NBC's Unreality Show

Five days in, and I'm getting that sinking feeling.

Oh, sure, the sports fan in me likes what I'm seeing (Michael Phelps: pretty good, huh?). And yes, the pictures are gorgeous, from the steadicam flyovers of the Great Wall (all hail HD!) to the underwater shots at the swimming arena. But the journalist and human being in me isn't quite so amused. It's what NBC hasn't, and probably won't, show that gives me pause.

Political protests? Not on this channel; no sir. Beijing's fearful pollution? Maybe, but only if a marathoner coughs up a lung or it spoils a beauty shot. Doping scandals? In passing, perhaps. Tibet? China's role in Darfur? Now, wait just a second. . . The aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake? Why be unreasonable. . . Tiananmen? Mao's barbarities? No, and hell no.

Okay, that's not what the Olympics are about. The Olympics are basically a big international sports festival and global media event attached to a massive corporate marketing opportunity. I've got no problem with that. But they're not not about those other things, either. Especially these Olympics, which are freighted with as much political baggage and extracurricular significance as any Olympiad since Moscow in 1980 -- whether NBC wants to own up to it or not.

The closest NBC has come to addressing any of these issues during primetime was during Bob Costas's solid interview of President Bush on Sunday (this would be the interview in which Bush said, "First of all, I don't see America having problems."). Costas also slipped in a couple of references during the Opening Ceremonies (he seemed particularly exercised about China's denial of a visa to Joey Cheek, the Darfur activist and former American Olympian, but hasn't said much about it since).

Apart from these glancing shots, however, NBC has succeeded in screening out anything unpleasant -- that is, anything newsworthy -- during its first five nights of coverage. Indeed, it has gone in precisely the opposite direction. NBC has depicted China as only the People's Chamber of Commerce could, showing us a prosperous, harmonious and deeply beautiful nation, swathed in culture and garlanded by history.

For two nights running, NBC's chief China promoter has been correspondent Mary Carillo, who has presented two of the glossiest travelogues imaginable. On Monday, she breathlessly reported on China's wonders: Maglev trains! World's tallest man! The Great Wall (which, Carillo said, can be seen from outer space -- although it's not clear if it can). She even oohed and aahed over the massive Three Gorges Dam, offering some astounding statistics about its construction but not a word on the 1.5 million people forcibly removed from their homes to build it. All that was missing was a feature on panda bears.

Carillo got to that on Tuesday night, first going all warm and fuzzy about the critters and then all wink-wink-wink about the Chinese program to mate them (awkward and non-hilarious moment: Her suggestion to a perplexed Chinese official that male pandas might offer "Whitman Samplers" to females during courtship).

Can't we expect more? No, I'm sure we can't. Not with $900 million in TV rights payments on the table. Not with hundreds of millions more in sponsor commitments. As my esteemed colleague Michael Wilbon pointed out in his Web chat on Tuesday, it's probably too much to expect NBC, or any broadcaster in partnership with a sports league or team, to give you information and insight into serious issues involving said league or team. Wilbon's advice: "Read The Post and The New York Times and other responsible newspapers with reporters and columnists who are unafraid."

I'm sure he's right. But just once in the next two weeks, I'm hoping for something more than a postcard. I'm hoping that NBC might let just a little bit of reality peak through the unreal haze of Beijing.

By Paul Farhi  |  August 13, 2008; 2:20 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Yes, we chinese are nazis. Yes, here we screw everything. Yes, we are the people who voted for bush and encouraged him to invade Iraq. (have you forgotten that place and its athletes paul?)

And yes, Three Gorges Dams, yes, 1.5 million people, ooooh, so many victims, but do you know that I am one of 100 million people (including those 1.5 million) whom Three Gorges prevent yearly flood from and these flood kill hundreds each year?

Sorry Paul that you are unhappy because china in reality is not what you have in mind. And glad that NBC or many people like me, chinese or foreign, don't see the same side with you.

Posted by: Chinese Translator | August 13, 2008 3:28 AM

ha ha
What a disappointed man.
Paul, Have you heen to Beijing ? I am enjoying this game in Beijing and I come from Hong Kong.

This is a modern , beautiful and prosperous city ---Beijing !

Posted by: Lee Yaw | August 13, 2008 5:06 AM

Haha, a prosperous city?? Only because you Hans forced out the homeless and bulldozed their shanties to put up brand new buildings. Pretty easy to do when the government is a totalitarian state.

Also pretty easy to test 4-5 year olds and force them into sports programs at a young age. Hey, isn't that what the Soviet Union use to do before it broke apart?

