Trish Regan vs Liu Xin – Who Won?
The answer to who won the lowest key, highest drama debate of the year
The story of Trish Regan and Liu Xin is the story of two women battling it out while weaponising very different strategies for debate.
Regan is a republican business reporter who was in hot water only last year for her disproven comments about Denmark, their education system and their similarity to Venezuela.
Liu is the Chinese television show host of ‘The Point with Liu Xin’ an “opinion show” on Chinese TV network CGTN.
The two women could not be more different, and neither could their priorities.
Starting with Regan
Regan’s tone right from the outset was the slow speaking and cold sarcasm of a reporter that’s cornering its prey.
The first clue into Regan’s priorities is when she introduces Liu’s television show as
“overseen by the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party.”
Immediately we can see that the debate position she’s taking is that Liu isn’t credible because she’s a communist. This is playing on the fear and hated Americans have had towards communism since the Cold War.
“And though she and I may not agree on everything, I believe this is actually a really unique opportunity.”
Everything in that sentence is telling the audience that they mustn’t trust her guest once she arrives.
She opens the line by reminding the audience that Liu is a communist and is therefore a puppet of the communist party. She then follows it up by saying that what Liu says therefore can’t be credible. She then uses the word unique, a word I’d use to describe animals that aren’t cute but are deadly.
“An opportunity to hear a very different view.”
Choosing the word ‘different’ along with her drawn-out tone is the icing on the cake to ensure that we’re as skeptical as possible before Liu begins talking.
What’s wrong with that?
What’s wrong with it isn’t that it’s untrue, it’s that it’s so unsubtle.
She is handing Liu a huge lead in the debate by being so reckless with her feelings and opinions.
Rather than be civil and attempting to seem unbiased before beginning the conversation, she’s showing every card in her hand seconds before the poker even starts. This sets Liu up to be the “civil one” and win the case for public approval.
This isn’t just a debate between two reporters, this is a standoff between two countries – and guess which one just made themselves look like the bad guy? It sure as hell wasn’t the communists.
Regan finishes by informing us that unlike her guest, she is speaking completely independently. She reminds us that Liu is speaking as a puppet.. aah I mean member of the communist party.
Don’t forget kids, the woman’s a communist.
With that in mind we’re finally able to meet Liu Xin.
Introducing Liu Xin
Liu’s opening line is by far the most obvious and easiest move in the debate – she tells us how honoured she feels to be speaking to so many families in the United States and that the honour is “unprecedented.”
Assuming Regan has a large audience and mentioning how honoured she is to be talking to them is a big and important compliment.
Why the compliment matters so much is because of how much a kind introduction matters to the people of China.
While people around the world often see the Chinese people as rude, especially after taking a holiday here and observing some ..abrupt behaviour; Chinese people actually have very kind customs when it comes to meeting someone for the first time.
Greeting Regan this kindly is vital – for the spin back home.
Everything a Chinese representative does in front of a foreign audience needs to be easily spinnable into something the Communist party can use for propaganda later.
Oh no she didn’t..
Regan begins with a pretty standard introduction layered in condescension and assumptions before allowing Liu to make her kind introduction; then immediately interrupts her “three times” as was later reported on the Chinese network CCTV.
Regan could not have done a better job in helping out the Chinese spin team.
Regan’s rude introduction followed by all the interrupting was reported back in China almost immediately.
But wait.. She’s not a communist?
A lot of people I know were confused by Liu’s confession of not being a member of the Communist party of China. They naturally assumed that she was lying, but wondered how that would play back home.
The reality is that while all Chinese people live under the rule of the Communist party, only a few can actually be a member of the party.
Becoming a member is difficult, takes study and costs annual party dues. (Money).
She was telling the truth, she isn’t a member. But that doesn’t mean she’s unsubscribed from the communist belief system and certainly doesn’t mean she’s not being controlled in her words and actions. She is most definitely under a measure of control by the party.
The mistake that Regan kept making throughout the debate was making assumptions, treating emotion as fact and speaking impulsively.
I think that Liu’s ability to stay on message, stick to her very well planned script and stay levelheaded ultimately worked out in her favour.
Unfortunately for us, we were all expecting a lively debate, and we were right to expect that.
The two reporters had engaged in a fiery Twitter feud that led up to the debate and it was exciting to imagine where the arguing might have led.
Unfortunately only about 2 minutes after it had started, the debate cooled down and it became a boring conversation about trade. Regan spent her time seemingly talking off-the-cuff and Liu spoke from a well rehearsed and researched script.
The best part of Liu’s script was how well she looked like she didn’t have a script. The head shaking, the look of confusion about the question; it all added up to answers that looked genuine and honest.
Regan however constantly looked genuinely stumped, especially when it seemed she was blaming the satellite but was really scrambling for what to do next to control the narrative.
I suspect that what went wrong on the American side was that Regan was scoring for a fight.
She’d taken off her rings, pulled back her hair and was ready for a scrap – but then Liu turned up in a suit and merely laid down.
English language reports of the debate so far are covering it as a boring conversation where barely anything happened. It’s also being reported as a debate that wasn’t a debate at all.
It absolutely was a debate, but a debate where one side was far more ready than the other.
Right now the Chinese side is reporting that a visionary Chinese reporter battled it out against a rude American that cut her off and fought emotionally.
China’s aim has always been to control the information that makes it to their population, and for a while it worked.
The great internet firewall blocked the Chinese population off from information for years, but thanks to VPN’s, everyone eventually got through.
The Government knows they can’t block the information anymore, so instead they’re shaping it.
So what really happened today?
Normally we’d look at the American reporting and weight it against the Chinese reporting, but while China is standing up for their own, America is too busy in-fighting to stand up for anyone.
This is allowing China to report the debate however they want with absolutely no-one proving them wrong.
This debate has accomplished exactly what it was meant to accomplish – on the Chinese side. China looks strong and rational – America looks petty and small.
America needs a spin team. Dear God no, I don’t mean Trump.