Social media users go off on CNN over story on Kim Jong Un's sister

Social media users go off on CNN over story on Kim Jong Un's sister
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Social media users lashed out at CNN on Saturday after the network published a story declaring that Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is "stealing the show at the Winter Olympics."

The article centers on North Korea's surprise decision to send Kim Yo Jong as part of its delegation to the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the "diplomatic dance" she's performed at the Olympics thus far.

But critics on Twitter took issue with CNN's story, accusing the network of glossing over North Korea and the Kim family's brutal human rights record and "whitewashing" the government's atrocities.


Jeffrey Blehar, an analyst for election data startup Decision Desk HQ, jabbed the network for the story, saying that, if he worked at CNN, he would have sooner quit than write the article.

"If I were working for CNN I would honestly resign before writing this piece," he tweeted. "Beyond a certain point, no job is worth sacrificing your dignity or whitewashing true evil like this."

Blehar wasn't the only one to raise the "whitewashing" criticism of CNN. Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for Vice President Pence, who is leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics, also accused the article of appearing to blot out the North Korean government's record. 

In a tweet, she referenced the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died last year after being held prisoner for more than a year and a half in North Korea.

"Speaking of stealing, Otto Warmbier was tortured & killed at the hands of the Kim regime after being accused of stealing a poster," she wrote, referencing the CNN story's headline. "Let’s not whitewash North Korea’s record."

And Blake Seitz, a speechwriter for Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRepublicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall The congressional debate over antitrust: It's about time McConnell looks for way out of debt ceiling box MORE (R-Utah), took aim at CNN for what he called "Walter Duranty-level" coverage of North Korea — a reference to the former New York Times Moscow bureau chief who came under fire in the 1930s for denying the existence of a state-orchestrated famine by the Soviet government.

North Korea has sent some of its highest level officials to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, which officially kicked off on Friday. Kim Yo Jong, the influential younger sister of Kim Jong Un, joined that delegation this week, just days before the opening ceremony.

Kim Yo Jong's presence at the games is widely seen as part of a North Korean effort to push back against U.S. attempts to use the Winter Olympics to draw attention to Pyongyang's poor human rights record, as well as the international campaign to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Pence has sought to keep pressure on North Korea during his visit to Asia. In an interview with "NBC Nightly News" on Thursday, Pence repeated the Trump administration's claim that the U.S. was prepared to take whatever "action is necessary to defend our homeland" against a threat from Pyongyang.

Even at the games, which have been billed as an opportunity for peace, tensions between the U.S. and North Korea remained high. The Washington Post's Philip Bump posted a gif on Friday of Kim Yo Jong giving Pence what Bump described as "deadly side-eye."

Others warned against treating Kim Yo Jong's presence at the Olympics as a cause celebre.