It’s commonly believed that on September 26—more than three weeks ago—the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged.
Three weeks isn’t a lot of time in most circumstances, but in warfare it’s an eternity: time enough to fight the whole Six Day War three times and take a long weekend. New Yorkers woke up to a beautiful but otherwise normal late-summer morning on September 11, 2001: twenty-three days later an allied coalition was bombing Afghanistan.
If the Nord Stream pipelines were sabotaged it wasn’t an act of war—the pipelines weren’t operational and the damage occurred in international waters—but it was obviously war-related. Or “war-adjacent,” as the cool kids say.
That’s about all anyone can say for certain at this point. In terms of who did it and why, the general public is no wiser today than it was in the immediate aftermath (when I wrote this and this, both of which seem to be holding up pretty well).
Actually we’re a little wiser. A smidge. As the BBC reported yesterday:
Video shot by a Norwegian robotics company, published by Swedish newspaper Expressen, appears to show the massive tear in the Nord Stream 1 pipe.
Danish police believe “powerful explosions” blew four holes in the pipe and its newer twin, Nord Stream 2.
It is still unknown who or what caused the blasts amid suspicions of sabotage.
Video embedded in the article shows—technically I should write “purports to show”—undersea video footage of a shattered pipeline’s twisted metal.
German, Danish, and Swedish authorities have all been investigating the incident but Swedish prosecutors reportedly rejected a joint investigation out of fears of sharing sensitive information related to national security.
It’s almost as if western authorities are trying to conceal the identity of the saboteur, if it’s known, or to prevent its ever becoming known.
That’s also odd.
But actually, you guys, it’s totally not odd, so if you think it is then you’re just a conspiracy nut and Putin supporter.
Fox News host involves Denmark in gas leak theory: “How obvious can the lies get?”
Anne Baungaard, Berlingske.dk, October 18
I don’t know why this article was written or published.
It rehashes a bunch of old information and acknowledges in its concluding sentence that “no country has announced who is behind it or who is under suspicion.”
It’s pegged to a one-minute clip from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and also embeds an older video (itself embedded within a Mikkel Danielsen tweet). In both segments, Carlson—identified by Baugaard with the prefix “controversial,” which is never attached to leftist commentators because leftism is never controversial—is questioning where responsibility for the apparent sabotage truly lies.
(The Mikkel Danielsen tweet, says “Over at Tucker Carlson there’s no doubt that the USA blew up the pipelines.” That’s a lie—Carlson has expressed nothing but doubts about the whole episode. Why is Mikkel Danielsen smearing Tucker Carlson? Is he so stupid that he can’t understand what Carlson is actually saying, or so malevolent that he’s doing it on purpose? Or is he stupid and malevolent? Before you answer, remember that Mikkel Danielsen is a journalist, working as the US correspondent for a Danish newspaper, while Carlson is the host of an opinion program.)
Because we still don’t know whodunnit—and I still believe we never will—no speculation ought to be considered out of bounds. For all we know it was the Taliban, or Al Qaeda, or Canadian truckers, or the Proud Boys. Maybe it was those nasty fascists that just took over Italy, or Chinese communists, or Greta Thunberg. Maybe it was the Ghost of Christmas Past.
But not everything’s discussable.
He has previously speculated whether it was in fact the USA behind the sabotage in the Baltic Sea.
Now the controversial American talk show host Tucker Carlson includes Denmark in his accusations.
In his show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on American Fox News, he refers to the investigation into the gas leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which Denmark participated in carrying out.
The Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, said in the days after the leaks that Danish, Swedish, and German police should cooperate on an investigation that would dig into the process.
On Friday, German Der Spiegel then wrote that Sweden had dropped the plans. This was apparently because, for security reasons, the Swedes will not share the results of their investigations with other countries.
“We’ve looked into this thing that everyone in the world wants an answer to, and we’ve found some findings, but we’re not going to share them because security.”
Baungaard then downplays the fact that Joe Biden is on the record as having said that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the Nord Stream pipeline would be ended. (“We’ll end it,” he said.)
She cites a “Danish military researcher” who has said Biden’s words must be understood in a completely different context, without specifying what context would make an American President’s very obvious and very public threat irrelevant to the fact of its having been carried out by someone. She makes a grand point of his actually having three whole reason why it’s unlikely America was behind the sabotage… but all three of his reasons are every bit as speculative and hypothetical as anything Carlson says. Obviously. Because we’re all still operating from a position of near-total ignorance.
Baugaard doesn’t have the balls to say the one thing that might actually be contextually relevant, which is that Joe Biden is a confused old man who says a lot of things that aren’t true and have to be unsaid by his staff.
