The media showering that China has received during the Beijing Winter Olympics has been both a national and international disgrace. NBC has been tiptoeing around how the Games are being held in the shadow of Uighur concentration camps, while athletes describe horrid living conditions including food that makes Fyre Festival’s cuisine look like a gourmet meal.

But almost nothing compares to Western outlets repeating Chinese Communist Party talking points over the coerced interview confession that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai gave to the French magazine L’Equipe this weekend.

Late last year, Shuai accused a former senior CCP official, Zhang Gaol,...

The media showering that China has received during the Beijing Winter Olympics has been both a national and international disgrace. NBC has been tiptoeing around how the Games are being held in the shadow of Uighur concentration camps, while athletes describe horrid living conditions including food that makes Fyre Festival’s cuisine look like a gourmet meal.

But almost nothing compares to Western outlets repeating Chinese Communist Party talking points over the coerced interview confession that Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai gave to the French magazine L’Equipe this weekend.

Late last year, Shuai accused a former senior CCP official, Zhang Gaol, of sexual assault in a social media post. Shortly after making those allegations, Shuai disappeared from public view, which sparked outrage from some corners of the international community and the World Tennis Association, which took a refreshing stand against China until her whereabouts were confirmed and she was safe.

Shuai resurfaced, appearing in several videos and photographs, as though by all appearances she was fine and being cared for by Chinese government officials. It was likely all for show. Last weekend, in an interview that was monitored by CCP officials and the IOC, Shuai recanted her entire story, calling the episode a misunderstanding. Several national and international sports and news media outlets reported the “misunderstanding” uncritically, without mentioning the crucial context of Shuai’s personal circumstances or safety.

This is not only a horrific journalistic failure, but a moral one too.

News outlets such as Reuters, ESPN and TIME ran generalized headlines — “Chinese tennis player Peng denies making accusation of sexual assault.” ESPN went further — “Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai denies making assault allegation, says concern for her based on ‘misunderstanding’.” ABC News, which is owned by Disney, a company that’s been criticized for its past use of filming locations in Xinjiang and its pandering to the Chinese market, repeated the “misunderstanding” line without context, as did the Associated Press.

Politico Europe, to its credit, included the detail that the interview was supervised, as did the Daily Mail, which called it a “forced confession.” Washington Free Beacon reporter Matthew Foldi pointed out that in a photograph taken during the interview, a CCP official is visible in the mirror with his arms crossed. “Someone is always watching,” Foldi tweeted.

Per Politico Europe’s post:

Speaking during the Beijing Winter Olympics in a hotel used by the Chinese Olympics Committee, Peng told the French newspaper: “I never said anyone sexually assaulted me.” Peng also told L’Équipe that she “never disappeared” and that she erased her post because she “wanted to.” L’Équipe said that questions were submitted in advance, and the paper agreed to publish Peng’s answers without commentary. The interview was conducted in Chinese and translated into English by a Chinese Olympic official, according to L’Équipe.

These remarks echo similar comments Peng made in December to Singaporean outlet Lianhe Zaobao that there were “misunderstandings” around her post. Following the interview, Shuai met with Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, which should certainly cast the IOC’s stance on these matters into the spotlight. Shuai was then spotted with Bach after Eileen Gu won a gold in last night’s freestyle skiing event. In her post-medal interview, Gu was asked for her take on the Peng Shuai situation, and said she was glad to see her “happy and healthy and doing her thing.”

Every outlet that omits the fact that Shuai’s interview and so-called confession took place under the direct supervision of the CCP is doing not only a disservice to its audience but is toeing the Chinese party line. The presence of CCP officials serves as an ominous threat, given China’s record on human rights and disappearing political dissidents.

China is using the Winter Olympics to distract the world from their human rights record. The timing couldn’t be better: we’ve spent the past three years living through a global pandemic that came from within China’s borders, a crackdown on political opponents in Hong Kong, a petty trade war with Australia and growing pressure on Taiwan.

Peng Shuai’s stage-managed U-turn might not have the international consequences of China’s other power moves, but the US media’s willingness to go along with it should frighten every American. China did not silence her in front of the world to make people believe she was not raped. They silenced her to show they could — and our media and the IOC are proving them right.