(Thomas Mitchell, 4TH ST8) – Talk about an orgy of unmitigated puffery. Break out the pompoms, bang the drums, shoot off Chinese fireworks and sing hosannas to the highest.
For nearly a week the Las Vegas newspaper has been filled to the brim with glowing headlines about the second coming, or rather the first coming — the first direct flight from Beijing to Las Vegas, and back again we presume.
The Friday headline was: “Inaugural Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing to Las Vegas lands at McCarran.” Isn’t there an old saw about safe landings not warranting newspaper headlines — “Plane doesn’t crash?” Where was the headline for the other 700 or so flights that safely landed that day?
Another headline and story that day gayly announced that cake, champagne and show performers from the Strip greeted the 300 or so Chinese tourists aboard that plane — less reporters, tourism touts and assorted hangers on. No cake and champagne for the other 40 million tourists who show up here each year? Where’s your sense of fairness?
The other five or so stories about this auspicious occasion told newspaper readers that local tourism officials are hungry for a wave of flights from China, Las Vegas is being marketed as less than sinful, tickets for the junket were going on sale, many in the Chinese community await investment opportunities, and the pent up demands for Chinese travel to Las Vegas is a good thing. No editorializing in any of that.
Then there was the Beijing dateline from one of the paper’s reporters who apparently took the flight and also took dozens of photos and apparently shot cell phone video to post online telling stereotypical tales about the stereotypical Chinese tourist, as well as the dozens of photos from an actual photographer when the plane actually arrived in full glory and regalia.
The paper gushed more ink than a geyser on this plane load of Chinese tourists.
You’d almost think the newspaper’s owner had some kind of interest in Chinese tourism or had a stake in stoking the egos of Chinese officials who have the power of life or death over his casinos in that country. But none of the stories carried the customary disclaimer about the paper’s owner also owns a chain of casinos, including a couple in Macau, China, so that mustn’t be the case.
In 2014, Chinese officials cracked down on junkets to Macau and money laundering, causing casino revenue there to plummet more than 34 percent in 2015. Wouldn’t want a repeat of that, now that biz is bouncing back and revenues are seeping back into casino owners’ pockets.
Then to make sure the story played out to the last gasp, today a front page story on the “official” opening of the tiny, 200-room, Chinese-themed Lucky Dragon casino just off the Strip has a passing mention of the airline’s inaugural flight. So far the slow-motion opening of the Lucky Dragon, including a feature on how to serve tea Chinese-style, has gotten more coverage than the grand opening of the paper’s owner’s latest pleasure palace in Macau, China.
I hear the paper is planning a Mandarin edition soon, replete with quotes from Chairman Mao, who immediately outlawed gambling in China when he took over in 1949, such as, “The socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system; this is an objective law independent of man’s will. However much the reactionaries try to hold back the wheel of history, eventually revolution will take place and will inevitably triumph.”
All the news that fits, or fits the agenda.
Mr. Mitchell publishes the 4TH ST8 Blog.
Column originally appears at 4TH ST8.