The coverage is everywhere.
So are the hot takes.
I have no coverage to offer and I don’t do hot takes.
A New York grand jury indicted Donald Trump yesterday and the indictment is sealed. That means we don’t know what he’s been charged with. We’re told that Trump’s attorneys have been in communication with the DA’s office about the logistics of next week’s arraignment.
Those are the facts. It’s what we know.
But the indictment of a former president who’s also a current candidate obviously has a political dimension, and politics begins where facts leave off.
Hence all the hysterical coverage and hot takes, all of it entirely political. You like “fact-based journalism?” Sit this one out, at least until there are more facts on the table.
I’d like to sit it out myself, except a couple of things caught my eye—one American thing and one Danish thing.
The American thing is just the latest in a long string of embarassments from the American gerontocracy. Here’s a screenshot on the off chance that the original tweet gets memory-holed:
I first saw it on Instapundit this morning on my train ride to work. I assumed it was bogus. Nancy Pelosi is (or was) a shrewd and knowledgeable politician. She knows that “proving your innocence” is a total inversion of nearly eight centuries of Anglo-American jurisprudence. The presumption of innocence is one of the pillars of western civilization: you’re innocent until proven guilty.
I had a busy day it work but was listening to Hugh Hewitt in the background. At one point some rando caller phoned in and mentioned Pelosi’s tweet.
Hewitt himself refused to believe it for more or less the same reasons I just described. He told his caller he’d been hoodwinked, that there was no way the former Speaker of the House could have said such a thing. Either the caller had misunderstood or he’d been duped by a fake.
One of Hewitt’s producers eventually chased the citation down and verified its authenticity, and Hewitt went off. As he should have. As everyone should have. No one has the “right” to prove their innocence because no one needs to prove their innocence. It’s your birthright. (I’m talking about the western legal tradition here, not theology.)
Everyone’s innocent until they’re proven guilty, and nobody would want to live in any society where they were assumed guilty unless they could prove their innocence.
As awful as Pelosi’s hot take may have been, however, please note the metrics: her statement got 26,000 likes.
That’s scary stuff and it needs to be circulated far and wide to help people understand just how off the rails the American left has gone. This wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a rounding error or an infelicitous wording. Pelosi knows how American jurisprudence works and she deliberately and callously misrepresented it for political purposes.
Either that or she’s lost her grip so completely she needs to join Diane Feinstein and John Fetterman in the organic garden of Democratic vegetables.
So that was the American thing that caught my eye.
The Danish thing that caught my eye was, as usual, something Berlingske Tidende’s ace U.S. correspondent Mikkel Danielsen wrote in his own “analysis” of the case. (Which is offered as hard news, not opinion.)
Danielsen’s entire bit of journalisming deserves a thorough going-over, but I’ve done that enough. I can’t bring myself to shoot any more of the fish in that particular barrel. So I’ll ignore all the other crimes against journalism and jump straight to the money quote.
(One language note: the Danish expression “go where the pepper grows” means to get lost, go away, remove yourself. It’s gentler than “go to hell” but a lot stronger than “get out of the way.”)
3. Republicans are rallying around him
A pattern we have seen for seven years is now repeating itself:
Large parts of the Republican establishment actually want Trump to go where the pepper grows. But when he gets in trouble, they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to push him away and distance themselves. On the contrary.
The Republican leader in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, tweeted on Thursday evening—before he had even read the indictment—that the prosecutor in New York has now done “irreparable damage” to the country and “weaponized our sacred justice system against Donald Trump.”
He also could have just said “no comment.” Let the court take its course.
The Republican leaders still fear Trump’s wrath—so almost the entire party surrounds him and reinforces his martyrdom.
It’s true that a lot of the Republican establishment would like to see Trump go where the pepper grows. Plenty of Republicans surely wish even warmer destinations for him.
That’s one thing.
It’s also true that Democrats have been so utterly ham-handed in their incessant attacks on Trump that Republicans are compelled to rally around him not out of loyalty but out of contempt for the Democrats’ tactics. I’m no fan of Donald Trump at this point—I’d very much like him to drop out of the race and throw his support behind Ron DeSantis or anyone else who might actually win the 2024 election—but I’m less troubled by him, and see him as less of an actual threat, than the endless grotesqueries perpetrated by the Democrats so determined to bring him down.
You don’t have to feel the same way to understand how people could feel that way.
Danielsen’s doing what amounts to a dirty a trick, not much different than saying, “This guy’s a racist and he voted for Trump, therfefore everyone who votes for Trump is a racist.” It assigns motive to all based on the motive of one—or pure fancy. Danielsen can’t imagine anyone defending Trump or opposing Democrats on principle, so he assumes it’s all about personality, or whatever informs his own politics.
But that’s not the worst thing Danielsen does in that passage. That would be the part where he tells us what the Speaker of the House could have said.
Which is a perfectly acceptable point to make in an opinion piece, but as I’ve already mentioned this is supposed to be hard news analysis.
Certainly McCarthy could have waited for more information before making his point, but McCarthy is a political operator in a political environment so he was making a political point. Stunner!
McCarthy’s tweet was posted just a couple of hours before Pelosi’s, but the indictment was still sealed (and is still sealed as I write this), so the former Speaker obviously hadn’t read the indictment either. (That’s probably beside the point, insofar as Danielsen doesn’t even mention the former Speaker’s tweet, but that only brings us back to the question of “cherry-picking” items to include in a story.)
Never mind all that, though. Danielsen actually tells his readers what the Speaker of the House could have said. I’ve been reading Danielsen’s execrable coverage of American politics for years now, and sharing a lot of that experience with you, and I have never once seen him suggest things that Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, or any other Democrat “could have said.”
And wasn’t it Nancy Pelosi herself that famously said of the million-page Obamacare bill that “we have to pass the bill so that you can, uh, find out what is in it?” (Answer: Why, yes. Yes she did.) Well, good lord, if you can actually push a bill through Congress without bothering to read it, or share what’s in it with the American people, why the hell not sound off on a legal case before you’ve read the indictment?
A lot of people could be saying “no comment” right now. (A lot of them probably should.)
People could be saying any number of things.
So what? Why even bring it up? If your point is that Republicans are rallying around Trump, why not just say so? Quote McCarthy to prove your point and move on. We don’t need hypotheticals tossed into the mix.
Think of what Mikkel Danielsen could have written!
Wake me up when it’s over…