“Joe Biden and (US Deputy Secretary of State) Toria Nuland promised to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines if Putin invaded Ukraine. Then—in possibly related news—both pipelines were sabotaged, destroyed last month,” says Carlson.
The chryon below him reads: “The world needs answers about the Nord Stream explosions.”
“The investigation has been completed, but we must not be told anything about its results. Although they keep saying that Russia did it,” he goes on.
“Why are they protecting Russia? Is it really because Russia didn’t do it? I mean, how blatant can the lies get?’
What this article does is very simple: it says, hey, look, there’s this opinion commentator in America who’s sharing unapproved opinions.
Yes, he mentioned Denmark, and it’s always very exciting when a high-profile American mentions Denmark, but he’s not even saying anything about our little country: he mentions that the Swedish government chose to include NATO allies Denmark and Germany in the investigation. That’s it.
Let’s revisit the headline: “Fox News host involved Denmark in gas leak theory.”
That’s false. First, Carlson isn’t promoting any particular theory, he’s simply exploring our governments’ odd behavior with respect to the sabotage of these pipelines.
Secondly, if he were promoting a theory, it would be a theory about the pipeline sabotage, not about a “gas leak.”
Thirdly, Carlson didn’t “involve” Denmark in anything at all. He mentions it only once, in the context I’ve already described. Denmark never comes up again.
Berlingske’s publication of this article is much stranger, from the standpoint of journalism, than anything Tucker Carlson has said from the standpoint of commentary.
But only if you believe it’s the role of journalism to present facts.
If you believe that the role of journalism is the gatekeeping of ideas and opinions then it all makes perfect sense.
And it makes you a conspiracy theorist.
Featured image: noted fictional conspiracy theorist Hercule Poirot, as played to perfection by David Suchet.
Basically, anytime a Danish journalist mentions Tucker Carlson, your starting assumption should be that whatever Carlson is alleged to have said, he didn’t actually say, and whatever opinion or conclusion he is supposed to have made he didn’t actually put forward.
That way, you will save a lot of time.
Anecdotally, every time I have bothered to actually watch the Carlson segments covered, the claims made in the Danish media do not hold water. Which is not to say that they have never correctly cited something Carlson said. It is entirely possible that they have, since I have not gone through and checked every single instance ever made. Only that in the cases where I found myself thinking, “hmm, that doesn’t sound like Tucker Carlson”, and subsequently went checking, it was always a bunch of malarkey.
But Tucker is just the new Rush Limbaugh. If you take the opportunity to go directly to the source (spend a few hours listening to Rush when he was alive, or watch a couple of Carlson segments in their entirety,as opposed to selective small Youtube clips), you will quickly get a sense of each person, what their style is, what their attitudes are and how they generally like to frame things. This sense will give you a very good baseline for quickly determining if what is being alleged appears to be reasonable and in line with what you would expect, or if we are dealing with politically spun opinions or outright falsehoods.
It is impossible to do your own research on everything, but just being somewhat familiar with what people like Tucker Carlson usually say, is a very good investment of time.
I think there’s a generalized assumption (or hope) in the establishment media generally that all their readers, viewers, and listeners are blank-slate idiots who know only what they’re being told at that particular moment in time, and will believe whatever they’re told. That’s a topic for another day, but looking at it more narrowly in this particular case, the phenomenon is the source of a lot of my rage at Danish media for their misrepresentations of America.
Their Kretzes and Danielsens and Høis and Steinmetzes and “America Experts” approach each article (or television segment) as if the audience knew absolutely nothing at all about America and had no way at all of learning anything about it through any other source… including their own previous reporting.
Call it “goldfish journalism:” reporting that assumes your readers know nothing about anything at all and will even forget everything you’re telling them three minutes after they’ve read it.
The sad thing isn’t that goldfish journalism is so prevalent, but that there really do seem to be a lot of goldfish out there.
At the very least a lot of people are ‘functionally’ goldfish, in that they rarely pay much attention to the news, and their outlook is apparently formed by some mix of superficial consumption of headline news ( which they reflexively trust because that is the default position and also coincidentally requires the least effort on their side) and the kind of opinion osmosis whereby you adopt the views of everyone around you in your social circles.
The uniformity of the media message combine with the opinion osmosis to form a formidable wall of opinion that is almost impregnable to attack. It is only when the divergence from observable reality becomes too apparent that it crumbles.
Certainly, you see the effect when trying to understand the foundation of certain views like the unique badness of Orange Man or the so-called climate crisis. These are not really opinions, they are established facts that ‘everyone knows’ despite very few being able to articulate much or even ‘any’ particular data in support of their position, and frequently you are met by annoyance that such a self evident truth should require any defense at all.