History my friend doesn't judge oppressors well.....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 5:13 AM

Well, well, this anonymous lady or gentleman, have you come here? have you seen here? do you know chinese language? or tibetan language or anything you prefer? How do you know those whose old, out-of-date homes bulldozed, are not paid fairly? how do you kown those 4 ~ 5 year olds' chinese parents are willing to send their children for sports program for a better future just as any amercian parents'd like to send their pretty children to Hollywood?

Ignorance to the world ousside of its wall is one of the reasons Roman fall apart.

Posted by: Chinese Translator | August 13, 2008 5:37 AM

NBC's coverage has been horrendous at best. I'm tired of "recaps" of Michael Phelps, gymnastics talked to death, etc. What about OTHER sports? USA got a surprise cycling gold yesterday, along with a surprise silver in equestrian. Why didn't we see those instead of an hour of talking by announcers, or yet ANOTHER hour of beach volleyball!?! Anyone else sick to death of beach volleyball? Where are the other sports? Martial arts, wrestling, boxing, cycling, rowing, etc.? Or aren't they good enough for primetime? I don't care who wins, I just want to see LOTS of different sports!

Posted by: East Coast Mom | August 13, 2008 8:27 AM

aha, this article shows me the thoughtway as: the author keeps his mind with the biase of China and always refuses to refresh it; whoever shows the reality different with what he has, the immediate reaction is: how can things like that? it must be wrong, unreality, liar, blala...

Hi man, open your eyes...

Posted by: Traveller | August 13, 2008 8:35 AM

newsflash, you can watch the olympics online with no commentary--lots of sports: rowing, basketball, whitewater paddling, wrestling, weightlifting and others. No talking heads, no commercials, no intrusive agenda-slanted interviews, just lots of sports. It is about the athletes, the "Human drama of athletic competition" as it were. It is almost as good as being there. It shows us wghat TV could be if it were to be liberated from corporate control.

Posted by: Crabby viewer | August 13, 2008 9:12 AM

NBC has, for many years in recent memory, turned its Olympics coverage into a commercialfest interrupted only by "American sports" and jingoism to keep as many viewers as possible watch its 3-week commercial marathon.

Posted by: Matrixman | August 13, 2008 9:30 AM

I've been monitering NBC's news coverage from Beijing as much as broadcast rights will let me. While certainly NBC is not attempting to compete for a Pulitzer for its coverage, I have seen a number of segments that directly address the issues you claim are ignored, such as Brokaw's retrospective on the past thirty years, including Tiananmen Square.

Furthermore I don't really see a much of a difference from previous Olympics coverage, which are always flattering to the host country and light on expose journalism. I don't seem to remember anything more than scant references to Grecian politics during the Athens games.

As someone who has lived in China on and off over the past couple of years, I find that the reality of China is vastly different than the perception of it from those abroad. I've been both impressed and concerned by the changes in China but find that foreign interest, reflected in your post, is often limited and ignores the complexities and contradictions that make China what it is today. The "unreal haze of Beijing" that you are looking to peek through is more that the hot topics that you bring up. Tibet, Darfur and pollution are serious and well documented issues but the problems of growing social inequality and corruption are ones that often go unnoticed. In addition, to ignore the progress I have personally witnessed over the past few years here and to consider all positive coverage and analysis as propaganda is a bit too cynical and also a departure from reality.
Lets hope more segments reflect the many facets of reality in Beijing and challenge out perceptions, rather than catering to official pressure or the audience's expectations.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 9:39 AM

Wow, and NBC failed to note there are Commies everywhere. Glad you found the obvious, but I think NBC is there to cover a sports event, not a political event. The appearance of President Bush and Soviet leader Putin notwithstanding, it is a sports event. Do the TV nets tour the Detroit slums when they cover the football game there. How about how blacks are mistreated in the south during Superbowl events in Florida.

Posted by: ed | August 13, 2008 10:12 AM

under your criteria, the next time the olympics are held in the u.s. we should expect the bbc et al to focus on our history of slavery, jim crow, our treatment of the indians, etc. do i have that right, paul?

Posted by: jeffrey | August 13, 2008 10:22 AM

What a pathetic article! This guy knew Beijing has been doing a terrific job hosting the Olympics. He tries very hard to belittle China and fight different and unrelated battles. Such a typical spoiled cry baby.

Posted by: Go Olympics | August 13, 2008 10:25 AM

All you hacks responding at the behest of the Chinese "government" should know that indeed, we don't care what your oppressive, third-world-regime-in-schmancy-clothes leadership thinks.

Afte the Olympics, just go back and enjoy your pollution, your lack of freedom and your lead toys. Thank you.

Posted by: What, can't take it? | August 13, 2008 10:27 AM

To "Chinese Translator" a.k.a. a gov employee paid to submit state sponsored propaganda.

