Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, so the reign of happy sunshine and rainbows has begun.
Here was taxpayer-funded DR’s lead story on their website the morning of Inauguration Day:
ANALYSIS: Farewell to Trump – not to the anger and the hate, Steffen Kretz, DR.dk, January 20
“Americans,” ace USA correspondent Steffen Kretz begins, “tend to choose an antidote to the leader they just had.”
That’s not entirely accurate: in the last few decades Americans have tended to replace outgoing two-term presidents with presidents from the other party, but going back to Nixon we’ve re-elected five presidents and sent only three packing after their first term. So more often than not, we choose the leader we just had.
“After the elite professor, Barack Obama,” Kretz continues, “came the provocateur and reality tv star, Donald Trump.”
Barack Obama was a machine politician from Chicago who successfully cast himself, with help from an adoring media, as an elite professor. Donald Trump was a mouthy real estate guy from Queens whom the media successfully cast as the Dark Lord of Hell.
“And after four years of constant chaos with Trump comes the quiet grandfather Joe Biden – and Biden now promises the the USA is back as the nation we know…. But that promise is easier to make than to keep.”
(So Joe Biden’s promising to make America great again? And how much of that chaos was Trump’s doing, and how much caused by his political adversaries on Congress, the media, and the activist public at large?)
I’m not going to go through Kretz’s article line by line, although I’d like to. It certainly deserves a thorough going over. But I think what’s more important, and more useful, is why the piece screams out for examination: and that’s its assumptions.
The article is written entirely from the perspective of a credulous American Democrat: someone who believes that the words printed in partisan outfits like the Times and Post can be taken as gospel, and that the hysterics of on-air personalities at CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast news media are sober reflections on events of the day. Someone who sincerely believes that Democratic politicians are dedicated public servants always acting in the public interest and speaking the unvarnished truth, while Republican politicians are lying frauds, always on the make, always looking for some new way to cheat or exploit the public.
Kretz writes as someone whose own political leanings are in synch with the big government, welfare-state, collectivist, and identitarian policies of the American left. He writes not just as someone who doesn’t understand American conservatives, but can’t even be troubled to make a good faith effort to do so.
Those are his assumptions. It’s where his analysis begins. The putative point of the article is to set out for readers just how divided a nation America has become, and how hard it will be for Joe Biden to bridge that gap, but instead of a dispassionate survey of the forces arrayed on the field, he gives us the view from his place in the middle of one of the camps.
Kretz observes, correctly, that “Joe Biden’s real test will consist in how he chooses to handle the fact that he’s going to be president of something that can today only on paper be called the ‘United States’ of America.”
(Technically he says “the USA’s united states,” but that parses out to “the United States of America’s united states,” which strikes me as awkward in Danish and English.)
He’s also correct in noting that Trump isn’t the cause of America’s anguish and upheaval, but a symptom. That’s something I’ve been saying for years.
Having made these observations, however, Kretz immediately blames much of the disease on the symptom.
He notes that extreme economic inequality has grown under Trump, that the “struggle between the races” has flared up under Trump, and that misinformation and conspiracy theories have spread “like wildfire” under Trump, “often reinforced or originating directly from the Oval Office.”
In fact, prior to the Wuhan virus (which I’ll resume calling COVID-19, as I had been until very recently, as soon as everyone stops talking about “the British mutation” and “the South African variant”), the American economy had been rocketing upward by every metric: lower- and middle-income Americans of every color and sex saw more real economic gains under Trump’s first three years than they had under any previous administration in decades—or ever. The market was roaring. Business was booming. The “extreme income inequality” Kretz notes is largely the result of a handful of wildly leftist tech billionaires amassing more wealth than anyone in human history. (Readers who believe that rising living standards for everyone are a bad thing if some people are making massive fortunes are referred to Thomas Sowell.)
The “struggle between the races” was largely the consequence of the left fanning the flames of racial discontent as a desperate political operation to prevent Trump from making political inroads with the minority communities—inroads that he made anyway, gaining more black and Latino votes than any Republican candidate in decades.
And while misinformation and conspiracy theories were indeed spreading “like wildfire”—or like clichés in a freshman comp class—they were hardly unidirectional. We now know (and have known for quite a while) that the entire “Russian Collusion” narrative was itself a conspiracy theory set in motion as an “insurance policy” to knock Trump out of office after his surprising win in 2016. We know the crazy accusations hurled at Trump and his administration by champions of the left like Michael Avenatti were just deranged fever dreams (establishment media actually reported totally unsubstantiated allegations that Brett Kavanaugh had run drug-fueled rape orgies back in the 80s). We know that many of the anonymous sources feeding stories to the establishment were not the high-ranking officials they were sold as, but low-ranking bureaucrats with axes to grind.
