Saturday, April 30, 2022

Asian Boss interviews political party officials in Taiwan and doesn't disclose that fact

KMT official Eric Huang (黃裕鈞) being interviewed by Asian Boss, who didn't disclose his position. But hey, at least he calls Taiwan a country!

After the last debacle with Asian Boss, I was hoping I'd be done forever with them. Vox pop interviews aren't a very good way to gauge public opinion, but I'd hoped they'd learned their lesson after the last time they set up a fake "street interview" with a deep blue Youtuber and got caught immediately. We know they use these tactics because the videographer they tried to hire for that interview talked openly about how Asian Boss approached them and what they were trying to do. 

The next video they released from Taiwan didn't include any set-up interviews that I could find. It wasn't a particularly good video, but as far as anyone can tell it was all above-board and done mostly ethically. The worst I could say about it was that the translations in some cases were a bit off, and didn't wholly accurately express what the people interviewed were trying to say.

This latest video, however, contains a huge disclosure issue. One of the first people to appear on the "vox pop" video about mandatory military service in Taiwan is the KMT Deputy Director for International Affairs Eric Huang (黃裕鈞). You may remember Huang for being tasked recently with reopening a KMT party office in the United States.

Huang posted the video quickly to his Facebook feed and admits he was the person in the video (between the mask and different haircut, it was difficult to tell at first). 

He also insists he was approached randomly on the street near his home in central Taipei, and that he disclosed to them that he worked in politics. 

The fact is, I can't prove that either of these statements is untrue. All I can say is that it seems implausible for a busy party official most well-known for a job that requires him to be in the US frequently to not only be stopped randomly, out of all the other pedestrians they might have picked, and that we already know -- from the link above -- that Asian Boss has created fake street interviews before. 

The question, however, is whether it matters.

The problem with this isn't that Huang appeared in a video. While the difference between seeking someone out and passing them off as a street interview is pertinent, even if it can't be proven beyond a doubt, it's still a major problem on the part of Asian Boss that they interviewed someone who is (was?) slated to be the KMT's deputy representative in Washington (apparently he's only back in Taiwan to get that set up). Rumors are that he might instead run for city councilor in Taipei. It doesn't really matter -- he's a well-known KMT figure in the news and Asian Boss did not disclose that fact.

Whether this was indeed a random meet-up (again, implausible) or a planned interview, Asian Boss certainly knew of Huang's position in the KMT and said not a thing about it. They treated him like an ordinary citizen with a non-political job.

That is wrong. It's unethical. It's presenting a false narrative. 

Asian Boss got caught doing this before, and should have learned that if they're going to make mediocre street interviews in Taiwan, at the very least they have to actually do random vox pops. Apparently they also need to be reminded that they can't interview people they know are political party officials -- again, random or not, Huang says he disclosed this -- and pretend they're just anybody. They're not. Unlike, say, a schoolteacher, software engineer, accountant, designer or fry cook, the job of a political official actually matters in this context. 

From an ethical standpoint, one does need to disclose such things. So why didn't they? Do they want to keep ensuring that they get their desired amount of pan-blue viewpoints? Do they want to push a particular consensus view but can only do that if some interviews are not entirely, honestly disclosed? Why?

Seriously, Asian Boss. Why? If your goal, as you often state, is to platform Asian voices without political bias or agenda, why don't you actually do that?

And why, exactly, does Asian Boss keep doing this with pan-blue people, whether they be Youtubers or party officials, but never even things out and interview pan-green ones? They could easily do both, as long as they disclosed that fact. It's suspicious that this behavior only flows to one side of the political spectrum. Perhaps it tells you something about Asian Boss's own biases.

I have to admit that nothing Huang actually says in the interview is that bad. He calls Taiwan a country and clarifies that it would never do anything to provoke a war. Of course, the KMT's idea of actions that should be avoided lest they "provoke a war" doesn't exactly line up with my opinion, as they often use it as a cudgel to criticize any acknowledgement that Taiwan is already independent -- but that's beside the point. Huang himself has been called somewhat 'better' and 'more enlightened' than the dark blue oldsters that occupy many party positions, and while I am sure there are many things we don't agree on, but they're not on display here.

Frankly, what he says here is reasonable enough that a friend of mine wouldn't have noticed he was in the video at all if he hadn't recognized him, and I wouldn't have recognized him (again, between the mask and the haircut, it's not very obvious) if he hadn't posted about it himself on Facebook. 

Asian Boss, however, needs to do better. Their actions in Taiwan are suspicious enough that their entire global operation should be called into question, and their videos from other countries also checked for these sorts of issues. If they do this in Taiwan, how can they be trusted not to do it elsewhere, too?

They need to disclose who is in their videos, if their job is relevant. Eric Huang's job is relevant to the questions being asked. If they're going to make middle-brow videos in Taiwan, at the very least they have to do so ethically. 

Or they'll just keep getting caught.

1 comment:

johnxchiu said...

I've read a couple of your pieces, especially the ones regarding Asian Boss. So I had to just drop by and say thanks for loving our country and caring enough to write about it.