CNN, Beijing sour grapes sweeter with bureau chief to carry torch

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2008, 12:00am

The sour grapes between global TV news network CNN and the Chinese were sweetened somewhat yesterday when its Beijing bureau chief, Jaime FlorCruz, was invited to take part in the capital's Olympic torch relay.

FlorCruz and his 17-year-old daughter Michelle, a student in Beijing, will take part in the relay on August 6 when the torch arrives back in the capital after its often bumpy journey around the world and across the country.

'Michelle and I are pleased and honoured to have been selected as torch-bearers,' FlorCruz said last night.

The last time he was summoned by government chiefs was in April - for an angry dressing down amid the furore over derogatory comments CNN commentator Jack Cafferty made about the Chinese on air.

FlorCruz declined to speculate about why he and his daughter were chosen. But the move will please his CNN bosses, who were forced to make a second apology for Cafferty's outspokenness after the first failed to appease angry citizens and the central government.

The Foreign Ministry finally accepted an apology after a letter was presented last month by CNN president Jim Walton to China's ambassador to the United States, officially apologising to the Chinese people for Cafferty's comments.

On CNN's political programme The Situation Room on April 9, Cafferty said the US imported Chinese-made 'junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food', and added: 'I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years.'

A Xinhua report said FlorCruz, a Philippine national, was chosen for his close association with the Olympics. 'I covered the 1988 Seoul Olympics for Time magazine and Sports Illustrated.

'Now I am looking forward to covering the Beijing Games as well, this time as CNN's Beijing bureau chief,' FlorCruz was quoted as saying.

The news of his relay contribution has not yet filtered down to the numerous so-called anti-CNN websites set up following Cafferty's outburst.

One,, continues to bristle with barbed comments aimed at FlorCruz's employers.

'CNN's coverage on Tibet is biased and distorts the facts seriously. It misleads the audiences and tarnishes the good image of China by demonising Chinese people and the Chinese government.

'What CNN did violated China's security and severely hurt Chinese people's feeling,' reads one of this week's posts on the website.