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CNN Gives NBA Commissioner a Pass on Bombshell China Abuse Scandal

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In a 16-minute interview Wednesday night, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer did not ask NBA commissioner Adam Silver about a bombshell ESPN report detailing abuses at NBA academies in China.

Silver praised his league for its "long history of supporting important issues around social justice" and touted its coronavirus safety measures as it aims to restart its season, among other things. Blitzer did not bring up the NBA's relationship with the Chinese government once during the lengthy interview, nor did he tell viewers about CNN parent company WarnerMedia's partnership with the NBA.

Earlier Wednesday, ESPN reported on three academies opened in China by the NBA, where coaches reported widespread abuse of players.

"American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program," the article stated.

ESPN detailed the physical abuse of players as young as 13 at the academies. NBA employees who worked at the academies said many of the issues came from the fact that the NBA put the academies' activities under the direction of the Chinese government.

"We were basically working for the Chinese government," a former coach said.

Many of the players in the academies did not attend any classes despite Silver's promise that they would receive an education.

"Top international prospects will benefit from a complete approach to player development that combines NBA-quality coaching, training and competition with academics and personal development," Silver said in 2016 when the announcement of the opening of the academies was made.

Silver has been an outspoken supporter of progressive social causes and made the maximum contribution possible to Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

One former employee compared the atmosphere at an academy in the heavily policed Xinjiang region to "World War II Germany." Coaches reported being surveilled by the Chinese government, and one coach said he was detained three times without cause.

The region of Xinjiang is noteworthy for its concentration camps reportedly containing one million Uyghurs, a historically Muslim ethnic minority in China. Drone footage taken within the region has shown hundreds of blindfolded and chained Uyghurs being loaded onto trains.

The NBA is connected to CNN through Turner Sports, a subsidiary of WarnerMedia that operates NBA TV. WarnerMedia announced the combination of Turner Sports, CNN, and AT&T Sportsnet in 2019 to form WarnerMedia News & Sports. CNN president Jeff Zucker will head the division.