State-Sponsored Misinformation


The Danish government is willfully misleading the citizens of Denmark about America.  So are most of the privately owned Danish news media, but privately owned companies are entitled to be as biased as they want.

Steffen Kretz is the U.S. correspondent for the taxpayer-funded, state-controlled media Danmarks Radio (DR).  I’ve chronicled his bias, misperceptions, misrepresentations, and lies for years.  See, for example, here, here, here, and here.  As the official interpreter of American affairs for the only government news outfit in Denmark, Kretz ought to be the most objective and unbiased of all American “analysts” in Denmark.

Instead he’s the worst.

In the last of the Kretz-critical posts linked to above, I articulated the source of my frustration with his work:

Most Danish coverage of America is execrable partisan slop, but that doesn’t mean the journalists behind it are all execrable partisans… except for those who are.

Ace correspondent Steffen Kretz is one such creature, and he stands head and shoulders above the rest of his crowded field.

He wouldn’t be if his title at DR were “Chief US Democratic Party Propagandist,” or “Cheerleader for American Leftism,” but it’s not. His job is to explain American goings-on to the Danish public, and we pay his salary for that service.

He has failed us, over and over and over again, with a persistence that would be comical if it wasn’t so infuriating. I don’t dispute for a minute that his observations would be considered penetrating by a great swathe of the American public: the problem is that it’s not his job to describe America as it’s viewed by the American left, nor as it’s viewed by the American right, but as it is.

Can you imagine an American journalist assigned to cover Denmark, funded by American taxpayers for the effort, whose reporting amounted to recycled press releases from one political party? What if everything Americans were told about Denmark was filtered through the press office of Enhedslisten, or Nye Borgerlige? The problem isn’t which side Kretz has taken, it’s that he’s taken one.

To be clear: I don’t object to Steffen Kretz being a leftist, or a moron, or even a leftist moron. If DR ran his pieces in their opinion section, they’d be entirely unobjectionable. (And I wouldn’t feel compelled to read them.)

But they don’t. And if my Danish taxes are going to fund coverage of America that’s as wildly partisan as the leftist swill barfed up by the insufferable Kretz, then I feel an obligation as an American citizen to address it. Not to argue with his opinions, but to highlight them as such.

That was in response in Kretz’s execrable “analysis” of Joe Biden’s first few weeks as president.  It’s a long post and addresses Kretz’s various crimes against journalism, reason, and sanity in deep detail. The other examples I linked to—chosen more or less randomly from among dozens—are also very specific and almost scholarly in the precision and detail with which the execrable Kretz’s lies are examined and dissected.

And to be clear, while much of what he writes about America is merely colored by bias, a great deal of it is simply untrue.

So although it’s tempting to say that Steffen Kretz has outdone himself today, he’s done no such thing.  Same old Kretz, same old bullshit.

And as usual, DR News gives his pernicious take on things pride of place, front and center on their home page:

“ANALYSIS,” the headline says in English, “Much more than Trump’s liberty is at stake in court case.”

That much is certainly true.

Click through to the article itself, and the subhead says, “The court case in Miami against the former president will test the strength of democracy, and the result isn’t a given.”

That’s also true, although it misses the point.  From the conservative (and apparently much of the independent) point of view, the prosecution itself is evidence that American democracy is already in trouble.

Here’s how he opens:

Americans are sharply divided into two camps over Friday’s historic indictment .

They are divided in a way that signals that this case is not just about Trump’s guilt or innocence — it will also be a litmus test of how strong the American justice system is.

Americans are indeed sharply divided, but “this case” is not a litmus test of the American justice system. That’s a willful misreading of the nature of the divide. Americans aren’t split on whether Trump is guilty or innocent: they’re split on whether or not he’s being prosecuted for a crime or for politics.

It’s not a litmus test, but a Rorschach test: “Tell me what you see when you look at this picture. Do you see blind justice being served, or do you see a banana republic?”

