There was an old American joke I read long ago about the former Soviet Union, and it went like this:
There was a race somewhere between an American car and a Russian car, and the American car won. (Of course the American car won! This is an American joke, remember?)
The next day's headlines in Pravda said, "The Russian car came second, while the American car was next to last."
Ha, ha! Oh, those Russians!
I've been watching the medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics over the last couple of weeks, and something puzzled me about American reporting on this.
Normally, medal tallies are shown in descending order of gold, then silver, and then bronze medals. The country with the most golds is on top. If two countries have the same number of golds, then the one with more silvers goes above the other. Ditto if the two countries have the same number of golds and silvers. The country with more bronze medals goes above the other.
Not according to the New York Times, though.
In their reporting, the medal tally was sorted in descending order of total number of medals.
But wait, there's more!
One would think there would be no wiggle room when comparing gold medals, right?
Apparently, there is. You can shrink the icons on China's row to make it look much shorter than it is. That way, the US won't look quite so bad.
Unbelievable, right? I guess that's what a "free press" means. You're free to bend and twist the truth in any way you like. Not that it didn't get called out and ridiculed on Twitter and Reddit. In that context, I learnt a new word - copium.
Luckily for them, the US ended the Olympics with more gold medals than China (in addition to having more medals overall), so it could legitimately be at the top of the medal tally, and the media subterfuge of the previous few days went by unremarked.
Now you know why I don't believe the Western press when it comes to reporting on China. If they can distort such obvious facts to create a misleading impression, what else are they distorting?