Journalistic Timidity

Recall the People’s Republic of China expelling three Wall Street Journal journalists over their article headlined China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia that an outside contributor to the WSJ had written.

Here’s the cynicism of the PRC detractors of that headline;

The phrase “sick man of Asia” was used by outsiders and Chinese intellectuals to refer to a weakened China exploited by European powers and Japan in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

What the phrase also harkens back to, and which was the referent used by the WSJ headline writer, was the disaster that was Turkey 100+ years ago: the sick man of Europe.  The phrase also goes to a more recent usage: Germany as the sick man of Europe as its economy was in long-term stagnation during the late middle 20th century.

The complainers’ decision to focus on the one, much older, interpretation while carefully ignoring the newer referents illustrates their own determination to find things by which to be offended so they can deprecate others.

The timidity comes from the WSJ‘s own journalists.

Some Journal staffers have signed an internal letter calling on the newspaper to apologize for the headline to anyone who was offended, while condemning the expulsions and pledging not to allow the Chinese government to influence the Journal‘s coverage.

Nonsense. No one serious was offended, so no apology should even be under consideration.

On the other hand, opinion often offends, especially when it’s logically formed and supported with fact, so no apology should even be under consideration. The truth often offends, especially when it’s the whole truth, and not just a carefully edited subset of it, so no apology should even be under consideration.

Even were an apology warranted, a legitimately done one couldn’t possibly include weasel-words, or excuses, or “you were wrong, too” claims.

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