The American media has been quick to nail two presidents and Boeing for pushing a great big lie about China ordering 200 new jet airliners.

But not quick enough to prevent Boeing stock investors being ripped off by a spike caused by contrived euphoria.

The lying started when the White House trumpeted an announcement of an order for 200 Boeing jets as meetings between the President of China, Hu Jintao, and the President of the United States, Barack Obama, entered the smiling-for-the-cameras mode.

Boeing, which is no stranger to making evasive or inaccurate statements about its airliners, then weighed in with a precisely qualified ‘approval’ announcement.

SEATTLE, Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing (NYSE: BA) is pleased to have received final approval today from the Chinese Government confirming a $19 billion aircraft agreement.

China’s approval of airline contracts for 200 orders covers aircraft to be delivered over a three-year period, 2011-2013. The approval helps Boeing maintain and expand its market share in the world’s fastest growing commercial aircraft market. Comprised of 737s and 777s, the agreement positively impacts more than 100,000 jobs including those at Boeing and with its thousands of suppliers throughout the U.S.

“We value China’s support for our products and its confidence in Boeing,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “With the outstanding support provided by the United States Government, this deal is a win-win for the Boeing-China partnership, which is approaching its 40th anniversary.”

Today, Boeing jets are a mainstay in China’s air travel and cargo system, representing more than 50 percent of all commercial jetliners operating in China. Over the next 20 years, Boeing projects that China will need 4,330 new airplanes, worth more than $480 billion, and will be Boeing’s largest commercial airplane customer.

The reference to final approvals is contrived. Real money has already been paid by China for much of the value of these jets, many of which are in the final stages of assembly. A more accurate description would have been ‘ceremonial final approval’ with an asterisk and the words  for popular media only.

The steam rising from this offering had scarcely started to cool when The Seattle Times, Flightblogger and others swooped guns blazing from the media  blindspot that obscured the White House view of  technically knowledgeable  reporters waiting in ambush.

The orders are all old. Not a single new jet. Just a classic, lying, tarted up exercising of the media recyling processes so familiar to Australian political observers.  The sort of media stunt that involves a total contempt for the truth.

And as Dominic Gates in The Seattle Times report noted:

A different headline about all those rolled-up Boeing orders, less welcome in the White House, might have said: Boeing’s pending orders in China fall short of Airbus’s by more than 200 jets.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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