Kretz helpfully offers his own description of each side of the divide:

On one side are the Ministry of Justice and the US government, who, in the words of prosecutor Jack Smith, want to ensure that the law is equal for everyone—that is, that even a former president must be held accountable if he violates the country’s laws.

Got that?

One side of this big American divide consists of people who believe that no one is above the law. That’s why Trump is being prosecuted for espionage and obstruction on the basis of his having kept confidential documents locked up in his home instead of returning them to the National Archives (or securing them in his Corvette). That’s also why James Comey prosecuted the shit out of Hillary Clinton for having exposed confidential documents to hostile foreign governments through the illegal use of a private email server, and for then literally destroying all the evidence to cover up the crime. Remember that? This passion for not letting anyone be above the law is also why Attorney General Merrick Garland just launched that whole huge investigation into credible allegations that Joe Biden accepted a multi-million dollar bribe from a Ukrainian energy company to get it out from under a corruption investigation—and why that photographic evidence of Hunter Biden smoking crack with prostitutes and having committed felonious perjury on his application for a gun license landed his ass in jail.

Surely you saw all those stories?

On the other side are Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party, who are very directly working to undermine Americans’ trust in the justice system, and who dismiss any accusation as politically motivated and dismiss it as a witch hunt, no matter how well documented. In that world, Trump should not be held accountable because all charges against him are “political.”

See how that works? One side, the good side, just wants to ensure that no one is above the law: the other side is trying to sabotage the American justice system. One side is motivated by justice and truth; the other by a ruthless and fanatical contempt for the rule of law.

That’s the balanced way in which Steffen Kretz is helping Danes understand the two sides.

In that way, much more is at stake for America than just Trump’s future. If prosecutor Jack Smith and his people do not succeed in convincing a large majority of Americans that the rule of law lives and that the strength of the evidence alone will decide the upcoming trial, then the United States will face a dark and dangerous time.

And that’s where you can stop reading.

Kretz is telling you that if this prosecution can’t convince Americans that they’re not acting politically, then America drops into the abyss.

It doesn’t matter whether or not the prosecution is political, whether the underlying crime is real, whether anyone else could or would have been prosecuted for similar behavior—the actual questions on which American democracy is in fact now teetering—it only matters whether Americans can be persuaded that this isn’t a political prosecution.

So by Kretz’s logic, even if this is a purely political prosecution, that’s okay as long as the American people can be persuaded that it’s not. It’s not reality that matters: it’s perception. And yet he’s unwilling to accurately and dispassionately present the perceptions of one side of the divide.

Is the dress black and blue or white and gold? Good Americans know it’s white and gold, but some wretched bastards are willing to violate the public trust by undermining belief in its white-and-goldness, insisting against all evidence that it’s black and blue.”

Kretz then pivots to the riotous protests of January 6 (which at the time he himself called an attempted coup), and ominously notes: “There are no guarantees that something like this won’t happen again.”

He goes over the evidence of Trump’s mishandling of documents—on the presumption that every document in every box in every photograph is a matter of vital national security—while somehow neglecting to mention that thousands of emails, every one of which (by Kretz’s fast and loose assessment of things) was surely also a matter of vital national security, were exposed to the world on an internet server by Hillary Clinton, which is why she, too, had to be indicted and prosecuted and will be spending the rest of her life in prison.

Why do you think he left that part out? It’s a mystery.

No, wait, I just remembered: it’s because it didn’t happen. In his official statement, then-Director of the FBI James Comey noted (my emphasis):

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.

How many “hostile actors” had access to the documents in Mar-a-Lago, I wonder? Were Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un or Xi Jianping making secret visits to Florida to look them over? How would you assess that possibility?

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.

That bit about “especially regarding intent” is something he apparently made up on the spot. It’s clearly not actually a thing, because the law is the law and nobody’s above it and ignorance of the law is no excuse. Right?

In any case, there you have it: that was James Comey telling the world, back in July 2016, that Jack Smith is not today a “reasonable prosecutor.”

