Federalist Writer Excoriates Papers Taking Ad Money From China, Forgets to Mention the One That Publishes Him

Federalist Writer Excoriates Papers Taking Ad Money From China, Forgets to Mention the One That Publishes Him

If you want an example of selective outrage from conservative media, look no further than this bit of rage-bait by Mark Hemingway at The Federalist.

Hemingway is all ginned up about China Daily and its questionable relationship with The Washington Post, a subject that has periodically bugged him since 2013. And in one respect, you can see why.

China Daily is a newspaper put out by the Communist Party of China. As The Guardian reported last year, it is part of that nation’s worldwide propaganda network dedicated to presenting China in a positive light. As part of this push, China Daily has over the years struck advertising partnerships with various American newspapers. So every once in awhile, readers of those publications will find a four- to eight-page China Daily insert included with the papers’ daily edition. As Hemingway puts it, “communist propaganda delivered straight to your doorstep for a fee.”

So despite the disclaimer below the masthead clearly stating that the insert is a paid advertisement, one can understand why this might bug subscribers. Hemingway says it drove him at some point to cancel his subscription to the Post.

But the partnership continues. And that, combined with the standard Federalist obsession over the alleged corruption of the mainstream media, is the jumping-off point for Hemingway to wag his finger at outfits such as the Post for taking blood money, or something:

Of course, in recent years we’ve been subject to endless preening from journalists about “fake news” and their renewed commitment as truth tellers. The Washington Post even adopted the slogan “Democracy Dies In Darkness.” We can argue what this metaphorical “darkness” is supposed to be, but democracy literally dies in oppressive communist regimes.

Endless! Preening!

But it is not just the allegedly liberal-leaning papers that regularly attract the ire of writers at The Federalist that publish this paid advertising.

In fact, what Mark Hemingway fails to mention is that China Daily has a similar content arrangement with The Wall Street Journal, a paper that publishes such noted conservative luminaries as…Mark Hemingway.

And not in the distant past, either. Here is a Hemingway column in the Journal just last month. Here he is promoting a Journal column written by a co-founder of The Federalist, Sean Davis.

Now, journalism is not a well-compensated endeavor and we all need to pay the mortgage. But surely Hemingway is no happier about taking blood money from Chinese Communists than he is supporting with his subscription money other papers that also take it.

There are a few other ironies here. One is Hemingway’s hectoring the Post for taking money from China when it is owned by Jeff Bezos (“It seems unlikely that they are going to fold if they refuse to run communist propaganda,” he sniffs at one point) when he is presumably cashing a check from Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of the Journal.

Another irony is that he is presumably cashing a check from The Federalist co-founder Ben Domenech, who once was caught writing favorable opinion pieces about the Malaysian government without disclosing he was being paid by a public relations firm retained by Malaysia for his work. At least two outlets for which Domenech wrote these paid opinion pieces later removed them from their websites, citing Domenech’s failure to disclose he had been paid by the Malaysian government to produce them.

Note that this lack of transparency over publishing PR as opinion columns is a standard Domenech has carried over to The Federalist.

Anyway, back to Hemingway. Elsewhere in his piece, he hits the Post and The New York Times for similar advertising arrangements with something called Russia Beyond as they have with China Daily:

The American media’s Trump-Russia hysteria of the last few years gains some real perspective when you consider that they are more than willing to take blood money to distribute publications that whitewash authoritarian crimes. […]

Nonetheless, if that rises to the level of meriting indictments, shouldn’t printed propaganda that gets implicit credibility from being bundled with major papers be treated as a serious concern?

Would you be shocked to learn that the Wall Street Journal has also had a similar arrangement with Russia Beyond as recently as December of 2015, which was well after the start of Hemingway’s obsession with this topic? Of course you would not.

Contemptor has reached out to Hemingway for comment and will update this post if he responds.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.