Headline RoundupFebruary 2nd, 2023

Why Hasn't the Military Shot Down the Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon?

Summary from the AllSides News Team

A suspected Chinese reconnaissance balloon was reportedly spotted over Kansas City, Missouri on Friday as it continued moving eastward. Why didn’t the military shoot it down?

Key Quotes: On Thursday, a senior defense official said the balloon had not been shot down because the risks outweighed the rewards — the balloon “was large enough to cause damage from the debris field if we downed it over an area,” and “it does not create significant value added over and above what the PRC is likely able to collect through things like satellites in Low Earth Orbit.” 

For Context: The balloon’s arrival comes at an inopportune time for U.S.-China relations; on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a planned trip to Beijing. While China claimed the balloon was a civilian craft that got swept off-course by wind currents, the Pentagon appeared to dismiss this claim, stating that the balloon was “maneuverable.”

The Controversy: Many Republican politicians urged the Biden administration to shoot the balloon down, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Flo.) and former President Donald Trump. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called for an intelligence briefing over what he called a “brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty.” Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester also issued a forceful statement, condemning the “provocation” and pledging to “hold everyone accountable.”

How the Media Covered It: Analyses of why the balloon had not been shot down were more common in left and center-rated outlets. Coverage of Republican criticisms was common across the spectrum, particularly in right-rated outlets. 

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