Notes from the Algarve: II

media

If you’re a full-throated left-wing extremist—if you still want George Bush and Dick Cheney hog-tied before a Hague war crimes tribunal, for example, and if you believe American news media are biased to the right, and if you simply cannot understand why Donald Trump still hasn’t been taken out and shot— then Poul Høi is your guy.

I’ll make the usual disclaimers: I have never met Poul Høi and have no idea what kind of stuff the man is made of. My criticisms of him—my disgust with him, my contempt for him, my revulsion at virtually everything he’s ever written about America—have nothing to do with the man himself, and everything to do with his writing. His articles should be scanned with a Geiger counter before publication and should not be read by anyone not wearing a hazmat suit.

When I first came to Denmark—no, when I first became literate in Danish, which was a couple years after my arrival—I was horrified several times a week by Poul Høi’s articles in Berlingske Tidende. He was ostensibly the main US correspondent for that “borgerlig” (bourgeois; center-right) newspaper, but his vision of America was what you’d expect from someone seeing it through a fun-house mirror—while tripping their teeth out on acid.

Eventually he stopped appearing in Berlingske so frequently, which was a relief—believe it or not, even the wild propagandist Mikkel Danielsen represented an improvement. And gradually I forgot about him completely.

Until this morning, when browsing Berlingske’s website while broiling beside the pool I ran into this:

That was their lead story, placed side by side with a story about Jonas Vingegaard—the Dane who will in all likelihood with the Tour de France later today. And note that it’s not an opinion piece: it’s filed as analysis. As news.

Russian agent seduced millionaire who talked Trump into coup d’état. The story tells something about the extreme right
Poul Høi, Berlingske.dk, July 24

I’m not going to waste valuable vacation time breaking it all down: suffice to say that General Michael Flynn, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Patrick Byrne were manipulated by Vladimir Putin to persuade Donald Trump into carrying out a coup d’état, and we know this largely thanks to the tweets of disgraced former intelligence officer Peter Stzrock.

Høi uses their willingness to sell America out to Russia as a launching pad for his article, which wonders aloud why on earth so many rank and file conservatives aren’t horrified by these men, and others like them in other countries whose conservative leaders are also under Putin’s thumb. He takes the obligatory swipe at Tucker Carlson, casting him as some kind of Putin apologist when all Carlson has ever tried to do is make the case (rightly or wrongly) that Ukraine is of very limited strategic importance to the United States.

It’s hysterical stuff, breathless and terrified. It belongs in the communist Information, or the socialist Politiken. It would be right at home if Rachel Maddow read it aloud in English on MSNBC. But it has absolutely no business being presented as political “analysis” in any sober publication.

What makes it even worse—and more suspicious—is that more and more information has been pouring out of Hunter Biden’s laptop. As Poul Høi does his best to prove that America’s former president was a mere pawn for Putin, more and more evidence is accumulating on a daily basis that the current president’s son was committing serious crimes with the knowledge and support of his father. There is much more evidence to support the premise that Biden has been compromised by his connections to China than there is to support the premise that Trump has been compromised by any connections to Russia—but we haven’t seen a word of it in Berlingske.

See, for example, this article in The Hill, or this article in the New York Post, or this piece from the Wall Street Journal.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story has been staggering in its naked contempt for the norms of an ostensibly free and open society. It reveals corruption in the press, the Democratic party, big tech, and the intelligence and law enforcement “communities.” Everyone’s hands are dirty—in America. That’s a hell of a story for any foreign correspondent. If I were a young Danish journalist trying to make my bones, you can bet I’d be all over the story of the way in which the American GLOB were so desperate to get rid of Trump that they circled their wagons to foist an enfeebled and visibly deteriorating candidate upon the nation—in the midst of a global pandemic, in a period of widespread civil unrest, and in the face of menacing advances by militant powers hostile to democracy.

The reason that American Democrats and their allies are so desperate to prove Caligula-level despotism on the part of Trump, and to cast his supporters as a gullible fifth column, is that they need all that to be true to justify their own grotesque manipulation of American political and cultural norms to oust him.

