- D.C. radio station WCRW AM 1190 took $4.4 million dollars from China Radio International.
- WCRW airs The Bridge, which has criticized the U.S. COVID response while applauding China’s.
- Station co-owner Brian Lane says “We are not agents of the CCP.”
The Drill Down previously reported on China’s use of social media platforms to create thousands of fake accounts to spread disinformation. Now, it sounds like China is invading the airwaves. The state-run China Radio International reportedly gave $4.4 million dollars to the D.C.-based Potomac Radio Group, owners of WCRW AM 1190, to air content and propaganda.
Potomac Radio Group recently registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act for its work with China, disclosing it “airs programs” that are “provided by [state-run] China Global Television Network.” Most notably, WCRW airs the podcast The Bridge, which focuses on connecting the cultures of East and West, and “has as its goal, the building of cultural ties between the United States and China,” the official podcast summary states.
“Episodes of the podcast have featured [hosts] John St. Augustine and Zhou Heyang praising China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, while St. Augustine has repeatedly attacked Americans and the U.S. response and said he does not care where COVID-19 originated,” the Washington Examiner reports.
During an episode from last year titled “The Angry American,” St. Augustine went off on America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m not a fan of the American people today,” St. Augustine said. “I’m embarrassed. It shouldn’t be this way. We’re doing this to ourselves now — no matter how this happened, how it started. … Unbelievable to me.”
Station co-owner Brian Lane wants to have it both ways, downplaying the propaganda accusations while simultaneously distancing himself from CRI.
“The majority of content is about cultural differences between East and West, such as music and entertainment and opportunities to learn the Mandarin language,” Lane says. “We have ended some of our business with them and are reviewing our options at the moment, including the sale of the station.”
“We are not agents of the CCP,” Lane continues. “The previous owners consulted with the Department of Justice in 2015 and were not required to register. … However, the views of the DOJ have evolved since then, and we have been having a cordial dialog with their attorneys. … Though we continue to believe that we did not need to register, we did.”
China’s sphere of influence continues to grow at an alarming rate.