NBC opened its broadcast of the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing Thursday night, and the network has already been widely criticized for multiple instances of pushing a Chinese Communist Party line on political issues.
Many Western governments, including the U.S., are conducting diplomatic boycotts of the games due to China’s human rights abuses across its territory, particularly in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. NBC has addressed some of the concerns on the broadcast, but analysts on the network have lauded some of China’s policies and called the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang “alleged.”
On the broadcast, one NBC commentator said that while Western governments are boycotting the games, China “styles itself as a champion of the developing world” that has heavy support from Africa and Latin America for its investments there.
NBC just casually working as a mouthpiece to push Chinese Communist propaganda. pic.twitter.com/8M45pyaTKN
— Kassy Dillon (@KassyDillon) February 4, 2022
China chose a Uyghur athlete to light the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie called the move an “in-your-face response” to countries like the U.S. that have “called this Chinese treatment of that group genocide.” (RELATED: Putin Meets With Xi Jinping As Tensions Rise With US Over Ukraine)
The network has featured some China analysts to offer political insight as part of their coverage of the games. One of them, journalist Andy Browne, pointed out that many governments and human rights groups “allege that this is a massive program of social engineering aimed at suppressing Muslim Uyghur culture, language, tradition, identity,” but added that “the Chinese government emphatically denies all of this. They say that accusations of genocide are the lie of the century.”
Those comments were panned by some viewers, who accused the network of “both-sides-ing” the issue of oppression of a religious minority. (RELATED: Meghan McCain Slams Olympics That’s ‘Spreading Propaganda For A Regime’ That Killed ‘6 Million People’)
.@NBCNews both-sides approach to the Uyghur genocide:
“Western governments… allege… a systematic repression of Muslim Uyghurs”
“It has to be said that the Chinese government emphatically denies all of this. They say that accusations of genocide are the lie of the century.”
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) February 4, 2022
Not everyone on the network took a China-friendly line in their coverage. Mike Tirico, a longtime sportscaster and football commentator for NBC, made it clear that the U.S. accused China of “committing genocide on the Uyghur Muslim population.”
“The United States government is not here…”
“…citing China’s human rights record and the US government’s declaration that the Chinese Communist Party is guilty of committing genocide on the Uyghur Muslim population in Western Xinjiang region.” pic.twitter.com/7gIGtge1By
— Weston Blasi (@westonblasi) February 4, 2022
The U.S. opted for a diplomatic boycott of the games, but still sent a delegation of athletes. China’s genocide against the Uyghur Muslims has been confirmed by a number of reputable international organizations, and the U.S. officially declared the oppression a genocide under the Trump administration, a definition the Biden administration has stood by.