At the Olympics, North Korea’s appalling American media boosters

At the Olympics, North Korea’s appalling American media boosters
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It is almost universally understood that North Korea is a horrific totalitarian regime. This ghoulish relic of the Soviet nightmare may be the only country for which the term “Orwellian” is an understatement. That 25 million North Koreans remain enslaved and brutalized to this day is humanity’s shared shame.

But at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics this past weekend, some of the media seemed to push aside those haunting truths. Instead, there was an embarrassing — and morally indefensible — effort to normalize North Korean propaganda with the games as backdrop and Trump administration as foil.

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Kim Yo-Jong, sister to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, received not merely respectful, but even complimentary coverage. Most egregious among the media outlets was a CNN piece titled “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics.” It’s opening line stated “If diplomatic dance were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister would be favored to win gold.”

This is bizarre and disgraceful. For one, Kim Yo-Jong is not a powerless dignitary or mere figurehead family member in North Korea. She is the director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Worker’s Party of Korea, where she helps oversee the brainwashing and psychological terror apparatus of the North Korean state. The rush to praise the “diplomacy” of a woman whose country currently holds around 100,000 political prisoners in multi-generational concentration camps is malicious stupidity.

Kim is also a member of the Politburo, and is considered one of the most senior and trusted advisors to Kim Jong Un. She is specifically sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for her role in North Korea’s crimes against humanity. By all accounts, Kim is not just complicit in the atrocities of the North Korean state: she is an enthusiastic participant. While the South Korean government has to treat Kim according to protocol, there is absolutely no excuse for journalists to fawn over her.

In evaluating North Korea’s so-called “charm offensive,” some U.S. journalists have even favorably compared North Korea’s Kim with the counter-propaganda efforts of U.S. Vice President Pence. The New York Times headlined part of its coverage with “Kim Jong UN’s Sister Turns on the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight.” The Times also gladly borrowed the preposterous and offensive comparison other outlets had made to Kim Yo-Jong as “North Korea’s Ivanka.” The baseless insinuations are clear enough.

Here is where the root cause of the media’s North Korea delusion is exposed. No major U.S. news outlet is unaware of the evil that defines the North Korean state. Mainstream outlets regularly cover the maniacal rhetoric of Kim Jong Un, and have run gut-wrenching pieces on his gulag. But the New York Times, CNN, and others lose their sense of perspective when the Trump administration comes into the equation.  

It is hard to read the recent coverage on North Korea and not feel that there are some U.S. journalists who are more comfortable swallowing Pyongyang’s Olympic propaganda than Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday Shows preview: Lawmakers, Trump allies discuss Russia probe, migrant family separation Seth McFarlane: Fox News makes me 'embarrassed' to work for this company  'Art of the Deal' co-author: Trump would act like Kim Jong Un if he had the same powers MORE’s tweets about “fake news.” Their first impulse appears to be going along with the temporary North Korean façade while taking cheap shots at the U.S. administration’s efforts to keep a distance from Kim’s diplomatic opportunism.

When you’re looking for the best of a monstrous dictatorship and the worst of a Republican administration at the world’s most famous sporting event, something has gone very wrong. That the media indulges such a pathological disdain for the president just adds to the growing perception that nothing is beyond the pale when it comes to attacking Trump.

It’s fine to report on North Korea’s Olympic cheer squads (unsettling as they are). But no matter how much they hate Trump, the media never has an excuse to be a North Korean cheer squad.

Buck Sexton is a political commentator, national security analyst and host of "The Buck Sexton Show.” He is a former CIA officer in the Counterterrorism Center, appears frequently on Fox News Channel and CNN and has been a guest radio show host for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Follow Buck on Twitter @BuckSexton.