Slate magazine founders and editors including Jacob Weisberg – whose podcast company produces shows including Ibram Kendi’s “Be Antiracist” show – have participated in trips to China sponsored by the China-United States Exchange Foundation: a Chinese Communist Party-linked group courting journalists for “favorable coverage,” The National Pulse can reveal.
As evidenced from the Twitter account of former Slate Editor-in-Chief Jacob Weisberg, he and his Slate colleagues – including founder Michael Kinsley – visited China as part of a China-United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) delegation in May 2012.
Since Weisberg’s CUSEF trip and Slate departure, he has co-founded Pushkin Industries, a podcast and audiobook production company, alongside author and New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell. Hosts for the company’s top shows include “anti-racist” activist Ibram Kendi and Democratic impeachment witness Noah Feldman.
CUSEF functions as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front: an effort determined “co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority” of the Chinese government. ” “The United Front strategy uses a range of methods to influence foreign governments to take actions or adopt positions supportive of Beijing’s preferred policies,” the U.S. government’s report on the operation continues.
Through Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filings, The National Pulse has exposed how CUSEF sponsoring private dinners and trips to China for mainstream media journalists in exchange for “favorable coverage.” Documents also reveal that CUSEF has retained Western lobbyists to aid in their quest to “effectively disseminate positive messages to the media, key influencers and opinion leaders, and the general public” regarding the Chinese Communist Party.
The May 2012 Slate visit included visits with Chinese Communist Party officials, state-run media outlets, state-run universities, and military collaborators such as Huawei.
“Our nice minder wants to clarify that the plant’s best workers are Communist Party members,” Weisberg tweeted along with “best corporate PR I’ve ever heard. I’d invest. But you can’t. It’s employee owned” in reference to Huawei. Weisberg’s Twitter account also documents a lunch with CUSEF Executive Director Alan Wong and a parting gift of a stuffed animal wearing a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) uniform.
Weisberg penned an article for Slate reacting to a visit to the offices of Chinese social media network Sina Weibo during his CUSEF trip, where he posits that the Chinese Communist Party is slowly opening up to more criticism:
But self-censorship no longer seems to be getting the job done. When I visited China in early 2008, the overall conversation was far more constrained; You had to develop a feeling of trust with someone before he or she would criticize the government, especially in any kind of public setting. This time, an entire class of journalism students at Peking University shared their objections to the blocking of websites—and their professors seconded the sentiment. The lone dissenter was a student who came up to us afterward to say that he agreed with the government.
Other Slate writers have participated in CUSEF trips in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
“Megacities like this one are the symbol of China’s rise and its instrument: This is where the money is being made. The boom has been made possible by the largest human migration in history, from the countryside to the city, and its physical footprint is awe-inspiring,” one article gushes.