NBC’s Olympics Decision is a Coward’s Game

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The CCP is banking on a veneer of normalcy. And NBC is only too happy to uphold it.

DisclaimerSince the writing of this piece, NBC has urged viewers to understand China's unique geopolitical situation. They still have not pulled their coverage and continue to propagate Chinese propaganda regarding the Uyghur genocide.

The media world isn’t a moral place to live. Standards of coverage aren’t dictated by the metric of right vs. wrong, but of popular vs. unpopular — determined more by what’s likely to attract viewership than what certain subsets of people may deem particularly moral at the time. To a point, this is a good thing; only covering good or morally upright things leads to a rosy and unrealistic view of current events and furthers disinformation. (There’s a good argument to be made that much of American media has the opposite problem, but that’s a different story.) Despite this depressing realism, it remains the case that American media do have an obligation, as voices in a free society, to use their power within the parameters of basic moral standards: don’t lie, don’t misquote, don’t infuse with hysteria, and don’t pretend like burning down city blocks in the name of “justice” is somehow rational or justified.

This gets dicey in the world of American domestic politics, and there are deep arguments we can have about how different outlets do or don’t live up to that coverage. An area that should be less dicey, however, is: how much we should support totalitarian lunatics committing genocide on the other side of the world? “Not at all” might be a reasonable response — until one of America’s major news outlets decided that it wasn’t.

Earlier this month, NBC announced that it would not be sending its announcers to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, keeping their teams home to call the events from their American studios. Was this NBC standing up to the CCP and the party’s brutal genocide against China’s Uyghur population? Was it a brave refusal to share the same stage with CCP advocates and give even a hint of legitimacy to China’s veneer of normalcy? To avoid waxing poetic: no, it wasn’t. It was because of “COVID concerns.” And the network is keeping a large portion of its presence in Beijing, including their lead prime time host, rendering this decision truly nothing more than a corporate decision based on public health directives.

Let’s be clear about this: is every life lost to COVID-19 a tragedy? Yes. Any life lost too soon is a tragedy. Which means that it is also a tragedy when innocent Uyghurs are tortured, sterilized by force, and subjected to crimes against humanity, crimes that an independent tribunal labeled as genocide in December of last year. That is a tragedy the CCP has had no qualms about perpetuating.

NBC had a chance to repudiate CCP atrocities. At the very least, NBC had a chance to leave its rationale vague so as to even offer a hint of repudiating CCP atrocities. As of today, they have elected to do neither. This is not a heroic, brave, or risk-seeking choice; it is a cowardly choice. It allows the CCP to broadcast lies to the civilized world, maintaining that absolutely nothing is rotten in the state of China — lies coming courtesy of NBC.

The Olympics have historically been a moment of global solidarity. That solidarity should have been, if anything, increased with the world slowly emerging from COVID to once again join together in its time-honored cultural traditions. This time, the Olympics are occurring through the power of a totalitarian state that is actively engaging in and covering up genocide, and American media outlets either too misinformed or too cowardly to take a stand against it. The reference may be “too soon,” but there seems to be none more fitting — a plague on both your houses.

Bio: Isaac Willour is a practicing journalist currently reporting for The College Fix, focusing on American politics and higher education. His work has been published in The Christian Post, The American Spectator, and National Review. He can be found on Twitter @IsaacWillour, on Instagram @unapologeticallyunafraid, and publishes regularly on Substack.

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