The “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC were unsurprisingly smitten Thursday morning with President Biden’s Wednesday summit with Chinese totalitarian leader Xi Jinping, singing Biden’s praises as if they had been giving White House scripts. However, ABC and CBS showed disgust with Biden for creating a “damaging” “setback” that could “negate” and “undo” “goodwill” with Xi by saying he’s “a dictator.”
To be clear, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS Mornings were disappointed with Biden for making a completely factual statement about Xi being a ruthless “dictator” who oversees a “communist country.” What’s next for these two? Defending Uighur concentration camps?
CBS initially sang Biden’s praises with co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King boasting of “President Biden announc[ing] progress with China on military relations and fentanyl after a high-stakes meeting with President Xi” and co-host Nate Burleson hyping “signs of a potential thaw in relations between the U.S. and China.”
But Burleson made sure to knock Biden before giving way to senior White House correspondent Weijia Jiang: “[T]here was a setback afterward when President Biden made a comment about President Xi.”
Jiang had a similar pattern, starting with the praise before doing to the “setback” (click “expand”):
JIANG: Nate, good morning to you and good morning to everybody. President Biden called the discussion some of the most productive and constructive the two leaders have ever had at a summit where every element was carefully choreographed and negotiated right down to what Xi Jinping would see when he looked out the window, but that setback you mentioned happened when the President was speaking off the cuff, reiterating his belief that Xi is a dictator.
BIDEN: And we’re back to direct, open, clear direct communications.
JIANG: President Biden came out of the summit announcing that the two countries agreed to crack down on the illegal production of fentanyl by targeting the Chinese companies that supply and export the ingredients used to make the opioid and both agreed to restore key military communications after China went dark back in August last year, when then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan.
BIDEN: Miscalculations on either side can cause real, real trouble with a country like China, or any other major country.
JIANG: Beijing’s continued aggression in the South China Sea has fueled fears that it will invade Taiwan. The President reiterated that the U.S. maintains the small island’s sovereignty.
JIANG: After meeting with Xi, the President made clear that there are limits to the relationship with Xi Jinping.
CNN’s M.J. LEE [TO BIDEN]: After today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator? This is a term that you used earlier this year.
BIDEN: Well, look, he is. I mean, he’s a dictator in the sense that he is the guy who runs a country that is a communist country.
JIANG: The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to those comments calling them extremely wrong and irresponsible. President Xi attended a dinner here last night with CEOs. While both leaders will continue their meetings surrounding the APEC Summit today, Gayle.
The show started its second half-hour with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and went right to what co-host Tony Dokoupil called a “damaging…comment” by Biden to speak the truth about Xi’s ruthlessness: “And how damaging if you can put it in context was his dictator comment that President Biden said off the cuff near the end of things?”
Esper wasn’t interested in that, largely giving muted praise to the summit for the sole fact that they talked for the first time this year even though Xi has said he’d crack down on fentanyl flowing from China to the U.S. for Biden’s two immediate predecessors, but nothing came to fruition.
Esper did praise Biden for calling Xi a “dictator”, but Burleson interjected: “You think that’ll put a halt on the progress that was made?”
The Trump Pentagon official wasn’t falling into the trap, noting “China needs us right now more than we need them….[b]ecause their economy is in the pits” and “need “U.S. investment” and “consumer sales, purchase, so forth, and so on.”
King tried again to no avail:
But we heard Chinese officials reacting to the dictator comments saying it’s extremely wrong and irresponsible. Didn’t that sort of — I don’t want to say negate the goodwill that we made yesterday, but doesn’t that put a little bit of — tainted just a little bit. Will there be a clean up on aisle six today from the White House?
Unsurprisingly, ABC’s chief White House correspondent and chief Biden apple polisher Mary Bruce gleefully gushed over Biden’s “marathon meeting” creating “what he calls important progress, arguing their face-to-face diplomacy was a significant step to making sure their competition doesn’t turn into conflict.”
Bruce tacked the “dictator” bit onto the very end of her report, leaving co-host and George Stephanopoulos to complain about Biden “undo[ing] any progress” with Xi to the National Security Council’s John Kirby (click “expand”):
BRUCE: Now, moments later, President Biden was asked if he still believes that President Xi is a dictator and Biden was blunt and yes, he is, that he is the leader of a communist country. That is not sitting too well with the Chinese who are calling that comment “extremely wrong and irresponsible.” George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Mary Bruce, thanks. Let’s bring in the National Security Council’s top spokesman, John Kirby. John, thanks for joining us this morning. Any concern that comment from the President is going to undo any progress you made?
KIRBY: No, no concern at all. I mean, we had a really good set of discussions yesterday, George, on a lot of topics, including really two big deliverables. One coming out of this meeting knowing that the military-to-military communications will restart at various levels, not just at the top, but theater commander level and below. And, number two, getting that agreement to have the Chinese crack down on law enforcement and export of these chemical ingredients that make fentanyl. A huge, huge achievement. There’s a lot more work to do.
NBC chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander only mentioned the “dictator” utterance during his puffball segment on Today about Biden and Xi “lowering the temperature” with the acknowledgment that Biden was “standing by his past assessment that President Xi is a dictator.”
Earlier, co-host Hoda Kotb hailed the “high-stakes” San Francisco-area summit as Biden and Xi “clearing the air…after years of escalating tensions between the superpowers”
Alexander did, however, fluff the murderous regime by bringing up what Americans hope are a return of pandas to U.S. zoos (click “expand”):
ALEXANDER: Overnight, the communist leader was the guest of honor at a glitzy dinner featuring a parade of American business leaders, including Elon Musk and the heads of Apple, Boeing and FedEx.
KOTB: Alright, so, there’s clearly a lot of serious business going on there, Peter, but there was another headline out of a meeting that I think a lot of Americans will be happy to hear.
ALEXANDER: Yeah. Hoda, I think you can chalk this up as panda diplomacy. Just a week after Washington’s National Zoo said farewell to those three giant pandas in D.C., President Xi overnight teased that China will send more pandas back to the U.S., calling them envoys of friendship. Still no specific details on exactly how many or when they will arrive. But, Hoda, President Xi said they are likely to end up at the famed San Diego Zoo.
KOTB: Oh. That’s some good news to hear.