Larry King unknowingly filmed Chinese propaganda for Israeli entrepreneur

King had no idea of the subject of the interview and said he was just doing it as a favor for a guy he liked.

Larry King (photo credit: REUTERS)
Larry King
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Famed broadcaster Larry King unknowingly filmed a Chinese propaganda infomercial in an interview with a Russian journalist last year, as a favor for an Israeli entrepreneur, ProPublica reported this week. 
In the video it appeared to viewers that King began to interview Russian journalist Anastasia Dolgova, who according to her credentials was an expert on the subject of US-China relations, the proposed topic of the interview. In reality however, Dolgova's answers were later plugged into the script, as both King's and the Russian journalist's answers were pre-recorded. King said that he never even watched the video, and had no idea what the interview was about when he taped the questions.
The topic of the interview was the story of a Chinese man whose deportation from the US the Chinese government is seeking after accusing him in a covert social media campaign of crimes such as rape and kidnapping, after the man accused China's government of being corrupt.
Later on King told ProPublica in an interview that he had filmed the interview as favor to Jacobi Niv, an Israeli entrepreneur, who King had often filmed infomercials for over the course of ten years. 
"To me, it was just a small favor to a guy I like," King told ProPublica. "I have no idea what it was for."
One morning, Niv sent an interview script to King's executive producer at Ora, Jason Rovuo, who quickly recognized that the script wasn't Niv's typical fare, as it seemed to be China news related, and had nothing to do with Israel. Niv told ProPublica after the fact, that Itai Rapoport, an Israeli former journalist who runs a production company had approached him to sign a deal covering US China relations. 
According to ProPublica, Raporport has a production company in Israel who typically works on a number of China-Israel videos.
The video, published on Youtube on April 5, 2019, began with an extensive history of the US-China trade deficit, before breaking into the interview. King, a long time political commentator opened the interview with a seemingly untainted question asking how to strengthen the relationship between China and the US. Yet, the interview quickly became more pointed as the next question King posted to Dolgova, began to narrow down on what was intended to be the main subject of the interview. 
The subject of the interview was a Manhattan resident Guo Wengui, a wealthy Chinese dissident. Guo apparently fled China in 2014, as the government began to arrest his business associates. A year after his arrival Chinese media began accusing him of lurid crimes, such as rape and kidnapping, and even leaking a sex-tape obtained from a top Chinese intelligence official — of an uncooperative city bureaucrat. Chinese authorities have since sought his arrest on corruption allegations, which he has denied
“The fact that Guo is the most targeted individual by the Chinese Communist Party’s fake social media arsenal reflects the CCP’s fruitless efforts to discredit Guo and silence his campaign to bring freedom to the Chinese people,” said his attorney, Daniel Podhaskie.
In 2017, Guo accused Chinese government of corruption, to which the government reportedly responded with the Twitter campaign. 
"Dolgova, you wanted to present us with a case that you mentioned on your show as well,” the script read. “There were several Chinese people who worked in China and allegedly committed crimes there who then fled to the United States and Europe, continuing on with their normal lives while leaving many angry people behind.”
Dolgova, who according to her LinkedIn profile is the head of the International Department at Russian state-linked broadcaster REN TV, and used to be an editor and news analyst for the state-owned Russia-24 channel, ProPublica reported. 
She answered King points of view put forward by the Chinese government and continued to warn the US against granting Guo political asylum. “The US. has really gambled with someone like him,” she said. “He’s actually fled his country from criminal felonies, such as corruption, bribery, money laundering and even sexual harassment.” Guo’s case, she adds, sends a “dangerous message. ... If you are wealthy, bring your millions to America and all will be forgiven.”
Four days after the video was published copies of it were found all over Chinese social media accounts such as Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, linked to Chinese government influence campaign. As part of a broad disinformation campaign, Twitter took down some 250 fake accounts who shared the video, garnering over 10,000 views. Data released by Twitter and analyzed by ProPublica showed that nearly 40 different links to the video a total of more than 500 times.
An analysis of Twitter found that Guo is apparently won of the earliest and most frequent targets of China's Twitter influencer operations, according to data released by the Australian Strategic Institute. In another analysis done by ProPublica, nearly 30,000 accounts were found to have been linked to the Chinese government that had targeted Guo in at least one tweet.
Notably, six months before the interview was held, Russian and Chinese state controlled media outlets signed a cooperation deal agreeing to cooperate in news exchange, joint reporting and distribution, and promotion of each other’s reports, including on social media, ProPublic reported. 
After the fact, Niv admitted remorse for having shared the video as it began to circulate on social media despite efforts made to take it down.  “The only time that I got suspicious that something is not right is when I kept looking at the video again and again and again,” he said. “When I removed it, it kept coming back to YouTube.”
The CEO of Ora, King's digital TV network that he started in 2014, told ProPublica that King is no longer allowed to film infomercials on set. 
King admitted not being familiar with the Guo story, and said he did the video as a favor to Niv.  “It sounded like I was helping someone in need,” King said. “I never should have done it, obviously.”

He added that he felt stupid, and regrets having done it adding that he "had no idea it got to international scale. … Obviously, he [Niv] used me.”