Your different from Nazis in the regard you kill your own (i.e. non-Han) where the Nazis were trying to exterminate non-Germans...oh wait then you are the same. You do screw everything, I've paid to see it here underground, it's wonderful.

As for the dam, meh it ain't working anyway, and why don't you just move so you don't drown? Oh that's right your residence permits make it hard too.

I live in Beijing. I know Chinese. The old out-of-date homeowners aren't paid anything even close to the cost of the land they are on, at best they can buy a smaller prefab on the outskirts of the city far from anything good.

Parents who give their kid up to the system are, like you said, trying to give their child a better life, then they find out what really happens: at most 1 week vacation to visit family, training pains that never go away, and meager subsidies that don't reflect actual cost of living. Unless of course their child gets gold, but what about the other 200,000 that do not get gold? A lot wish they could take the decision back.

Oh and to answer a question you will ask: Why don't I just go home? Because your education system is so poor that after 15 years of daily English classes you still pay through the nose for someone with no actual teaching skills to correct grammar that a 5 year old can say correctly. I love my LIFE in China, I make more and live better than in the States. I sometimes like Chinese people, but not a lot, the government can suck it.

Oh and the wh*res! Biggest standing army, and more prostitutes then soldiers, cheap too. But they are mostly gone because of the Olympics...

But on a different note I can't wait for the Olympics to end, it's been horrid living here and the respect China was trying to earn was tainted long before they started. This city has gone from a police-state with privileges for foreigners to just...well...a police state.

Posted by: English translator | August 13, 2008 10:35 AM

Among other things, I don't like the fact that the Chinese admire westerners too much and treat them like God. Any jerk with a foreign look can come to China and make a great living. Back home those folks may not even find a decent job and will live well under poverty. Don't get me wrong, I know most foreigners are nice and respectable people. But there are exceptions.

Posted by: Way to Go | August 13, 2008 11:18 AM

@Way to go

Re: "exceptional foreign people" you mentioned

You wouldn't be referring obscurely to "english Translator", now, would you? ;-)

Posted by: jackl | August 13, 2008 12:29 PM

Michael Phelps is a self-engorged jackass.

Posted by: Mark | August 13, 2008 12:41 PM

Basketball baseball softball soccer tennis are sports people like to watch. I don't get it. Why don't they show some of these? Beach volleyball water polo I guess so but once would be enough.

Posted by: Fudd | August 13, 2008 1:29 PM

the price i pay is deciding to turn the volume up enough to hear the two flat faces commenting on the events. flat faces expound with flat commentary. that they are anonymous is a bonus.

Posted by: william of san antonio | August 13, 2008 1:58 PM

Paul Farhi operates under the same vein as most major media of examining everything else that's irrelevant to the event itself.

In the U.S. presidential primaries, nearly all broadcast journalists have consistently sought after micro tangents that deal with personality and not politics.

Some papers have exposed the 2008 Olympics' opening ceremony, and many have jumped on the story afterwards. That's when it's appropriate to talk about larger issues regarding politics - but not simply for their own sake with this subject.

Posted by: A world without big-J Journalists | August 13, 2008 4:05 PM

Nice job with your reporting on the WWWT change in format. DCRTV reported it a day and a half before you did and you most likely stole their information without giving them credit.

Posted by: Jay | August 13, 2008 6:12 PM

most chinese don't even know about the games. as for the government sponsored translator here, well, the less said the better. i pity the poor tibetans when the cameras are gone in 2 weeks, let the slaughter begin.

Posted by: jim | August 13, 2008 8:41 PM

Anyone else sick to death of Mary Carillo? Holy cow, her commentary is horrendous.

Posted by: Joe | August 14, 2008 2:31 AM

Mary Carillo? That guy creeps me out.

Posted by: fly | August 14, 2008 9:37 AM

Mary Carillo... he is a scarry, scarry man. Also, wow the Chinese party member or whatever at the top of the comments. I guess china pays people to scour the internets for articles talking naughty about them.

Posted by: Me | August 14, 2008 10:09 AM

Everyone knows that Paul is 100 percent correct. China literally--literally--has a horrible human rights record. The country suppresses basic human freedoms. The country has routinely roughed up journalists at this Olympics. They lied about the girl singing in the opening ceremony--yes, a big deal, because it's just blatant lying. The opening ceremonies were faked on television. There are constant questions about the ages of the Chinese gymnists. The country just roughed up a British journalist yesterday, August 13. They are lying about their human rights record. The country suppresses basic freedoms. They are Communist, in 2008, for God's sake. China has been sited as a major homeland security, cyber security and intelligence threat by none other than the Defense Department, the Homeland Security Department and the Bush administration. And the country's record of shoddy and illegal and uninspected manufacturing is fact, and has been reported in hundreds of stories during the last two years. The country has a long way to go on many levels. The worst mistake was to award this country the 2008 Olympics. It was a huge, horrible mistake.

