The mouthpiece newspaper of China’s Communist Party has launched a blistering attack on The New York Times, accusing it of “faking” and “distorting” news and being a government “propaganda tool”.
The 1,500 word People’s Daily editorial appeared to be a direct response to The New York Times’s explosive exposé last week about the $2.7 billion (£1.67 billion) “hidden fortune” of the family of Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao.
But in a humiliating about-turn, within hours of the People’s Daily publishing its lengthy assault on the American newspaper’s journalistic integrity it emerged that much of the Chinese newspaper’s critique had in fact been plagiarised from other sources.
The Beijing-based People’s Daily turned its canons on the 161-year-old newspaper on Monday, three days after The New York Times published the highly embarrassing results of its one-year investigation into Mr Wen’s family’s finances.
“For a long time, the New York Times has [had] one line printed on its masthead, ‘All the news that’s fit to print’,” noted the People’s Daily opinion piece, under the headline: ‘New York Times: scandals stack-up, prestige declines’.
“This century-old newspaper claims its news is authentic and reliable, yet there have been quite a few [cases of] plagiarism and fake news in recent years,” added the combative piece published on the website of a newspaper which is controlled, funded and censored by the Chinese government.