In seeking to airbrush Mr. Bo out of public life, party mandarins in Beijing have dusted off a strategy perfected during the Cultural Revolution and further tweaked during the political purges that followed the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
“There is a manual on how to delete the legacies of a fallen leader, and they’ve got it down to the smallest details,” said Minxin Pei, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California.
The results have been swift and efficient. Residents say that just 15 hours after Mr. Bo’s ouster, Chongqing’s satellite television station, which he had required to broadcast only commercial-free “red culture” programming, began showing advertisements. Then came a media campaign meant to destroy his reputation.
But the party’s sudden vilification of Mr. Bo and his once-lauded projects has laid bare its thin ideological marrow. After years of instructing citizens to revere Mr. Bo, the party has aggravated public cynicism by orchestrating his hasty downfall.
“People here just don’t trust the central government,” said a local magazine journalist, who described the orders from editors to stop reporting on Mr. Bo’s accomplishments. “Now they’re telling us Bo’s a bad guy. But no government official is innocent. At least we know our lives got better after he came.”