Posted by: thefrontpage | August 14, 2008 10:23 AM

I'm more critical of he comments poeple seem to make. Not just the article stating it's facts or the poeple stating theres. I am interested in why people need to even discuss this stuff. The article says something about how post and times are not afraid but yet they don't say boycott the olympics because they are afraid of the repurcussions from the readers and there employers. The chinese seem happy to make sure even it's own poeple don't know whats going on. Seems like a lot of 1 finger at you 4 more back myself type thing. But you keep on with your senseless yapping.

Posted by: this is farked up. | August 14, 2008 11:42 AM

Dude, NBC led their Saturday coverage with news of the American being murdered over there. Top of the broadcast. If you're gonna criticize the coverage, you gotta watch all of it, not zip throught it on the TiVo.

Posted by: roy | August 14, 2008 12:48 PM

NBC has done an admirable job with its Olympic coverage. It has touched on China's political history and some of the news-related issues that have surfaced (the murder, pollution, etc.). But it has not become so immersed in these periphery concerns that it departs from the type of programming that appeals to its core audience. I'm a news junkie, but I don't watch the Olympics expecting brutally honest public affairs analysis between Michael Phelps' golden moments. I would prefer politics were entirely separate and I still feel for those athletes denied the chance to compete in 1980 because this didn't happen.

What captivates people like me who've watched the Olympics since childhood and now watch it with my own children? The spectacle of the ceremony, the unified front of athletes from all corners of the world pursuing a common goal, the "thrill of victory, the awe-inspiring tales of athletes who've overcome adversity, rare exposure to lesser-known sports, glimpses inside the culture of a host country we likely will never be able to afford to experience personally--all of those warm and fuzzy, "up close and personal" moments that Mr. Fahri seems to despise but that solidified the career of the late, great Jim McCay and made the Olympics much more than a typical sporting event. There's no shame in the escapist, feel-good entertainment provided by NBC's coverage of the Olympics. Bring it on!

Posted by: Newsbabe5 | August 14, 2008 1:30 PM

Funny how the racist writer is mad. Typical racist hack. Just angry because u lost to USA and we are the best? Most golds? I love it!!!!!!!

I found a better article here!

Posted by: Chinese Proud!!! | August 14, 2008 1:39 PM

EVERYONE on this page forgot what the article is really about... NBC's coverage of the Olympics games. IT IS NOT TARGETING THE CHINESE PEOPLE, THEIR GOVERNMENT OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER. So all you of who took this the wrong way just need to shut up and keep your racist views to yourself.

Posted by: Wow... just wow | August 14, 2008 1:45 PM

China is the host and it's social etiquette to respect the host. If people attend an event only intending to find fault with the host, they have a character defect. Still hope you are not one of them.

American and other western media are never short of China criticism, often biased. Seems you are brainwashed and addicted. China certainly has its problems. Thoughtful and balanced views are respectable, such as the one by Anonymous.

Posted by: Perspective | August 14, 2008 2:07 PM

1. everyone has seen how the chinese are robots

2. they have to make everything seem perfect

3. nbc broadcasters when interviewing people ask them hard questions that would result in controversial answers (ala Bela Karoliy) and shy away from them once they are said. and the today show hosts are afraid to criticize the chinese when they announced how they swapped girls in the singing of the chinese song when the flag was carried out because the girl WASN"T cute enough!!

4. They show how the chinese government found about 200 girls that were all ALIKE (which isn't hard to do) to present the medals.

5. they pay people as volunteers to go into the stands of empty venues and teach them how to cheer and to fill up seats.

6. the american broadcasters have probably been forced not to criticize and to make the chinese look good in every move they have made including the fake chinese passports given to 3 members of the chinese girls gymnastics team which there is proof cited from the chinese GOVERNMENT in the new york times article and many other resources

7. nbc has done an awful job giving LIVE coverage to everyone in america besides the West Coast because they dont think americans will want to watch it at 4 pm.

Posted by: I hate Robots and Cheaters | August 14, 2008 2:11 PM

There are some truly moronic posts here. There is so much paranoia about the Chinese. I think the American Media is just as big lying scumbags as the chinese government is. Just the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: Carl | August 14, 2008 2:20 PM

It amazes me that bloggers here regard everyone who's not 100% critical of China a communist.

And yet almost all who have come to China know there's a huge difference between the real China and the one portrayed in western media.

To somebody who's living here in China but doesn't like the people: Get out. You're a disgrace to human beings.

