Custer’s Last Stand
Bloggers have described Beijing’s media brawl between CCTV Dialogue anchor Yang Rui and Charlie Custer, editor of ChinaGeeks, as a “flame war” between two hot-headed individuals.
Thecontroversy is hardly a personal matter when taking into account the agenda and insider connections of Custer’s employer and paymaster, Link Media/Link TV. Ample evidence and the back story, in fact, reveal Link Media Inc. connections with intelligence services.
Whatever prompted “Custer’s last stand”, his personal record does not indicate that he’s a shagadelic spy like Austin Powers, but just that he’s a “useful idiot” for media higher-ups who need suicide bloggers to make exploding noises to impress their government funders.
Charlie’s an English teacher from Harbin (according to Yang Rui’s blog) and, looking over the past two week’s unsightly mess, Custer has failed to become the next Jared Cohen, the State Department’s online brat who fomented the Jasmine Revolution.
Custer, the news commentator under a woollen cap, is listed as a regular contributing expert to LinkAsia, which produces a news program on DirecTV satellite in the United States. His reports for LinkAsia half-hour news program include:
- “Killings Expose China’s Hatred of the Wealthy”
- “Press Controls Tighten Over Beijing News (and) Times”
- “Fired Up Over China’s Limits on Fun TV”
- “China Faces Real Name Use on Sina Weibo”
- “The Saga of Wang Lijun”
- “Sina Silences Rumors While Angry Artist Speaks Out”
- “Rumors Abound on Chinese Internet”
- “Beijing Gears Up for an Atheist Christmas”
The last-cited story is a bit puzzling as a critique of China, since Macy’s also celebrates and cashes in on atheist Christmas shopping binges. As for hatred of the wealthy in China, was it not Deng Xiaoping who said: “To get rich is glorious”? Tragic end to Fun TV? “Supergirl” should have quit when it was ahead, instead of reeking of rigor mortis like “American Idol”.
Whatever the merits of his negative reporting, in his eyes there’s not a lot of good news emanating from one of the world’s cleanest capitals located in the world’s fastest-rising economy, when a cup of coffee is affordable to just about anyone and where poverty is diminishing, as opposed to cities like Athens, London, Sendai and Detroit.
Here again, as with Melissa Chan, balance didn’t have to be tossed out the window since it was never there in the first place.
If Beijing is really such a repressive and miserable hellhole, Ms Chan should be thankful to be in “free” Doha, which has the world’s highest per-capita income, surplus funds to donate weapons to Syrian rebels, peacefully governed under sharia law, and where not even a National People’s Congress exists to disturb an absolute monarchy.
Collect the dole and shut up – Qatar’s not a bad deal compared with China, where people actually have to work for pay – with the only hitch being you have to a Qatari citizen or an Al Jazeera staffer to qualify.
Al Jazeera feed and Soros cash
Notably, Link TV is the carrier for Al Jazeera channel in the U.S. The placement fees from Al Jazeera and ads from its fleet of royalty-owned corporations like Qatar Air, Qatar gas and Qatar Foundation contribute to Link Media’s $8.56 million in annual revenues.
Could the cash from the Gulf State be influencing Link TV’s editorial policy? A quick look at Link’s programming schedule reveals a gusto for the Arab Spring, which was jointly sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Emirate of Qatar. (Non-Arabic speakers should note: The definition of an “emir” is “military commander of the jihad.”)
Link Media Inc., which is registered in San Francisco as a not-for-profit organization, receives grants from:
- Open Society Institute (OSI), funded by billionaire George Soros
- Luce Foundation, a Republican Party dominated group that funds conservative causes (The late Henry Luce, publisher of Time and Life, was an ardent supporter of the Chiang Kai-shek regime in Taiwan, who funded the infamous “China Lobby” that promoted the “Two-China policy” and also backed repressive dictatorships in South Korea and South Vietnam.)
- Parsa Community Foundation, created by Iranian exiles, many of them supporters of the Shah
- Attar Supporting Organization, which promotes Muslim causes in the Caucasus
- other of its supporting foundations have reputedly served as conduits for funding from the CIA.
The Link operations are headed by its president Kim Spencer, who earlier co-founded Internews Network. Another co-founder of Internews is his wife, Evelyn Messinger, head of Internews Interactive who also served as the first Electronic Media Director for the Soros Foundation.
