This is one I've wanted to do for a long time....
This one has something to do with Wikipedia, but only tangentially. China Uncensored is a YouTube series run by a Sinophile named Chris Chappell who may-or-may-not be fluent in Mandarin aka "Standard Chinese" (Pǔtōnghuà). His shtik is that he plays this Stephen Colbert-like anchorman who talks about mainland Chinese news stories, most of whom paint the Chinese Communist Party in a bad light. The only problem is that Chappell is aligned in a "open secret" way with New Tang Dynasty Television, which is the satellite network run by Falun Gong practitioners, but you would not know it from the "about us" page of the website.
Chris Chappell and the NDT.tv "bug" that came and went from his videos.
And what is "Falun Gong"? That's complicated; it's a form of "qigong" (pronounced "chee gung") exercises (think Tai Chi but with more meditating) founded by a man named Li Hongzhi in the early 1990s during a post-Tienanmen Square Massacre "back to the roots" national fad. Another name for it is "Falun Dafa". The CCP is not happy about the growth of folksy religions after they opened up the country in the 1980s, so they have banned Falun Gong. My problem with all of this is that Chappell is not open about his links to NTD.tv on YouTube, nor whether or not he is a Falun Gong user or in it to talk about the "house Christians" (Chinese Protestants or Catholics who won't attend the State-approved churches, so they have illegal masses/services in their homes.) We don't know, and nobody in the media is willing to talk to Chappell, even though China Uncensored has been on YouTube for three years and counting. The other thing that bugs us is that Chris uses The Epoch Times as a heavy source, and that newspaper was founded by the same group of people who founded New Tang Dynasty Television: Chinese-Americans who may or may not be Falun Gong practitioners. Here is Chris Chappell spending most of a video talking to an Epoch Times reporter about how China is running a secret economic war against America. Did I mention they also run a dance troupe? The Yelp reviews are fascinating. Something should be said about the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party, the "anonymously written" anti-Communist screed that appeared in 2004; it has become the bulwark and lodestone of the Falun Gong press movement, to copy the sort of anti-Communist ranting of the John Birch Society and Christian Anti-Communist Crusade. Chris Chappell uses comedy to get that message across, and it works, mostly.
The Wikipedia element only has to do with The Epoch Times and NTD.tv; they have SPAs dumping in pro-Falun Gong material and there is a lot of infighting. User OhConfucius had this to say about the situation last year: Falun Gong does not exist in a vacuum, as its leadership is at
loggerheads with the PRC regime. Although Falun Gong claim the moral
high ground, neither side has the gospel truth on its side although both
claim it. FLG is certainly more of the victim in this game, but you can
expect a violent reaction if you poke a wild animal enough times.
Disliking both in equal measure, I edit without pro-Falun Gong nor
pro-PRC government agenda....The Falun Gong have a formidable propaganda machine in New York under
Gail Rachlin which grew out of the same Cultural Revolution mindset as
the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China,
otherwise known as the "Propaganda Department". In a small way, I'm
happy to say Rachlin's operation now qualitatively surpasses the
regime's – it's much more reactive, and imaginative on the attack, but
it's still paranoid and highly sensitive to criticism, like its
counterpart. Operating in exile [NTD.tv and The Epoch Times are based in New York City, as is China Uncensored] against a regime that is as brutal as it
is opaque, there are no party lines to follow. Shen Yun becomes the vanguard, and propaganda gets dressed up deceptively
as art. Li Hongzhi ordered followers to pick fights with the regime
while he himself is safely in the US. His footsoldiers irritate the
monster and add to their statistics. Ever imaginative, Falun Gong rides
on the PRC's abysmal human rights record, their propaganda machine, in
addition to hiding behind glossy silky dance performances, generates and spreads stories of Nazi-like atrocities
that only a brutal totalitarian regime could conceivably commit. Like
all smears, plausibility is key; never let the lack of evidence get into
the way of a good story. One anonymous informant hiding behind dark
glasses and waiting political asylum, without documentary or
photographic proof.....Pointing to their motto but being cagey about the true and kooky nature
of some of their teachings, Falun Gong hold themselves up as virtuous;
anyone who dares to utter any criticism is labelled "evil". Their
declared primary objective is the overthrow of the Communist Party of
China – as can be seen from any issue of Epoch Times. Falun Gong
hold themselves up as champions of human rights but actually only care
about themselves; they are wary of other human rights defenders who are
not Falun Gong. Anyone who dares to criticise them is thus a human
rights abuser. Their proselytism is a defining trait, and they seek to
discredit anyone who is not totally in support of them. Although the
term "enemy" is usually reserved for the any observer who isn't
completely on board is considered "the enemy" or a collaborator. They
discredited cult-buster Rick Ross, vilified the sceptics He Zuoxiu and Sima Nan; poured scorn over the work of respectable academics like Margaret Singer, Heather Kavan by tarring with guilt by association to the regime. Initially welcoming him, they have scorned Harry Wu
– probably the world's foremost authority on Chinese forced labour
camps – since he declared that he found no evidence of the organ
harvesting allegations. They spread rumours about Wu turning
collaborator after his swift release from PRC arrest. Falun Gong editors
quote extensively from texts written by "investigative journalist" Danny Schechter,
whose discourse concerning Falun Gong is disconcertingly similar in
tone and content to Falun Gong propaganda. Another favourite is Ethan
Gutman, who writes for the neo-conservative Weekly Standard,
and whose storyline repeating FLG allegations of live organ harvesting
on FLG practitioners marries well with the journal's US-centric/anti-PRC
agenda and rhetoric. Wikipedian Colipon discusses the issue of Falun Gong members editing Wikipedia here; the short version is that Wikipedia has seen waves of SPAs (single-purpose accounts) run by Falun Gong members trying to control Falun Gong articles since 2004; they were chased off twice, but now control the articles either because nobody gives a damn anymore or there are not enough people left smart enough/thick-skinned enough to deal with the problem.
David Owenby wrote a good book on the issue over a decade ago, Falun Gong and the Future of China; seek it out if you want to know how nutty they truly get.
Award given to people willing to call the Chief of Daqing City Police to release the mother-in-law of
Ben Hedges, host of the You Tube show "Lao Wai Kan Zhongguo" (A Foreigner's View of China.)
This one is less complicated; Russia! magazine is a website about the largest country on Earth that originally was kind of like Soviet Life during the perestroika period or it's successor Russian Life: focused on what was going on within the country while also discussing culture, art, etc. The only problem was that new websites began emerging in the last decade or so that did Russia!'s job better (Russia Beyond the Headlines, The Russian Reader, KinoKultura, etc.) so it switched over to more and more of an economic/political magazine, and after the Crimea-Donbass War started, it moved over to sounding more like a narrowly-focused defense issues blog. That written, I will never sass Jim Kovpak for going into the Ukrainian war zone to report on how it is (surreal, bombed out, and shitty for the elderly), my problem is with Mark Adomanis, who unlike Kovpak, does not live in Russia; he reminds me of Michael McFaul, the American Ambassador to Russia. He once wrote a column titled "Revenge of the Losers" slamming Soviet refrigerators and Igor Strelkov (the former insurgent leader of Novorossiya), a piece which has since vanished. If they could find a Russian writer who is as pro-markets as Adomanis without being as annoying, Russia! would probably drop-kick him to the curb.....not that it matters as he also writes for Forbes. If I had to pay for Russia! as a physical publication, I would rather read back issues in a college library. Rodina deserves better.