Monday, January 13, 2014

Media Bias re North Korea

Image: Reuters
Just a brief post on how western media treats news on North Korea. Journalists and writers permit themselves an insulting bias when representing the DPRK, and sometimes this extends to gleefully perpetuating wild rumors and blatant libel. Like I keep saying, there are plenty of entirely valid crimes and human rights violations to play up, without needing to resort to name-calling and gossip.

The problem with this is that it precludes nuanced understanding. When western media claims that all of North Korea does or thinks something, it conflates the iron-fisted regime with dozens of millions of people starving and imprisoned throughout the countryside. Those people deserve our sympathy and assistance, but slandering them all as "the enemy" impedes real understanding.

In this case, here are three bodies of quotes of Dennis Rodman, a popular punching bag who represents himself poorly when given a microphone. These are the quotes the Associated Press pulled from his media conference in the Beijing airport:
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry I couldn't do anything," Rodman told media on his arrival at Beijing airport from a weeklong trip. "It's not my fault. I'm sorry. I just want to do some good stuff, that's all I want to do."

"This is not a bad deal," he said. "I want to show people that no matter what's going on in the world, for one day, just one day, no politics, not all that stuff.

"I'm sorry for all the people and what's going on, I'm sorry," he continued. "I'm not the president, I'm not an ambassador, I'm just an individual that wants to show the world the fact that we can actually get along and be happy for one day."
Now, this is a section of those quotes from NK News, an analysis and commentary site based in South Korea that really works hard to gather all the information and form a reasonable perspective.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything,” he told media at Beijing airport. “It’s not my fault. I just want to do some good stuff, that’s all I want to do. I’m not the president, I’m not an ambassador, I’m just an individual that wants to show the world the fact that we can actually get along and be happy for one day.”
The crucial thing here is that NK News did not include the line that made Rodman sound most unintelligent. Why was that sentence so important? Was there some crucial information in that copy that absolutely needed to be retained? None that I can see, but the opportunity to make Rodman look even more ridiculous.

Lastly, here's a body of quotes from CNN. They don't match the others, and it's not clear whether they were pulled from the Beijing assembly or prior drunken rants:
"I'm sorry for what's going on in North Korea, the certain situations," Rodman told CNN on Monday after arriving at Beijing International Airport from Pyongyang.

"I'm not God, I'm not (an) ambassador, I'm no one," he said. "I just want to show the world the fact that we can actually get along in sport. That is it!"

[Rodman and players] had tried to "do something good for the world."

But Rodman said he was sad that "everyone is trying to break this down, to push it on me."

"I don't know why," he said. "I haven't done anything wrong. Nothing wrong!"
Look at those quotes, and look at the above two. Decide for yourself how you feel about the speaker or the situation based on how each source represents it.

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