Maybe you disagree. After all, Comey did say that “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”

Hillary Clinton was a Democrat and the heir-apparent to the Obama presidency at whose pleasure Comey served, and it just so happens that it would have been unreasonable to prosecute her even though her stupid, careless, lawless actions had exposed confidential communications to hostile foreign actors.

Let’s concede that Trump was every bit as stupid, careless, and lawless as Clinton. The first Comey citation above makes it clear that the consequences of Clinton’s actions were nevertheless more significant than those of Trump’s, probably by an order or two of magnitude.

Can Steffen Kretz not understand that you cannot take No One Is Above The Law! as your mantra when prosecuting one presidential candidate for a crime that was waved off entirely for another, even when the consequences of the other’s were plainly worse for national security?

Can he not see the cognitive dissonance engendered by these circumstances?

Of course not, because he’s a political hack more interested in promoting American leftism (his mission) than explaining America to Danes (the job for which we Danes pay his salary).

Trump has a method that he has used time and time again when he has been sued. Trump drags out a case by constantly letting his lawyers object and make all sorts of demands to the judge. If he does the same here, the court case about the documents risks not being decided before the presidential election in 2024—and even if he were to be convicted before the election, he can appeal, and that appeal cannot, by all accounts, be completed before the election.

Ah, yes, the patented Trump method: he “lets” his lawyers object and “make all sorts of demands.” The bastard! Why won’t he ever just plead guilty, roll over, and die, like a normal defendant?

It’s almost as though Kretz, the great defender of American democracy and rule of law, doesn’t understand that every American defendant gets to have his or her legal defense issue objections and make demands, because No One is Denied Due Process!

Never mind all that, let’s just jump to his thrilling conclusion:

Americans see their own political system as corrupted by money from billionaires and big corporations. Seven out of ten say in another survey that the country’s richest control the political and economic system and ensure that they themselves win while everyone else loses.

That resignation and cynicism was the background to Trump’s path to the White House in 2016. He put words to the anger and frustration, and in his four years as president he further fueled the fire by attacking the institutions of democracy.

The big question now is whether Trump has succeeded in weakening trust in the rule of law so much that this trial will strengthen his populist messages and bring him back to power—or whether the United States and a majority of Americans choose another way forward.

A road where everyone is truly equal before the law.

Those are my emphases.

I highlighted the first one because I’d like to know which “institutions of democracy” Trump attacked. It’s a hell of a thing to say, so it ought to be backed up. I know it’s a popular talking point on the American left, and Kretz seems to blithely assume that Danes have heard them all and swallowed them whole. Shouldn’t he spell them out? Which insitutions did he attack, and how?

I’m just wishcasting there, obviously. No one on the left ever needs to justify any kind of hysterical hyperoble when it comes to Trump. He’s Hitler, he’s Stalin, he’s Lex Luthor, and everyone knows it, so that’s that. For god’s sake, he wanted people to inject themselves with bleach!

The second bit I highlighted is more important. Has Trump succeeded in weakening trust in the rule of law? Not at all.

But Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi have done a bang-up job of it. Adam Schiff can also take a bow. Jerry Nadler, too. They’re the ones that used the power of the state to perpetuate a false narrative against a political adversary. Trump didn’t do that: they did. You want me to back that up? This whole fucking blog backs that up, op. cit.

Call me a right-wing nutter, if you want. Fine. But roughly half of America sees things as I do, and Steffen Kretz is writing all of us off as enemies of democracy and rule of law when that’s exactly the opposite of our grievance. We see this prosecution not as democracy in action, but the worst sort of banana republic political persecution. If you think we’re wrong, fair enough: make your own arguments. But do not misrepresent our views and then attack us for holding your broken, twisted version of them.

In explaining to his Danish readers the “strong division” this case has provoked in America, he needs to help them understand what each side believes, and why.

Instead, he describes what the left says it believes—and what the left says the right believes.

Because he’s an execrable political hack doing execrable political hackery in defense of the most corrupt American administration of the modern era.

And we’re compelled by law to pay him for it.