moral high horse. This is straight out of the Anti-CNN playbook.

So there we have it; calling China to the carpet for its shit threatens fragile global relationships so we should shut the fuck up and keep things status quo so marketing companies can keep making money. Sorry, but I’ll take CNN’s journalism over this any time.

And from ChinaGeeks, guest-written by Tom from SeeingRedinChina:

When I pressed Shaun on his ignorance pertaining to Chen’s detention, he said again that he would not comment on something he had no knowledge of. The documentation of Chen’s abuse has been widely reported for nearly three months. To have “no idea” about it seems like he is feigning ignorance, otherwise he must have only been reading People’s Daily (even Global Times reported on Chen). It’s fine that he isn’t convinced that Bale calling the system disgusting is helpful, but how can he complain that CNN didn’t delve deeper into the reality when he himself has no idea about it?

Both rebuttals are worth a read. I’d hope that getting panned like this would encourage Rein to think a little bit harder before writing this kind of slop again, but he’s gotten called on it in the past and never stopped.

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Filed under activism, enforced disappearance, media

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