NBC is embarrassing itself with fawning Olympics coverage of China, a place that is being depicted as a virtual paradise. This blogger understands the Olympics are sport and that NBC does not want to offend its host (and risk being booted out of the country) by covering China’s environmental and human rights disgraces, but enough is enough.
NBC correspondent Mary Carillo is embarrassment No. 1. On Monday, she took viewers on a breathtaking trip across the blessed land, highlighting attractions such as the Three Gorges Dam, an ecological nightmare that ultimately will lead to the forced relocation of more than 5 million Chinese, and the world’s highest train that links Tibet to China, a connection that critics say is designed to root out Tibetan culture. Carillo praised both as marvels, and then happily went to Camp Panda.
Last night’s women’s gymnastics competition was another NBC low-point. Half of the six-member China squad is under the age 16, the minimum age to compete. The Associated Press and New York Times dug up the info in 2005, 2006 and 2007, according to USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan. Where was NBC? It was nothing, but rah-rah-rah.
On National Public Radio today, Brennan said it’s pretty common knowledge around the gymnast circles that China is fielding an under-age team. She noted the average weight of China’s team is 77 pounds compared to 106 for the Americans. A smaller body means a better gymnast.
Brennan said the three underage Chinese girls dominated the Americans on the uneven bars, where weight is especially important. The American team was leading the competition before the uneven bars. China won that contest, putting it in position to win the gold medal. It believes medals are worth more than fair play.
NBC is a unit of General Electric, which sees many infrastructure opportunities in China. The TV network invested $1B to cover the Olympics.
It apparently will shill for China to be sure of a nice return on that investment.