I’ve been very critical of the establishment media in Denmark and the United States. I’ve called them “garbage media” and have used words like “execrable” and “disgusting” and “grotesque” in describing a lot of journalists and editors. I’ve called them hacks and partisans.
I’ve avoided hyberbole because none has been needed: the establishment media new outlets have indeed become garbage media, and most of their flagship personalities are truly awful journalists.
Every such indictment I’ve put out has been grounded in documented evidence of their malfeasance: when I call them liars, I show their lies. When I call them partisans, I offer proof of their partisanship.
When I call DR’s ace US correspondent Steffen Kretz “the execrable Kretz,” for example, it’s always in the context of a story in which his reporting has been execrable.
But I try to be fair-minded, so I’ve taken pains to give credit where it’s due and have posted better Danish coverage of America whenever it’s caught my eye merely to illustrate that they are indeed sometimes capable of getting it right. (Which makes their usual garbage all the more damning.)
So although I haven’t been crying wolf, I’m left with very little overhead to crank up my contempt and disgust for our media—right when I need it most.
Donald Trump calls Putin’s aggression against Ukraine “genius“
TV2 News / Ritzau, Feb 23
That story is, as usual, not unique to Denmark. Establishment media worldwide are running with it. Do a news search of your own and you’ll see variations of this same article from media all over the planet. (Or just keep reading for examples below.)
But let’s stick with this Ritzau article for now.
The lede informs us that “If Trump had still been president, the crisis in Ukraine would never have arisen, the ex-president believes.”
Fair enough: that is indeed something Trump believes, and we know that’s true because he says so. It’s a reasonable opinion to hold. After all, Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, during the Obama-Biden administration. They built up to and launched this invasion during the Biden-Harris administration. It’s not unreasonable to believe that the lack of any Russian aggressions during the Trump-Pence administration may not have been coincidental.
Here’s how the article opens:
Former US President Donald Trump praises Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and calls it “genius”.
That’s one of the most disgustingly dishonest claims I’ve encountered in almost two years of maintaining this blog, and that’s saying something. The rest of the article is just as bad, because it’s just taking words the president said and arranging them in a way that makes as sound as if Donald Trump were a big fan of Putin and was cheering on the invasion.
It’s short, so let me dump the whole steaming atrocity here before I dig into it:
At the same time, Trump says the crisis would never have arisen with him as president.
It took place on a a right-wing radio program. Here, the hosts asked Trump about Putin’s recognition of the breakaway republics of Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine as independent.
“I came into a place yesterday where there was a TV screen and I said: This is brilliant,” answered the former Republican president.
“Putin declares a large part of the Ukraine—of Ukraine—as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful,” he added.
Putin has ordered “peacekeeping” forces deployed in Lugansk and Donetsk, and on Tuesday the Russian parliament voted to give Putin formal power to send the country’s armed forces out of the country.
In other words, Putin has been given the green light to send forces to Donetsk and Lugansk.
The aggression has been met with condemnation from the West and sanctions from the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Trump calls Putin’s tactics “wise” and says, without elaborating, that the United States can copy it and use the same tactics on the border with Mexico.
Moreover, Trump believes that the crisis in Ukraine could have been completely avoided if it had been “handled correctly” by President Joe Biden, who in 2020 won the US election over Trump.
“I know Vladimir Putin really well, and he would never have done what he does now, under the Trump administration. Under no circumstances,” says the former president.
Donald Trump, who until Tuesday has been silent about the Russian threat to Ukraine – one of the US allies—also criticized the US government’s “weak” reaction.
First, notice that no details about the interview are provided, other than their having taken place on a “right wing” radio program.
Which is in itself kind of funny (in a grotesque way): CNN, The New York Times, the Washington Post (among others) are all avowedly left-wing but are never characterized that way by Ritzau. I’ll put my money where my mouth is: I’ll pay a hundred bucks to the first person who can find me an (unironic) reference by Ritzau in which the New York Times is identified as “a left-wing newspaper,” or CNN as “a left-wing news channel”—without being specified by name.
The interview took place on “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show,” which describes itself like this on its website:
Clay Travis and Buck Sexton tackle the biggest stories in news, politics and current events with intelligence and humor. From the border crisis, to the madness of cancel culture and far-left missteps, Clay and Buck guide listeners through the latest headlines and hot topics with fun and entertaining conversations and opinions.
Certainly it’s a conservative-oriented radio show, just as the Times is a progressive-oriented newspaper and CNN is a leftist-oriented news channel. But the show has a name, and a website, and its broadcasts are archived as podcasts on its website.
Here’s a link to the episode with the Donald Trump phone interview. You can hear the quoted bits about Putin beginning around the 2:40 mark.
