Writing in Forbes, author and marketing professional Shaun Rein tears into CNN for what he calls a “publicity stunt” involving actor Christian Bale last week, saying CNN “became complicit in Bale’s activism” by planning a trip and driving him to the remote city of Linyi where Bale confronted Chinese authorities as he tried to visit human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng.
My issue here is not with Bale. In general, I believe one should follow the laws of nations that one visits, and that Bale should do so, but I also generally believe in free speech, no matter how misguided. The real problem lies with CNN’s behavior, because it plays into the widely held belief among many Chinese that Western media are intertwined with security organizations like the CIA to keep China down and intentionally portray the nation inaccurately.
For its part, last week CNN said, “Chen Guangcheng is a newsworthy figure, particularly so within the last week, and as such it is in the interest of CNN’s global viewers to hear from him. Mr. Bale reached out to CNN and invited us to join him on his journey to visit Chen. This was our second effort to speak to Chen this year and we hope we will be able to do so in the future.”