LinkAsia contributors besides Custer include: David Bandurski, head of the China Media Project at University of Hong Kong whose programs have received Soros funding; Pakistani Wajahat Khan, Shorenstein fellow at Kennedy School of Government; Cindy Sui, with BBC, AFP, SCMP and Central News Agency (Taiwan); and one of its advisers is Minky Worden, a program director with Human Right Watch.
Media Soldiers and Propagandists
A brief look at the background of Spencer and Messinger during their years at Internews offers insights into media operations on behalf of Western intelligence agencies. The statements in quotes are from its own publicity materials.
In 1994 “Internews launches the three-year Media Development Program to support the institutional and economic development of print and broadcast media in Russia. MDP grants support the first legal resource center for media in Russia.”
“With Sarajevo under siege by the Yugoslav National Army, Internews and the Soros Foundation run the Balkan Media Network, an early version of an electronic bulletin board and email system that connects 250 independent media organizations as well as ordinary citizens in the former Yugoslavia with the rest of the world.”
In August 2000 “The American Iranian Council and Internews sponsor a historic reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where members of the Iranian parliament meet with Members of the US Congress for the first time since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.”
In December 2004 “Independent media help lay the groundwork for Ukraine’ Orange Revolution, one of several ‘color revolutions’ in the region, including Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution.”
“Internews has developed special programs for training journalists how to report on conflict (Reporting for Peace ['a special training program for journalists who work in regions of conflict']). Meanwhile, Internews has expanded its activities into Africa, Asia and the Middle East.”
Its hefty budget for media-prompted subversion came from the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) under the USAID, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) as well as intelligence-related branches of NATO members France, Germany, Canada, Britain and Greece.
Wired Magazine noted in 1995: “The organization’s peculiar funding cycle follows a flow chart that might raise a few eyebrows among current American non-profits toiling hard for a few tax dollars.
Although born and bred a nonprofit, Internews funds for-profit TV enterprises half a world away, thanks to multimillion-dollar contracts from the Agency for International Development (USAID), effectively the US government’s foreign aid bank.
Along with this generous funding comes grants from more than a dozen foundations, including one handsomely endowed by financier-philanthropist George Soros.
Over the last few years, no other nonprofit, developing, post-Soviet media organization has garnered more American aid dollars than Internews.”
Democracy for hire, or subversion for corporate takeovers of foreign assets? For those who are curious about why the White House and George Soros are allied with jihadist Qatar the answer is: control over energy and banking of petrodollars.
Aside from the spooky side of media, let’s discuss rhetorical style for a minute. The cast of operatives from Soros and the shadowy arms of the State Department need to improve its presentation, especially during heated debates.
The outrage expressed in reaction to anti-foreign comments was cheap melodrama. Crying like an injury faker in a football match does not win sympathy in the media arena; it only proves that you’re a boy not a man.
As a journalist friend said about the tweet barrage against Yang Rui “They can dish out abuse, but they can’t take it.” The terms used by Custer’s friends over blogs and tweets frequently included expletives describing the male sex organ and excrement; while one particularly hate-filled tweet advocated the strategic placement of a fist.
These vulgar remarks only reflect the mindset of teenage hoodlums or prison guards in Guantanamo. My advice to overgrown adolescents who lack a basic sense of decency: Keep your fisting to yourself.
One parting shot: Charlie Custer did everyone a service by speaking his mind, though he should have done it with more tact, considering the image of what’s been called (by Americans) The Ugly American abroad.
Should his work visa be revoked? That’s up to the Chinese bureau that enforces press standards for foreign journalists and also the applicant Link TV, which is not in a great position right now to defend press privileges.
Should he be allowed to stay on a tourist visa?
What he’s done may constitute a failing in press standards, but Custer hasn’t committed a crime to be denied visitor entry, at least not one that I know of.
Then again, does he really want to stay in Beijing?
Like Melissa Chan, he seems to love life in the capital, but why then did he never have anything good to say about the place? It’s up to him, since he’s lucky enough to be free to explain himself to officials and choose what to do, compared to billions of poor people who can never afford the price of an air ticket.
Yoichi Shimatsu is former editor of the Japan Times Weekly and an occasional guest speaker on the Dialogue program.