That’s the story. It has the virtue of being simple and explaining everything, especially the things that make no sense otherwise. (For example: why would more than fifty career intelligence and law enforcement professionals deliberately mislead the public right on the brink of a presidential election? There’s no question they misled us, and no question they did so knowingly, but the establishment media have shown zero interest in explaining why.)

For Berlingske to feature Poul Høi’s fairyland fever dream as political analysis is disgraceful enough in and of itself: to do so while strenuously avoiding any mention of the damning findings emanating from that laptop invites serious questions about Berlingske’s editorial judgment, at least with respect to its coverage of American affairs.

Consider the logic of Høi’s concluding paragraphs, which come right after his smearing of Tucker Carlson as a Putin apologist:

In such language and such a world, Putin is not a threat, and the feeling of a threat is precisely crucial for the voters’ choice, says the British political scientist Sam Freedman.

It no longer makes sense to view politics as right versus left, he says, but rather as threats versus non-threats.

If voters perceive an issue as a threat, they react.

A majority of British voters are in favor of both a tougher course on criminals and a tougher fight on the climate because they feel that crime and climate change are both threats, Freedman writes.

Likewise with Putin.

If voters see him as a threat, they respond. Conversely, if they see a normalized Putin, they do not react when Salvini, Berlusconi, Le Pen, Trump, or the FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria) sell themselves to Putin and vice versa.

They also go easy on Rudy Giuliani, Patrick Byrne, and Mike Flynn. It means nothing in their circles that all three of them have links to Moscow and called for an American coup.

Because in their circles, threads to Moscow are not a threat and a coup is therefore not necessarily a problem.

And Marija Butina? The sex agent who seduced Byrne and other men on the American far right?

She now sits in the Russian parliament for Vladimir Putin’s party.

This is childishness.

Primary contention: voters only react to an issue when they perceive it as a threat. Secondary contention: voters do not perceive Putin as a threat. Consequence: voters are untroubled by Giuliani, Byrne, and Flynn’s “ties to Moscow” and therefore do not consider a potential coup orchestrated by Russia, through those three men, as a threat.

What is the evidence that conservative voters accept the premise that Høi’s triumvirate were in the tank for Putin? Can someone point me to anyone on the right saying, “Yes, by gumbo, Trump and his top advisers were all in Putin’s pocket, but that’s okay because Putin’s our sort of lad!” What do you have to smoke to even think such a thing?

Here’s an alternative theory: conservative voters in America and elsewhere despise Putin and oppose his invasion of Ukraine but don’t buy into all the manufactured hysteria of the left. Høi says that “it means nothing in (conservative) circles that all three of them have ties to Moscow.” That’s built on the assumption that the three men really were compromised Russian pawns and that conservatives know that to be true.

But even if we go so far as to play along with Høi’s view of things, then why aren’t we concerned about the fact “it means nothing in leftist circles that the current president, his son, and many of their associates have ties to Beijing?”

I mean, if you want to play the “foreign influence is corrupting America” card alongside the “voters only react to threats” card, isn’t Chinese influence over the current administration of much more immediate concern than Russian influence over the former administration? Isn’t voters’ indifference to the latter more troubling than their indifference to the former?

Or is the past somehow more important than the present, or the future?

At some point journalism needs to come back to reality. We’re still in a pandemic, there’s a massive land war playing out on European soil, our supply lines are hopelessly tangled, we’re facing a very serious energy crisis, and inflation is making all of us poorer every day.

And a Dane is about to win the Tour de France.

So there’s plenty of interesting stuff out there to write about, all of which is a whole hell of a lot more relevant to the average Dane than what a shrieking, America-hating left-wing extremist has concluded about American voters’ sinister indifference to the feverish hysterics of the Democratic Party.

I’ve wasted too much time on this myself but I had to get it out of my system.

Now I can finish the job by taking a Super Bock into the pool…

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