A feast of unfestive bile

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

“Curious, is The Moodie Davitt Report now in the habit of just printing state Press Releases?”

The sender of the email (who shall remain nameless) that clunked into my inbox didn’t mince his words. Clearly something we had written had got his dander up.

I didn’t have to read much further to discover the source of his wrath. It was my reporting of the comments made by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China spokesman at a media conference two days earlier.

Wang Wenbin: “A small number of western media have deliberately hyped up and even misrepresented China’s COVID policy adjustment, and yet avoided reporting on the deficiencies and heavy price paid in their own countries’ COVID response”

Relating how a parent of a close friend had recently died of COVID in Hong Kong, he said my article struck him as “rather discordant and disingenuous”.

“Of course, the criticism of the western media begs the questions who are we to believe? This includes The Economist; that recently modelled what is happening there, and the potential for more than a million lives more to be lost.

“Will you be reporting these facts too, although as China has NO independent media reporting, will the world or even the Chinese people ever learn about what is now unfolding?

“Plus, why even publish this when you provide NO commentary of your own – like what this potentially will mean for travel, etc.?

“In a word “disappointing”.”

Ignoring his description of The Economist’s modelling and the potential for more than a million lives more to be lost as ‘facts’, I replied in rather more polite terms than his tone probably deserved. I pointed out:

  • It wasn’t a press release. I had obtained the full transcript of the media conference in question and written my original article accordingly.
  • Disingenuous (see definitions below) hardly applies to a story that correctly quoted an important media exchange and giving important context to the policy shift in China.
  • As for his ‘NO commentary jibe” this was a news article, not a commentary. There is a difference.
  • The return of Chinese outbound travel (whatever the short-term, COVID-related challenges) is a tremendous positive for the travel industry. To understand the Chinese position on both its new policy and the international response to it is important.

Of course, the exchange didn’t end there. The said dander was by now scaling the upper face of the Matterhorn. By now he was in full anti-China rant mode.

“Last time China promoted outbound travel without publicly disclosing for at least 2 months the scale of the at-home problem, the U.N. WHO COVID-19 now reports 6,656,601 deaths.

“Accordingly, I will take NO lesson from Chinese state propaganda or its admonishment of the Western media.”

He concluded this admonishing tirade with the distinctly unseasonal sign-off, “Of course, if you only measure success in terms of airport commercial revenues, or related advertising spend, you’re absolutely right.”

Yeah, right. That is what I measure life and success by. All this for factually reporting a press conference stating an important perspective on the industry that I happen to write about for a livelihood.

I’m not afraid to offer my personal perspective with commentary where appropriate, notably with my criticism of TFWA’s choice of ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which cost me and us dear, or my description of another former UK PM Boris Johnston’s decision to scrap tax free sales for outbound passengers as ‘Boris in Blunderland’.

As I said, where appropriate. Legitimately reporting such an important press conference – just as I shall report the various measures taken by governments around the world to impose COVID-related conditions on inbound Chinese travellers – requires no commentary. Nor should it provoke such bile.

In a word? Yes, I will give you one. It’s called Sinophobia.

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