Headline RoundupFebruary 6th, 2023

Spy Balloon Fallout Prompts Reflections on Defense Policies, US-China Relations

AllSides Summary

As Navy divers began gathering pieces of the downed suspected Chinese spy balloon, media pundits gathered their thoughts around the balloon’s political implications.

The Timeline: President Joe Biden was reportedly first briefed about the balloon last Tuesday before it began making headlines on Thursday. Biden later said he told the Pentagon to shoot the balloon on Wednesday, but the military decided to wait; officials said the balloon likely could not offer China any information it didn’t already have. On Saturday, a U.S. fighter jet shot down the balloon roughly seven miles off the coast of South Carolina. Chinese officials said Monday that a second high-altitude balloon, spotted over Latin America, had come from China — again claiming it was a civilian aircraft.

Perspectives from the Left: Commentators in left-rated outlets frequently analyzed what the balloon meant for U.S.-China relations. Some analysts marveled at China’s “pure gall” and “clumsiness” for sending a detectable spy balloon. Some voices from the left appeared to frame former President Donald Trump’s balloon criticisms as hypocritical by pointing out that China briefly flew balloons over the U.S. “at least three times during Trump’s presidency.”

Perspectives from the Right: Commentators in right-rated outlets almost unanimously supported shooting the balloon down, but many called Biden a “failure” for allowing the military to wait until Saturday. Fox News (Right bias) host Tucker Carlson said the Biden administration’s stance was “scary.” The New York Post (Lean Right bias) echoed President Ronald Reagan with the line, “Mr. President, pop this balloon.” 

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