Protesters gather at CNN
Throngs of Chinese Americans protested outside CNN’s offices in Hollywood on Saturday morning, calling for the dismissal of commentator Jack Cafferty, whose recent remarks about Chinese goods and China inflamed a community already angry about international condemnations directed at the host country of the upcoming Olympic Games.
The protesters lined Sunset Boulevard from Cahuenga Boulevard to Wilcox Avenue chanting “Fire Cafferty” and “CNN liar” and singing the Chinese national anthem and other patriotic songs. They waved Chinese, American and Taiwanese flags and directed their anger at the news channel’s dark glass tower.
“It’s really unacceptable,” said John He, an organizer of the event. “It maliciously attacks all Chinese. This would not be accepted if it was directed at any other ethnic group.”
On the April 9 airing of “The Situation Room,” Cafferty said of America’s relationship with China: “We continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export . . . jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we’re buying from Wal-Mart. So I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they’re basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they’ve been for the last 50 years.”
CNN later said Cafferty’s comments were directed at the Beijing government.
“In this occasion Jack was offering his strongly held opinion of the Chinese government, not the Chinese people,” a CNN spokesman said in a statement. “It should be noted that over many years, Jack Cafferty has expressed critical comments on many governments, including the U.S. government and its leaders.”
The controversy has added fuel to a growing resentment toward the West. Many Chinese feel the West is unfairly ganging up on the country at a time when the world should be celebrating the Olympics.
Much of the blame is being directed at Western media, which the Chinese American community has accused of bias for failing to show the violence inflicted on non-Tibetans during the recent unrest in the western Chinese province and of being too critical of China.
A website known as www.anti-cnn.com was created last month, and CNN reported Friday that hackers had attempted to interrupt the network’s website.
While the anger continues in overseas Chinese communities, the government in Beijing has attempted to control the anti-Western rhetoric online for fear of marring the experience of countless foreigners visiting for the summer games.
Saturday’s protest was announced through mass e-mails and Chinese-language media.
Some of the protesters Saturday said Cafferty’s words reflected a growing unease among Americans over China’s growing global profile.
Lake Wang, a 39-year-old engineer from Thousand Oaks, was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Do not be jealous of China Jack.” The last protest Wang attended was 19 years ago in Beijing -- the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Wang said China has become a vastly different society since then and that the country deserved credit for the changes.
Police estimated the crowd at 1,500, but organizers said there were 10,000 attendees. A similar protest took place at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
“Most of these people are American citizens and legal resident aliens,” said John Chen, a lead organizer. “We love China and we love America too. We should not be regarded as goons and thugs.”