by Norman Solomon
American Reporter Correspondent
April 7, 2001
WASHINGTON -- One of the ways to test for media slant is to put th= e shoe on the other foot. A big story this month provides an opportunity fo= r inquiry in the world of intense media spin.
Here are some excerpts from actual U.S. news coverage of the ongoing E-3= affair, in which a U.S. spy plane off China collided with a Chinese fighte= r, downing the plane and killing the pilot and forcing the U.S. planeto lan= d on the Chinese resort island of Hainan. I've made only one type of change= -- I've reversed the references to China and the United States. The mirror= -image narrative is worth pondering.
ABC World News Tonight: "There are concerns about national security and a Chinese military flight crew that was forced to make an emergency landing= during a surveillance flight along the East Coast of the United States. Th= e Chinese spy plane was equipped with sophisticated intelligence-gathering technology."
CNN: "Chinese military officials say that they are, first an= d foremost, concerned about the safety of the crew. They want that crew ret= urned back to China."
CBS News: "China's military agency insists this plane was 40 to 50 miles= off the coast of New Jersey, and if that's true, then the Americans are to= blame. But if the Americans say, 'No, that plane violated our air space,' or, 'Sorry, we have to hold the crew and the plane while we investigate thi= s incident,' well, then this could get ugly."
ABC's Good Morning America: "There is a major story now going on -- a ve= ry troubling international incident. It has been more than 35 hours since a= nyone has heard from the 24 Chinese -- 22 navy, one each from the air force= and marines -- forced to land on Long Island."
The Associated Press: "China is keeping three destroyers in the vicinity= of Long Island, where a Chinese Navy spy plane landed after colliding with= an American fighter jet."
CNBC News: "Chinese diplomats are scrambling t= o smooth over tensions with Washington after Sunday's midair collision betw= een a Chinese spy plane and an American fighter jet."
CBS Early Show: "Fr= ustrated Chinese diplomats are trying to secure the release of a spy plane and its crew from the United States."
The Associated Press (headline): "A= s American Military Might Develops, Friction With China Grows More Likely."
NPR's All Things Considered: "Chinese surveillance aircraft for years ha= ve flown around the United States monitoring radar transmissions and eavesd= ropping on American communications. And the Americans routinely send their own jets up to follow the Chinese aircraft around. But China says these cat= -and-mouse games have become more dangerous in the past few months with the= American fighters acting more and more aggressively."
The New York Ti= mes: "American fighter jets have flown dangerously close to Chinese rec= onnaissance planes over the Atlantic near the East Coast several times in r= ecent months, prompting complaints from Chinese officials to the Americans,= senior Chinese officials said today."
Los Angeles Times: "The sei= zure of a Chinese Navy spy plane by the Americans could cost China vital in= formation about how America's military operates and might inflict wider dam= age if Washington shares China's secrets with other potential adversaries, Chinese defense officials and experts said yesterday."
PBS NewsHour With Jim Lehrer: "China's President Jiang Zemin today deman= ded that the United States return a Chinese Navy surveillance plane and its= crew. It collided with an American jet fighter early Sunday off Long Islan= d in New York and had to make an emergency landing there. The fighter crash= ed at sea and its pilot was missing."
The Christian Science Monitor (headline): "America's Demands Prol= ong Dispute".
Scripps Howard News Service: "Family members of the crew of= the Chinese Navy spy plane held captive in the United States are filled wi= th anxiety, fear and rage."
The Associated Press: "Anger and impatience b= egan surfacing Tuesday among friends and loved ones of 24 Chinese spy plane= crew members still confined at an American military base."
San Franci= sco Chronicle (headline): "How Yangzhou Mom Told Kids Daddy Is Captured= Spy."
The Wall Street Journal (editorial): "The status of the downed Ch= inese Navy reconnaissance plane and its crew on Long Island remains unknown= , and the onus is clearly on the Americans to clarify their intentions... .= Washington attacks the notion of a 'pax Chinacana' in the Western Hemisphe= re, even calling bilateral security alliances threats to stability... . Ame= rica's more enlightened leaders now need to move quickly to prevent a small= incident from escalating into a dispute that fans the flames of nationalis= m."
Norman Solomon's latest book is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Me= dia." His weekly syndicated column focuses on media and politics.