CODEPINK's Tighe Barry, Medea Benjamin, and Leonardo Flores outside PBS HQ in Arlington, VA.
By Madison Tang
Last week, on August 12, 2021, CODEPINK's Medea Benjamin, Tighe Barry, Leonardo Flores, and Michelle Ellner delivered over 3,600 signatures from the public to Public Broadcasting Services' headquarters in Arlington, VA asking them to stop censoring the truth about China.
Much to our disappointment, PBS, a PUBLIC broadcasting service, chose to call the police on these four peace activists members of the public, who were calmly and respectfully representing the opinions of the taxpayers — who fund PBS to the tune of over $26 million annually. The viewers who signed this petition are simply requesting that PBS honor its mission statement and values to “keep citizens informed on world events and cultures,” “express a diversity of perspectives,” and deliver content that is “responsive solely to the needs of the public—not to the interests of funders.”
CODEPINK’s letter, with nearly 4,000 signatures, calls on PBS to stop censoring Peter Getzels’ and Dr. Robert Lawrence Kuhn’s documentary film Voices from the Frontlines: China’s War on Poverty. The letter addresses how PBS is depriving its viewers of opportunities for learning about collective harmony and equality by censoring this documentary and its insight into China's life-saving policies, which took 800 million citizens out of extreme poverty, at a time when poverty, food insecurity, and houselessness are all at record levels in the United States.
PBS calls the cops on Medea Benjamin, Tighe Barry, Leonardo Flores, and Michelle Ellner (videographer) as they deliver signatures to PBS in Arlington, VA.
Notably, the action was co-sponsored by Emmy and Peabody award-winning director Eugene Jarecki, award-winning documentary filmmaker Petra Costa, Patricia Foulkrod, Lekha Singh, and Robert Carl Cohen — the first American to direct a documentary on China in 1957. Additionally, peace activists from World Beyond War, Environmentalists Against War, Veterans For Peace-Chapter 113 Hawai'i, Hawai'i Peace and Justice, and Massachusetts Peace Action joined in coalition.
The U.S.'s hybrid war on China involves much more than the dangerous U.S. military buildup to surround China in the South China Sea; it also involves economic, academic, and information warfare, including U.S. government-funded propaganda and harmful unilateral sanctions. At CODEPINK, we are firmly anti-war, and we fear that this bias and censorship from PBS is part of the U.S.-led hybrid war on China, especially considering that PBS's Board of Directors includes Obama's former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. As Secretary of Defense, Hagel was described an asset for the administration's "pivot’ to Asia” and “the face of the pivot.”
Given the lack of accountability and unwarranted police response from PBS, we are calling on members of the public to demand that PBS meet with CODEPINK to address their anti-China bias and censorship of Voices from the Frontlines: China’s War on Poverty. #PBSTelltheTruth! #ChinaIsNotOurEnemy!
Resources & More Ways to Take Action:
- You can read the full letter to PBS here.
- Read our related blog post on Orientalist anti-China bias and factual inaccuracies in PBS Frontline’s episode, “China’s COVID Secrets” here: PBS - Propaganda, Bias, and Selective Mistruths on China
- Take further action and sign our letter to Congress asking them to Vote No on more money for militarism & environmental destruction in the EAGLE Act (H.R. 3524)!
- Follow the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign on Twitter here!
Madison Tang is the coordinator of the China Is Not Our Enemy campaign at CODEPINK, a women-led grassroots organization dedicated to ending U.S. wars and militarism.