Posted by: wooddoo | August 14, 2008 2:24 PM

NBC is like any other network. Their goal is to have the most viewers possible, and exposes on China won't get that done. It's not their responsibilty to comment on the problems of the Chinese, only to broadcast these Olympics, which are supposed to be free of politics.

Posted by: Hey | August 14, 2008 2:39 PM

What can we expect out of Washington Post, the most infamous long-term hard-core China basher? There is an old Chinese saying: "Nobody expects ivory out of a dog's mouth", or another one "A Dog can never change its instinct of eating his own feces".

Merely 30 years ago, China was a closed, backward, distressed, and poverty-stricken country with political and social chaos, and was at the mercy of the handouts from the Euro-American nations.

Today, less than 30 years later, China has made itself self-sufficient to be able to provide just enough food and moderate improvements of life to its 1.3 billion citizens, instead of receiving handouts from the Euro-American nations.

Can you name ANY other single country in the world that is able to accomplish this simple but monumental task? Of course you cannot because there is no one else can, but China and the Chinese people.

The Washington Post is political hypocrites like the rest of the "China haters" in the Euro-American nations, I am sorry if the human rights for the most basic life survivorship in 3rd world country like China are foreign concepts to you.

I am also sorry that it troubles those "China haters" like WP deeply that the Chinese people are the happiest people in the world and have the highest approval rating for their country's leaders, as a recent pull shown.

To WP and the rest "China bashers", I can see your anger and animosity towards China as the Euro-centric, Euro-dominated World Order is slowly being changed by a 3rd world country of another race: China, and the "China haters" like WP all clearly have problem with that. At this moment of the world’s biggest debutante, the "China bashers" like WP wants to crash the party, I never expected less from someone like WP or the rest of hard-core "China haters" in the Euro-American nations.

No doubt that China has growing pains, or as the "China bashers" like to call them "problems". However, Rome was not built in one day.

To the writer Paul, you did another yawning biased and retarded "analysis" on China and Olympics which reflects WP’s long-term nailed-in negative stands on China. You are on the right career track. Keep it up!

Posted by: Park_Cafe | August 14, 2008 2:41 PM

I am, for one, very impressed with the effort, and creativity that have gone into this package. Every last country that has the honor of putting on an Olympic venue has put up thier best face and effort. A short break from the drama, and depression of the day to day news is a pleasant distraction. To at least allow, and watch these people, from all over try their best, BE THERE, in that moment in time, is wonderful to see for a change. There is a reason they are call'd GAMES - remember - their efforts are at the very best of their ability - it's not about you, and how you see it, - its all about them, their effort, their families, their time we get to share with them. Get behind it and get on with it - GO games and those in the world who participate!

Posted by: CWS | August 14, 2008 2:52 PM

i think most people agree that the olympics should be about the sports, fair competition, and the atheletes. the IOC was right when it said that we should focus on the spirit of the games. why are you now demanding that we introduce political and economic issues into this pure event? what reason is there? journalism should cover it all? true, but this coverage is on the olympic games. if this were news coverage of demonstrations, economic forums, then i agree with you. i think you are ignoring the spirit of the games and the pureness of sport.

Posted by: canadian | August 14, 2008 3:26 PM

Just imagine you are invited to a party. You are dressed up (because you want to look good as most people want to), and you bring a bottle of wine as a good gueture. Your party host has done as much as they could to make their house as pleasant as possbible and presented the best food for the guests. Here you come to the party. But somehow you have an agenda so you sneak down into their basement to inspect their 50 year-old house (just because you enjoy inspecting more than being a good guest). You probably will not be invited to the party anymore...

Posted by: Good Neighbor | August 14, 2008 3:33 PM

It is so funny to see people living in their cage and never notice the world has changed.

Leave him alone, let him bark. He can't bite us not for a bit.

Posted by: ashes | August 14, 2008 3:41 PM

To Park_Cafe's comments, thank you and I agree with you 100%.

To "English Translator", you are no different than those "prostitutes". You smile and interact daily with the Chinese people you hated so much in Beijing in order to have a job. Poverty is number one reason that drove poor and ignorant people into prostitutes. This is a worldwide issue that even rich nations have.

You are hating the Chinese because of the Chinese governments treating its own people and other ethnic in China??? Then, I assume you hate all the Africans, Muslims, and more because according to the media, they don't treat their people well too. Then, pretty much, you hate most of the people in this planet.

To all the china haters, I advise to put your resources in bringing world peace together and create less hate and conflict. We've had enough hate against each other in this world.

Posted by: Go World | August 14, 2008 3:52 PM

Paul Farhi... his name sounds like a terrorist. Somebody go bomb his house. hehe.

