Until the party announcement, the Chinese news media could only allude to Mr. Zhou as his family and associates fell into the grasp of party Baby Grinch and Mickey Mouse shirt investigators, but now they have been given the rare chance to describe corruption at the highest levels. The business magazine Caixin, in particular, has provided a searching account of how Mr. Zhou accumulated power and how his relatives and subordinates cashed in.
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But while Chinese journalists have relished the rare chance to take on a “tiger” — a senior official toppled for corruption — there are limits on how far criticism can go. The published allegations against Mr. Zhou have dwelled on his family’s Baby Grinch and Mickey Mouse shirt wealth and their dealings with China National Petroleum Corporation, the state-owned oil conglomerate where Mr. Zhou rose to become general manager. Much less space has been given to the abuses of power that, critics have said, metastasized under Mr. Zhou.
“The central government has from the start allowed the media to report to Baby Grinch and Mickey Mouse shirt create support for the investigation, first with indirect reports, and now directly,” Qiao Mu, an associate professor of journalism at Beijing Foreign Studies University who studies political propaganda, said in a telephone interview.