Recall how Kretz set things up: he says Trump is just a symptom (which, again, I happen to agree with), and then he immediately diagnoses the symptom as the cause of several diseases.
As if a a stuffy nose could give you a cold, or a hangover could make you drunk.
It doesn’t occur to him that one of the reasons things got worse is that the left was working around the clock to make them so. We know that’s true because so many of them said it out loud, whether wishing for an economic crash (late night comedy host Bill Maher), or saying lockdowns mustn’t be lifted until after the election (Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer), or saying that blacks who vote for Trump “ain’t black” (U.S. President Joe Biden).
Then he takes a graceful leap into Democratic catechism:
For four years, society’s foundational institutions have been undermined and attacked by the country’s highest office—by the President of the United States. The foundation of democracy is faltering, and the division is colossal.
I’d like a fact check on that first sentence. Media people like Kretz say things like this very often without citing a single example. They all know Trump has been undermining democracy, they all know he’s been attacking our institutions: only they never say how.
Because they can’t.
Trump is a loudmouth. He’s a braggart. He’s a narcissist. His style is crass and brash. He’s vindictive. He says stupid things. He lies. His hair is a train wreck. Agreed.
Okay. Now show me the institutions he’s undermined. List for me the ways in which he damaged or threatened to damage democracy.
Wasn’t it the left that, under Obama, weaponized the IRS against conservatives? Wasn’t it the left that weaponized federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies against the executive branch for political purposes? Wasn’t it the left that’s been crying out against the electoral college, the Supreme Court, and the Senate? Hasn’t the left been championing defiant executive branch bureaucrats who’ve been working to thwart the will of their chief executive? Wasn’t it the left that dubbed themselves the resistance to a duly elected president? Isn’t it the left that came up with the novel idea of “sanctuary cities,” in defiance of federal law?
Trump has shattered a lot of the behavioral norms of the presidency, and I’ll accept the argument that he’s diminished the office by his deportment. (Althouh at least Trump’s deportment didn’t leave stains on dresses.)
It’s a hell of a thing to say someone has undermined our institutions and knocked our democracy off its foundations. It’s a big thing to say. It deserves some supporting argumentation every time it’s said.
It gets none. (None that stands up to reason, in any case.)
It’s just something Democrats say and the media repeat, over and over, until it becomes something everyone “knows.”
You can despise Donald Trump and his policies and every single member of his cabinet, and staff, and family, but that doesn’t let you off the hook from the need to back up such breath-taking claims. You don’t get a freebie on that. Show your work.
Kretz doesn’t bother because it doesn’t even dawn on him that such a thing is necessary. It’s superfluous to him. No one offers supporting evidence for their belief that the sun’ll come up tomorrow.
And that’s the problem, the biggest problem of all.
Ask yourself whether this doesn’t sound a little strained:
A new poll from NPR shows that 70 percent of Republican voters still believe Trump’s lies that he really won the election but it was stolen from him through massive voter fraud.
Republicans have to drop that lie if Americans are going to look each other in the eye.
Trump himself hasn’t thought about repudiating the lie.
Wonderfully enough, that whole passage is built on a thing that’s not true. (I wish I could remember the word for such a thing.)
In fact, the poll from NPR shows that 72% of Republicans (and 28% of independents, and even a handful of Democrats) answered “No” to the question: “Do you trust that the results of the 2020 election are accurate?”
Think about that for a minute.
The poll asks: “Do you trust that the results were accurate?”
Kretz somehow reads that as “Do you still believe Trump’s lies that he won the election but it was stolen by massive fraud?”
Kretz: Do you believe in the Easter Bunny?
Kretz: Greg Nagan despises Christianity and rejects its sacred symbolism.
You can distrust the 2020 election results without it having anything to do with fraud, or Trump. You might, for example, believe that the results were manipulated by Russian hackers.
That was a popular belief among a majority of Democrats after the 2016 election.
Which is interesting when you look at Kretz’s prescription for what must come next:
If the world, especially US allies like Denmark, are going to dare to trust Biden’s word that “the USA is back,” it requires that the Republicans turn away from the Trump era, distance themselves from Trump’s populist nationalism, and tell Americans the truth about the election:
That Trump cost the party both the presidency and power in both Congressional chambers, and that he lost by a free and fair election.
If anyone, especially anyone conversant with both sides of American political thought, is going to take Steffen Kretz seriously as a “USA Correspondent,” it requires that—
Just kidding. No one conversant with both sides of American political thought is ever going to take Steffen Kretz seriously as anything but an ardent Democratic partisan. (Having watched some of his inaugural coverage this evening, I state that with redoubled conviction.) He might as well be jumping around with blue pom-poms.
Saying as he does that he, and Denmark, and the world want “America back” isn’t saying anything that’s real or true or based on any kind of factual information at all. It’s another talking point. It’s simply parroting what American Democrats have been saying since they lost the White House in 2016. They want America back, and they wanted it so badly that their 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton said in very plain language that they (Democrats) were under no obligation to be civil until they were back in power.