Posted by: Zhang Ziyi is hot! | August 14, 2008 4:07 PM

Well everything was fine until Paul had to include the last part in his article, where he couldn't resist giving Don Graham some serious ass-kissing, or horse rear-end petting (pai-ma-pi) as we say in Chinese. Did he realize that WPO actually owns a number of NBC affiliated TV stations in the US? So be careful where you are planting your puckered up lips because, besides getting some brownish matters on your nose, you risk getting kicked in the groin. “Pai-Ma-Pi-Pai-Dao-Ma-Tui-Shang” Ask your Chinese friends, if there is any, what does that mean.

Posted by: PaZhuLian | August 14, 2008 4:31 PM

HA! I disagree. I have yet to see or hear NBC reports events I like to see LIVE that have a huge hype for China to win. Instead of showing a positive China as you have suggested, NBC has chosen to sensor China's events as if to protest China and the Chinese athletes' win over the Americans.

When NBC or any American newspaper covers the Chinese athletes, they condemn them and they don't let go of anything that might take the Chinese down. Like how they are not letting go of the age of the Chinese gymnasts. Big boey! I am twenty going to thirty. I am under five foot and I look so young that I am often mistaken to be a middle schooler. My height nor my physical features nor the youth in my face lessen my intelligence nor does it make me a baby.

Sure, the Chinese government is not with all that freedom and equality, but don't be a critic when Americans are doing the same thing, the VERY SAME THING but WORSE to Philippines and Guam and etc etc etc, taken at least one country per year since the 1900s. Remember, Hawaii. And HOW MANY Olympics have the Americans hosted? Yet fails to see and listen to the genocide they play parts in?

Posted by: Rebecca | August 14, 2008 4:31 PM

Thank you for bring it up, Washington Post!! Someone has to speak up.
I noticed that NBC is not only ignoring China's political and ethical issues, but also is cheering for Chinese teams more than necessary, maybe even more than they cheer for the USA team. The game of badmington between USA and China was a good example. The Chinese team was on the screen approximately 3 forth of the time. I think I only saw the face of one of the USA duo twice during the entire match. And then they immediately began the coverage of a football game between China and Brazil... It could be just because the cou ntry is hosting the Olympics, but I don't recall NBC cheering exclusively for Italy or Australia in the past Olympic games.
Well, NBC probably is a communist network after all. It's just sad that NBC is the only network that provides a full olympic coverage. We have to put up with their biased views.

Posted by: Lily08 | August 14, 2008 4:57 PM

Pfft, now being critical of the way a country treats its people is being "racist" - I guess it is true that you have to check in your right to have an opinion at the door at Beijing.

Posted by: Jarnor | August 14, 2008 4:58 PM

Paul is dead on. The Chinese athletes may be better than the rest of the world, and the people of China aren't the ones who are the evil doers. It's the Chinese government, which has killed more people, including its own, than even Hitler. For those who say politics shouldn't be brought into the Olympics, they're typically correct. But in China's case, it's hard to forget about the women in Darfur who are raped and mutilated as a form of terrorism, not to mention the millions who have been killed as part of an ongoing genocide that China supports. It's hard to get into a beach volleyball match when you realize that the most peaceful people and religion in the world have been held hostage for decades, killed off and beaten on a regular basis. It's hard to watch gymnastics when you hear about thousands of baby girls that are slaughtered because parents can only have one child, and if it's a girl, they lose their family name. Nevermind that the Chinese government has allowed us to be poisoned by high levels of lead in much of the items they send over or the millions who were foced out of their homes for government projects like the dam mentioned about. China has a right to be communist if they so choose, but they don't have a right to slaughter people around the world because they don't fit into their view of things.

Posted by: frankied | August 14, 2008 5:44 PM

I disagree with your article.

NBC has been broadcasting events that the USA excel at - swimming, beach volleyball, basketball, etc. They do not broadcast the less popular sports because it may not get them the ratings they want. If you want to watch the sports that are not broadcasted, go online and watch it there! NBC is not a charity organization and is thus organizing their programming to maximize profits through higher ratings.

Although NBC has not been criticizing China for its foreign policies with Tibet or Darfur, should they be? The spirit of the games is simply nations getting together to compete and celebrate the achievements of others. It was not meant to be a platform in which nations should be criticized for their human rights policies, foreign policies, etc.

I was born and raised in Canada. I went to visit China for the first time last year and many of my preconceptions of the country were dispelled on that visit. Until you've seen the progress they've made or come to understand the Chinese culture and the advancements, you will always be predisposed to judge based on the negative publicity China has been receiving.

