A KUOW story about Chinese-Americans' views on the presidential race has received a considerable response from the Chinese-American community. The original headline, “A Trump win would help China. That is why this banner flew over Seattle,” was changed to “Why some Chinese-Americans support Trump (it has nothing to do with China)” to more accurately convey the focus of the story.
The story mentioned a recent survey showing that Asian-Americans including Chinese-Americans are gravitating toward the Democratic Party. The story went on to cover the support Donald Trump is getting in China and among Chinese-Americans.
“There’s a very active debate within the American Chinese community," John Pomfret said, the former Washington Post bureau chief in China. Pomfret referred to a plane that flew over Seattle the previous week pulling a banner that read: “Washington Chinese Americans for Trump.” The image of the plane and banner accompanied our story.
Quoted in the story was Haoyu Wang, a Chinese international student at the University of Washington and member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. Wang expressed his views on Trump and said, “We don’t like Trump as a person, but we like him as a tool to kind of bring American down." He emphasized that he's speaking for himself, not for the organization.
Wang’s comments and the fact that there was not a Chinese-American source in the story angered many listeners.
The story failed to include the voices of Chinese-Americans and explain how their reasons for supporting Trump are very different from those of Chinese nationals.
Below are excerpts from some of the emails we received. We wanted to publish them here to add perspectives that our original story missed.
Thank you to everyone who gave us feedback. We are lucky to have an audience that challenges us to do our best work.
Gil Aegerter, KUOW
Instead of seeking the true reasons why Chinese Americans who call this great country their home enthusiastically support Mr. Trump for President, your report focused on the opinion of foreigners who had nothing to do with, and know nothing about the Chinese Americans For Trump movement. As a loyal listener of NPR for 20+ years, I was disgusted by how desperate NPR is to discredit Mr. Trump and anyone who supports him, as demonstrated in this news report and many other similar ones by NPR.
Journalistic narratives bring real consequences. I am a proud member of the Chinese American community. I vote for my family to have a safer, brighter future as much as every other US citizen, no more and no less. I would never imagine that my country of origin can one day be used to fuel up a conspiracy theory like this and as a result, the conspiracy theory successfully discredited my community's legitimacy to intelligently express their political opinion, whether such opinion may or may not on par with the journalist who wrote the story. What does a story like this tell the citizens who immigrated from other countries? Should they self-censor what they should or shouldn't express openly, in exchange for a safer yet obviously silent life, where others manipulate your own story just to orchestrate a particular agenda?
“I wish you can realize how deeply we, the Chinese American are hurt by your report. We love this country, we are proud of being American, and we wish the best for this country. You may have a different political view from us, but remember you are here a journalist who is supposed to be impartial. Sadly, most of the journalism in this country has become a job, not a profession any more. Please do not be part of that.”
“Think for a moment, would you? Why would I want to bring down the US where I live in? What good could it be to bring down the US where my home is and where my son's home is and where my future grandchildren's home is?
Let me tell you why I'm supporting Donald Trump:
First, I don't want to see US is becoming a socialist country under Democrats and under Hillary. I witnessed first hand how socialism can destroy a country, that's why I escaped from China and made US my home and I live and work in the US. I don't want to live in a country that your opportunities are based by the color of your skin, not by the content of your character, but Hillary wants to do just that. We just want equal opportunities, nothing more, nothing less. Under left wings, we're seeing our equal opportunities of education and jobs are slipping away; lazy people get rewarded, people who broke the law get rewarded. What happened to Martin Luther King's dream that people will be judged by the content of the their character not by the color of their skin? That's why I support Trump.”
“For your next story, I would certainly be interested in reading more about how the likely voters of Chinese descent in our region view the Trump campaign, and why some of them are willing to support it; and I would like to see your story to help guide us to get a more comprehensive picture with respect to whether or not, e.g., age, gender, income, or education plays any role, and help us reach some conclusion by evidence-based causation, not stereotypical association.
For example, a recent Chinese-American immigrant working on hourly wage in a Chinese restaurant may, or may not, share the same view about the Trump campaign as another Ivy-League educated working as an executive in a high tech company; but if they are both Trump supporters, I would certainly be interested in why. If your story can provide real-life profiles like these, I believe it would be able credible and convincing.
I understand no story, comprehensive or not, may not make everyone happy; but if we try our best to stick to the fact, follow a reasonable deductive reasoning, and respect the nuance, we will win back the respect. This is also what I have told my students how to do their scientific research, even when we are under all kinds of pressure - the devil is in the detail. It is a cliche, but it is true.”
“I am a naturalized citizen and I'm a Trump supporter. I am assuming that your report is an innocent mistake and I'll try to explain why many middle class Americans like me vote for Trump.
I identify myself as an American, therefore Trump's rhetoric to China doesn't hurt me at all. In fact, I want our next president to be a) a patriot and care about the country more than himself/herself and 2) capable.