Her exact quote (from an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour): “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”
Do you think ace correspondent Steffen Kretz understands what he’s saying? That in saying that America’s only America when it’s under Democratic control, he’s actually contributing to, not chronicling, the American divide?
Of course not.
Because he spends most of the second half of his article decrying the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation on social media and in the news, and complaining about the internet’s “radicalization” of Americans with all that dodgy info. He tells us he’s met with many Americans and seen it for himself, and it reminds him of the radicalized young men he’s met in the Middle East. Maybe he’s talking about Antifa here, in which case he may have a point, but I doubt it.
As he wraps things up, he says:
If democracy is to survive in the USA, Americans must once again have a common understanding of what’s true and false. They don’t have to agree, but they have to live in the same world.
This is a little breathless for my taste—this is supposed to be a news article, not an opinion column—but I agree that we need a common understanding of what’s true and false. Not just to prevent America from running off the rails, but to prevent the other countries of western civilization from sliding into the quicksand of permanent polarity.
One thing that’s true, and that I have yet to hear a single Democratic politician or establishment media journalist say, is that Democratic leadership lied for three years about the evidence that Trump “colluded” with Russia to pervert the results of the 2016 election. Owning up to that would be a great step forward.
“I’ve seen the evidence with my own eyes!” they roared at the cameras.
“I’m not aware of the existence of any such evidence,” they confessed in sworn testimony behind closed doors.
It’s not just that they were reciting accusations they knew to be false: they were citing those accusations as justification for delegitimizing Trump’s entire presidency, for “not normalizing” him, for hounding his administration with investigations, for calling for his impeachment from the first day of his presidency. For resisting. For harassing his supporters in public.
The media ate it all up…. except the part about the acknowledgements that none of it was true.
That’s all a matter of public record.
The same people gaslighted us about the violence that afflicted American cities all summer (Jerry Nadler went so far as to call the violence in Portland “a myth”). They lied about their own reactions to the Wuhan virus in January and February (“Don’t let Trump’s xenophobia scare you, come on down and dance with us in Chinatown!”). They lied about a great many things.
I’m not saying Trump didn’t lie, or that he doesn’t lie: he did and does and he gets called out for it every time. He even gets called out for lying when he’s not actually lying.
I am saying that I’m not aware of a single Democratic politician being called out for their lies by the establishment media, not a one of them, even though their lies were instrumental in creating and exacerbating the very “divide” that the media claim to be so worried about.
So I’m with Steffen Kretz on that much: we need to agree on what is true and what is false.
But that’s no easy thing when journalists like Steffen Kratz are working as partisan propagandists.
Steffen Kretz is a symptom. So are all of his confederates at DR, and at TV2, and at the ostensibly right-of-center Berlingske.
So are all of their American peers.
They are a symptom of a press that has lost the willingness, if not the ability, to separate their own leftist partisan outlook from truth; that interprets ideological and philosophical differences as disagreements on what is and is not true.
Whether writing about politics, current events, foreign affairs, business, economics, culture and entertainment, sports, or technology, the underlying assumptions are baked into the reporting. I don’t believe it’s even being done consciously in most cases: it’s simply that at some point in the recent past the profession of journalism became so universally populated with leftists that they lost the capacity to report from any other perspective.
The result is that journalists who don’t share that point of view are either driven out of the field or to explicitly right-of-center outlets.
As this process continues, consumers gravitate toward the media that most closely reflect their own epistemological outlooks.
Once that separation achieves a critical mass (which I believe it did years ago), basic marketing principles simply accelerate process: the media see their ratings (viewers, listeners, visitors, likers, sharers) affected by the extent to which they embrace or deviate from their partisanship.
So the New York Times can no longer run a thoughtful interview with, say, Jordan Peterson; neither can the New York Post give a fair hearing to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It would alienate their readers, and alienating readers is a lousy business model. That means Times readers have no idea what Jordan Peterson is really about, any more than Post readers can understand AOC. Reporting by CNN and FOX describes the same event in completely different ways.
Given where we started, it is still the left-dominated media that dominate in every branch of media, but that won’t last forever. More and more right-of-center media are popping up every day. Market dynamics ensure that trend will continue (unless the emboldened political and corporate left continue purging them, in which case all bets are off as to what comes next).
One wonders whether there’s even still a market for media that aren’t anchored in a partisan view of the world. As anyone who’s raised a toddler knows, once you start giving people what they want instead of what they need, you’ve made it very hard to switch back. No one who’s been getting ice cream for dinner is going to eat their spinach without a fight.
So yes, Steffen, there is indeed a problem in America, and the rest of the western world, with separating truth from fiction.
So take a bow.