I must agree with others in that the host country is always complemented and is always in the spot light. I don't see why the 2008 Olympics should be any different.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 6:08 PM

Sure Frankied, Paul's lips are right-on Don Graham's hiney. And your lips are RIGHT-ON Paul's. We get the picture. ;-)

Posted by: PaZhuLian | August 14, 2008 6:09 PM

If the Olympics were being held in the USA this year, I can guarantee there would be broad international (including China) coverage of Iraq, the Mortgage Meltdown, etc. right alongside the positive coverage. And we would be ok with that being a free country. But the Chinese govt and their culture is all about saving face and never admitting mistakes. That why most Chinese US university graduates, while often super smart, aren't worth a damn in a risk taking culture like American Business.

Posted by: Joe Bob | August 14, 2008 6:12 PM

I have never been a reader of Washington Post, and won't be if Paul Farhi can be considered a columnist in WPO. Paul, we are not hosting a GOP convention in Beijing, China. It is an Olympic Game for world athletes to compete. If you don't like sports, then go back to write your sh*ts else where. NBC is doing a fine job covering this Olympic in China with a focus on American athletes as they should be. As a courtesy to the host nation, they are showing China today, its people and culture. Being part of one of the largest global companies, GE, NBC should be maximizing the commercial value of their investments. Thus, if NBC decided not to cover non-sports related news, then they have the right to do so to maximize profits with their air time. If WPO is given the similar oppotunity, then it will pursue the same way as NBC. There is many other media coverage about China’s political and economical policies including some fine objective PBS series recently. I simply do not see the reason to politicize Olympic Games. Do you think that people want to relive the Olympic boycotts in the past? We should move on with the time, 21st century, not World Wars, and Cold Wars eras in much of the 20th century. Enjoy the sports, GO world athletes!

Posted by: Jim | August 14, 2008 6:14 PM

Chinese government spoiled the Olympic event by faking almost everything possible: passpost, fireworks, singer, audience, air pollution resuls and even judges! Whatever chinese say in the news defending their totalitarian government would not help. It is too late now to hide now!One Game, but two world.

Posted by: Liu | August 14, 2008 6:37 PM

NBC sucked broadcasting Opening Ceremony. NBC commentator noted that dust from Gobi desert in Beijing caused air pollution. He thinks he is so smart. What shame!

Posted by: Bd | August 14, 2008 6:45 PM

Liu, I am not sure that is your real name. Any ways, it seemed that you do not have the ways and means to see the game in person, or you have an old analog TV. Instead, you can only read about negative stories about China this and that. A saving tip for you or any one, book a trip post Olympic, to see the real China including the game venues. It should set you back not many US dollars with over supplied fancy hotels and still strong dollars. Get out more ...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 6:49 PM

I am totally agree with Lili08.

Posted by: Bob | August 14, 2008 7:00 PM

I am chinese. I came from Harbin, Northen China. And I am so happy that I was able to escape from China. My kids, grandkids and grandgrand kids would be so thankful to me. I am never going back to China again not even for millions of dollars same as many other chinese immagrants

Posted by: Liu | August 14, 2008 7:08 PM

It would be interesting to watch NBC broadcast of volleyball tomorrow. Chinese star Jenny Lang Ping is coaching US team.Whould she be booed or cheered? Hopefully, NBC can show some of the audience.

Posted by: Bob | August 14, 2008 7:42 PM

@Joe Bob,
Yeah, sure. Why taking that risk running a business in the America when you can take American businesses and their jobs, including yours in the near futrure, and relocate them to China.

Posted by: PaZhuLian | August 14, 2008 9:59 PM

I'm not an apologist for China, but the two times that I've been there in the past 18 months, the government really doesn't factor as much into workaday life as you would think. The big cities are a lot more Western feeling (unfortunately) than reports would have you believe. Also, does every story about the US talk about Iraq, prisoner torture, homelessness, etc.? That would be pedantic. The Olympics are a sporting event and should be covered as such. There are a million stories in China worthy of the news columns, but I've seen plenty on NBC News over the years. I think your criticism is more than a little simplistic.

Posted by: Garbanzo | August 14, 2008 10:11 PM

Jenny Lang Ping would be cheered... Chinese love her.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 14, 2008 10:38 PM

The organizers had to choice but to "fake" (i.e pre-record) the fireworks. Beijing shut the skies down that night for the opening ceremonies for security reasons....

Regarding the 1.5 million that was removed from their homes: the govt built new cities and housed these people. They are living in much better conditions than they were in before...sure sadly some of the heritage is underwater now.

However, the flood control and a source of cleaner energy supply far far far outweighs the negatives.

I dunno...having free press is nice. But then there are unprofessional journalists, like yourself, who just blab stuff out before doing any research.

Posted by: nomad | August 15, 2008 8:27 AM

Oh, that was Mary Carillo? She could use some dog-brain soup. Give her producer 2 bowls.

