The headlines aren’t splashy.
DanmarksRadio (DR): Biden after find of secret papers: “I don’t know what’s in them.”
Berlingske (using Ritzau): Find of secret papers at previous office surprises Biden
TV2 News (using Ritzau): Find of secret papers at previous office surprises Biden
Politiken (using Ritzau): Secret Papers from Biden’s time as vice-president found in office
He was surprised by the find. He doesn’t know what’s in the papers. He’s cooperating fully.
The orginal Ritzau news service copy used by three of the five Danish major outlets includes this helpful observation:
According to CBS News the documents don’t contain information about nuclear secrets.
Fascinating. As late as September, CBS News was reporting—falsely—that, according to the Washington Post (one hand scratches another), “material on a foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities was among the classified documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.”
That was three weeks after the news of the raid first broke. And news of the raid broke the day of the raid.
In Biden’s case, news of the “found documents” broke two months after their discovery, and within 24 hours of that CBS could assert that no “nuclear documents” were among them.
Funny how all that works.
DR’s article includes a helpful little section entitled “The Difference Between Biden’s and Trumps Cases,” in case any of their readers were fool enough to believe that they were at all alike. They credit the section to Niels Bjerre-Poulsen, one of Denmark’s leading “America experts.”
The two reasons given by Bjerre-Poulsen basically amount to “Biden and his people say this was no big deal and we trust them on that, while on the other hand we all know Trump’s case was a big deal because Biden and his people say it was.”
And yet there’s one genuine difference I haven’t seen any of the Danish or American news media make, and it’s a pretty big one.
Vice presidents don’t have the right to classify and declassify documents at will. Only presidents have that superpower.
President Trump could look at a document on his desk in the Oval Office and say, “Behold, I declassify thee.” And it would be declassified.
Vice President Biden could have looked at a document on his desk and said, “Behold, I declassify thee”—it’s easy to imagine—but the document would remain classified.
That’s because—and I realize this is a very intricate and complicated bit of Constitutional law, much too esoteric for the layman—vice presidents aren’t presidents.
Trump has claimed to have declassified all the documents he had down at Mar-A-Lago. Did he? Who knows. But if we apply the same standards to Trump that we apply to Biden and simply believe whatever he says, then we have to assume he did.
The Danish media also seem untroubled by the weirdest part of Biden’s remarks about the papers: the part where he says he was told by his lawyers not to ask what was in the papers.
“I don’t know what was in ’em and my lawyers told me not to ask” is a weird answer to any question about any documents. I heard Hugh Hewitt on the radio this morning: he said this was basically Joe Biden pre-emptively taking the fifth.
(For non-Americans, “taking the fifth” is shorthand for taking advantage of the fifth amendment’s provision that a citizen cannot be compelled to testify against himself.)
If I were to ask one of my kids whether she ate the last bagel and she said, “I don’t think so but my lawyers have advised me not to look too deeply into the question,” I don’t think I’d be satisfied with the answer. I think it would be likely to increase rather than assuage my suspicions.
And then there’s the whole hypocrisy angle:
During an interview on “60 Minutes” from September, Biden was asked about the viral photograph of top secret documents spread across the floor by the FBI following the raid of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.
“When you saw the photograph of the top secret documents laid out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself looking at that image?” CBS’ Scott Pelley asked.
“How that could possibly happen, how one anyone could be that irresponsible,” Biden responded. “And I thought what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods. By that, I mean, names of people helped or et cetera.”
“And it’s just totally irresponsible,” Biden added.
That was from Fox News. The Danish media address the hypocrisy angle merely by observing that Republicans (including Trump) are angered by the double-standard. In fact, in Ritzau’s first story on these documents, the only commentary from the right is a citation from Trump himself—as the last paragraph of the article:
“When will the FBI search Joe Biden’s many houses, maybe even the White House? These documents were definitely not declassified,” Trump wrote on his social media, Truth Social, on Monday evening.
The best defense Biden has offered so far, besides total ignorance (which is after all his strong suit), is according to Ritzau:
“People know that I take classified documents and classified information seriously,” Biden says.
See how easy?
What people know that, and how do they know it?
Isn’t that a question a journalist ought to ask, or an omission that a journalist not at the scene ought to address for his or her readers?
The same people that thought it appropriate for a former president’s private home to be raided over something like this, and who felt free to speculate wildly over what might have been in the documents (remember the tantalizing gossip about the documents maybe having dirt on Emmanuel Macron’s love life?), are contorting themselves into knots trying to assure us that this is totally different you guys because oh my god so many reasons and LOOK A SQUIRREL.
Either holding onto classified documents when you’re not supposed to, or neglecting to return them, is (in Biden’s memorable phrase) “a big fuckin’ deal,” or it’s a nothing-burger.
It can’t be both. It can’t be a variable whose value is determined by the political party of the offending official.
And yet it is, and not only don’t the Danish media report on the American media‘s hypocrisy in treating the stories so differently: they themselves are guilty of it as well.
Why do Danish journalists find it so important not to report on American news for their Danish readers and viewers, but to merely relay biased American media coverage of American news?
Did Danish journalists parrot stories from Pravda when covering the Soviet Union?
They’re harder on their own prime minister than they are on the American president. Why?
Is it laziness? Naivete? The fraternal bond of leftist ideology? Fear?
What purpose does it serve to feed the Danish population the same childish narrative (Biden and Democrats good, all Republicans bad) that the establishment American media have been shoving down Americans’ throats? It’s actually fascinating how polarized the American media have become: CNN and Fox are basically reporting two different realities that are diverging more every day: why? What’s wrong with American media, or America itself, that people can no longer even agree on what’s going on? That’s a great story that Danish journalists could, and should, dig into.
Instead they just pass along one side of things, leaving their readers, listeners, and viewers unaware that there is another side.