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[Washington Babylon]

NBC’s Olympics, Brought to You By Henry Kissinger


“Through NBC, GE has paid hundreds of million of dollars to broadcast the Olympics,” Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch said in an interview here recently. “Will we see tough pieces on NBC news and an aggressive effort to take full advantage of these temporary media regulations or is it all going to be sweetness and light?”

Based on the Opening Ceremonies, it’s largely going to be sweetness and light.

The NBC team was predictably vapid — Matt Lauer described the Central African Republic as “a republic in Central Africa” – but the person who really stood out was the network’s hired China analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, who couldn’t find enough wonderful things to say about China. China is “a nation is about to put a match to the fuse of a rocket,” Ramo, who will be providing “expert” commentary on Chinese culture and history for the duration of the Games, said at one point.

The website undiplomatic.net had running commentary on Ramo:

WTF. The children just handed the ChiCom flag to goosestepping soldiers. And the NBC commentator started yammering about the state being the guarantor of the children. Uh, okaaaaay…And the constant reference to harmony — and Josh talking about how important it is today was so annoying that Matt Lauer did not let it pass unnoticed. Sorry Joshua, but harmony also means jailing and torturing those who don’t go along. Did Josh just say that the Great Wall kept out Barbarians? Sheesh. Is this guy an NBC employee or a wholly owned subsidiary of China.

Ramo was equally awful during pre-Opening Ceremony shows. In one, Ramo said he had been struck by “such a tremendous, heartfelt effort at hospitality by the Chinese people and they would like to reach past all of the political barriers, past all of the disagreements that both sides know exist and try to touch, really, to some degree the key things that Americans and Chinese have in common. One of my Chinese friends said to me recently, `Where we are today would not be possible without America. If we hadn’t had the American example.’ And I think more than anything, they would like Americans to reach through the television set and try and see to some degree what China stands for.”

When Lauer asked Ramo if the Games would change China, he replied, “I think China is changed irrevocably after these 17 days. It is a full aware part of the international community and they know that their behavior in that community is going to have to be different than in the past.”

So who is Ramo? According to a recent piece in the Albuquerque Journal, he “works as a managing director and partner at the Beijing office of Kissinger Associates.” Which explains a lot.

Shouldn’t NBC identify Ramo as an employee of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is one of the Americans closest to the Chinese leadership and whose business involves opening doors for Western companies seeking to do business in China?

“I’m for engagement, I helped to set up Princeton’s summer program in China,” Professor Perry Link told me for my recent piece for the magazine, “The Mandarins,” which discusses the business ties between American foreign policy gurus and China. “The question is do you engage exclusively with the Communist party leaders, or is there a broader engagement. When people like Henry Kissinger talk about engagement, they mean black tie affairs with top government and business leaders, and those leaders are quite a different case from great majority of Chinese people.”

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