Next Olympics, TV should split the coverage. NBC could cover the American teams, and a real sports network could cover the actual Olympics.

Posted by: Mike Licht | August 15, 2008 5:04 PM

the author must be paranoid like some american folks here. america is nothing but show.show is nothing but money. and money is nothing but to deflate fear

pathetic sore losers

china is winning the world, in spite of these manipulated bashing

Posted by: soreloserisusa | August 16, 2008 1:47 PM

China is guilty of all these things and more, but the Olympics are an opportunity to focus on the positive. I'm fine with that. I just hope NBC will actually report the news objectively in the future.

A bigger problem is the huge pass China gets all the rest of the time.

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Posted by: Muckbeast | August 17, 2008 4:46 AM

interesting to read some of the posts, and to see the "ugly american" in print.
as to nbc coverage: not too much has changed, whether it is beijing or athens or.. it is two weeks of bob costas' solipsism punctuated by prosaic and often-incorrect commentary. that notwithstanding, these are games, people, and many of you would be well served by not getting your "news" from a blog. the amasing chinese juggernaut, which has pulled itself up by its bootstraps in thirty years, is a force to be reckoned with, and has done a beautiful job of building the showpieces required for state of the art centers for athletic endeavour, whatever the flag of the athlete. sure, there have been a few hitches. there are problems in a wedding reception for three hundred people. multiply that by the x factor of the olympics and it is a marvel to behold. all of these venues put almost any others to shame. could the us have built the bird's nest and all of the other complexes on time, on budget, and functioning properly? i doubt it. we have too much a sense of entitlement to break our backs in a collective effort, and everyone is afraid that someone else will work less than they will. sure, china has issues. so do we. lots of them. we still have one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, despite all of our "riches." we have a legacy of thinking that some people are more equal than others. we insert the corporatocracy whereever we feel it serves us to do so. we have toppled governments all over the world in an effort to make money for the few on the backs of the poor and voiceless. and what the hell are we doing in iraq? china has improved by leaps and bounds, and we had better work on trying to understand this country and this people with whom we share the planet--and scarce resources--and work with others, instead of against them. we are one of the few countries on earth who has not spent their history being invaded by others. think about how that would evolve over time.

and can we just give the chinese a hand for the technology in the opening ceremonies? and the artistic energy behind it as well? we need to shake hands with china, and understand that this is a work in progress.

one more thing: after katrina, do you think we are so awe inspiring? china mobilised for the earthquake victims in a way that should leave us envious and them proud. when you beat your chest think of all of those people we left to just figure it out for themselves, or die, or both--and how, for many of them, their lives are still shattered, while we are planning all the new golf courses and so on that will go onto the land that was freed by the evacuation of the poor. and yeah, our infrastucture is sure a marvel. those dams and levees are awesome.

and no, i am not communist or anything like it, and i served my twenty years in the army sometimes more proudly than others--but you have to have a little integrity, people, and equanimity. this is not the american century. you had better readjust your shot group.

Posted by: washington deecee | August 18, 2008 1:49 AM

I laugh when I read these comments from you stupid f*cking goobers who have never traveled outside of your sh*thole trailer park.

Posted by: Wang Bang | August 18, 2008 2:38 PM

I don't recall much coverage of America's human rights atrocities when the games were held in this country. The same can be said for games held in Athens, Australia, etc. Oh that's right, western countries don't commit human rights atrocities, unless of coarse you ask their powerless victims. I'd prefer that Olympic coverage focused on the athletes, who in many instances have worked their entire lives for this moment. But if we are going to make the Olympics about atrocities of the host countries, let's apply that rule to every host, not just the BAD, COMMY, ASIANS.

Posted by: chris n. | August 19, 2008 9:00 AM

You China bashers make us Americans look bad. Your ignorance about China's "problems" make you look like fools. There is a reason behind any action, and EVERY NATION HAS FLAWS (not only China, but especially the USA). Human rights record? Meh, you'd be a hypocrite if you are an American criticizing the Chinese. It's common sense that people in different parts of the world do things differently. Not everyone can run their country as GOOD as us Americans (sarcasm intended). Your lack of cultural understanding and acceptance is why you think everything should be done as the Americans do it. It doesn't work that way. China has changed unbelievably from 20 years ago, and yet you still bash its government as if it were like Soviet Russia. Not even close. Go back to school and pay attention this time because your views are flawed. Bad.

Posted by: BC | August 20, 2008 2:28 AM

The 2008 Olympics on US TV: just a few US athletes competing with another few Chinese athletes in a handful of sport categories. Nothing is live, nothing is what it seems. No other nationality is represented. The sports categories are limited in the extreme. What a sad, disorted, untruthful state of affairs...

Posted by: Tish | August 20, 2008 8:53 PM

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