But if you listen to the whole episode you can hear Trump say “this is a disaster in Ukraine.” He lumps it in with a bunch of other Biden failures and says this is all “so bad for our country.” And in wrapping up the subject of Ukraine, he concludes by saying it’s all “very sad, very sad.”
Listen to interview, then give the article above another read-through.
Does it seem accurate? Fair? Honest? Responsible?
Or like the poisoned, spiteful sputum of a venomous child?
Trump is clearly joking around, especially in the segment where he’s talking about the “peacekeepers” being sent into Ukraine. His sarcasm is obvious. His entire point is crystal clear: “Look at this guy, acting like his invasion is just rushing to defend two independent republics. Brilliant!”
He even says, “No, but think of it,” after his description of the “peacekeepers.” Exactly as one does when winding down from a sarcastic riff. He then drops the sarcasm and merely observes that it was a savvy play by Putin to declare the two regions “independent republics” so he could justify sending Russian troops in as “peacekeepers.”
What Trump is doing is called observing reality.
It’s something more of our politicians and journalists should do. There’s nothing unseemly or nefarious in pointing out that Putin has played the west expertly: the fact that we didn’t want him to invade Ukraine and he nevertheless invaded Ukraine and is being confronted with nothing sharper than economic sanctions—as he was in 2014 after his first invasion of Ukraine—proves the point. Putin won this round. That’s not to praise the man, or his objectives, or his actions, only to observe the obviousness of his success.
The flip side of which, of course, is the obvousness of our failure.
By “our,” I mean the west’s. By which I mean our political leaders and opinion leaders. How were they outplayed by Putin? Certainly not because they were “genius.”
Never mind the impenetrable stupidity of recent statements by Biden and Harris—we can take two examples from abroad: one from Germany, and one shining example from the UK.
In Germany, Prime Minister Olaf Scholz yesterday announced that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project would not be certified. What pipeline is that? The pipeline being built to bring gas into Europe from Russia. The pipeline that critics warned would make Europe far too reliant on Russia for energy. The pipeline Donald Trump tried to kill by imposing sanctions on any company doing business with Russia’s state-owned Gazprom unless and until Gazprom shut the project down—you know, the pipeline that Biden enabled by removing Trump’s sanctions, right around the time he canceled America’s own Keystone XL Pipeline.
The UK example is even more remarkable.
Back in February, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. It didn’t go well. Lavrov played a cruel trick on her—here’s the account from Reuters:
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper quoted two diplomatic sources as saying that during their closed-door meeting on Thursday Lavrov had asked Truss if she recognised Russian sovereignty over Rostov and Voronezh—two regions in the south of the country (Russia) where Russia has been building up its forces.
Kommersant said Truss replied that Britain would never recognise them as Russian, and had to be corrected by her ambassador.
Britain does not dispute the sovereignty of the regions in question. A British source said Truss had misheard during the meeting, and rejected Peskov’s characterisation of the West’s understanding of the conflict.
Of course: because “Rostov and Voronezh” sound exactly like “Lugansk and Donetsk.”
According to Euronews.com coverage of the same episode, “In a later interview with another Russian paper, Truss said she had mistakenly thought Lavrov was referring to Ukrainian provinces.”
First she heard wrong, then she heard right but just forgot what country they were in.
Rule Brittannia, baby!
That’s the Foreign Secretary of a once-great western power getting tripped up by the kind of stupid “dirty trick” Mike Brady might have dreamed up in an episode of The Brady Bunch.
Let’s look at one particularly reprehensible passage in the Ritzau article: “Trump calls Putin’s tactics ‘wise’ and says, without elaborating, that the United States can copy it and use the same tactics on the border with Mexico.”
Listen to the audio. Trump is mocking the idea that the forces invading are peacekeepers. He’s clearly suggesting that this is obviously a military force (“I never saw so many tanks in my life!”), and he’s emphasizing its strength with a joke about how nice it would be to have such strength protecting America’s porous southern border.
You know why he didn’t elaborate on that?
Because it was a fucking joke.
This isn’t just spin. This isn’t a misrepresentation. This is aggressively hostile propaganda.
This whole article is.
And as I noted earlier, it’s not an outlier. Here’s a screenshot from a Google news search I conducted this afternoon—these are the top results, but trust me: it goes on, and on, and on:
The top result, from Vanity Fair, wins the award for Best in Class: “Trump Calls Putin’s Ukraine Moves ‘Genius’ Because He’s a Sick Man Who Hates Democracy.”
You know who hates democracy? Someone who writes a headline like that. Someone who publishes it. Someone who shares it on social media with a Squee! of delight.
Because it’s a calculated and deliberate lie.
This is sick, stupid, and dangerous. It’s not journalism. It’s not even infotainment.
It’s worse than propaganda: it’s deception.
And every time I keep thinking it can’t get any worse, something like this comes along to prove me wrong.