EXCLUSIVE: President Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) failed to disclose to the Senate a media appearance on Chinese state TV, which may have been used as propaganda by the communist state to cover up a mass stabbing of children.
Biden's ATF nominee David Chipman appeared on a Chinese state-run media network, China Global Television Network (CGTN), previously known as CCTN, in December 2012 to discuss the government's response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history that killed 28 people and injured two.
CGTN, which reaches 30 million households within the U.S., "is an arm of China’s propaganda machine. It is controlled by the Communist Party and serves as part of what Mr. Xi has called Beijing’s ‘publicity front.’" as described by the New York Times. In 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) required CGTN to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
According to DOJ, in order to protect the U.S. from covert foreign influence, FARA "requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute" to disclose periodic updates to the department.
On the same day as the Newtown Massacre, there was a mass stabbing of 23 children at a school in China's Henan Province. As Reuters reported at the time, "On the same day as the Newtown shooting, a crazed man broke into a school building in central China, stabbing and slashing 23 pupils in an attack that, although not fatal, lit up the Internet - but barely registered with official state media."
"Instead, media gave top coverage to the U.S. shooting and barely mentioned the Henan school attack, a decision that has drawn sharp criticism of the ruling Communist Party’s readiness to reflect on the ills of U.S. society but not on China’s own," the Reuters report continued.
The Chinese government reportedly ordered its central propaganda department to "downplay" the Henan attack, including by focusing news coverage on the Newtown Massacre in the U.S.
Biden ATF nominee David Chipman failed to disclose an interview with a Chinese propaganda outlet (Rod Lamkey / CNP/Sipa USA)
According to China Digital Times, a website following social and political developments in China and run by the University of California, "the government’s central propaganda department ordered all official media to downplay the Henan attack."
In addition, The Tea Leaf Nation online magazine, which analyzes social media in China, found that "particularly vexing to observers was mainstream media’s following evident marching orders to downplay the Chinese tragedy in service of emphasizing the Newtown massacre, followed by local Guangshan government’s unwillingness to cooperate with an increasingly inquisitive press," according to a report by the Miami Herald.
Chipman did not disclose his 2012 appearance on CGTN in written responses to the Senate's questions for the record.
However, he listed at least 16 pages of previous interviews and quotes he provided to media, including at least two events and interviews in which he spoke about the Newtown Massacre. None of the information listed included the CGTN media appearance.
Chipman included a disclaimer before listing his media appearances, writing, "I have done my best to identify all interviews given, including through a review of my personal files, and searches of publicly available electronic databases. Despite my searches, there may be other materials that I have been unable to identify, find, or remember."
The December 2012 CGTN interview is readily available to the public on YouTube, under the title "David Chipman on Connecticut school shooting: What can be done next?" The clip has collected over 6,000 views.
The White House declined to provide Fox News with a comment on Chipman's failure to disclose his 2012 CGTN appearance to the Senate.
Throughout his confirmation process, Chipman has come under fire from conservatives and gun rights advocates. The Senate is still looking into allegations that he may have lost his service weapon while an ATF agent, although the agency told Fox News that it does not have a record of Chipman misplacing his firearm.
In addition, a recent report corroborated allegations that Chipman had made racist comments about Black ATF agents up for promotion, prompting all GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee to call for a second hearing for the embattled nominee.
It is not clear when the Senate plans to vote on Chipman's nomination, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill,, doubled down on his support for the nominee this week.