by Conrad Black
As the national political media have conducted practically the entire Democratic presidential election campaign, the credibility of the media is entirely implicated in the election result. In the latest revelations about the financial activities of the Biden family while presidential candidate Joe Biden was the vice president, the national political media and the principal social media companies have sandbagged another large media company, News Corporation’s New York Post, and have tried to impose online silence on the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
The media either had to suppress the story to maintain support for their candidate and continue to make his campaign for him, or give normal attention to such a well-attested story and probably sink his candidacy—effectively their joint candidacy. If they had chosen the second course of action and treated Biden as they would have treated Trump or any previous presidential candidate mired in such allegations, the Biden candidacy almost certainly would be doomed. In going full metal jacket to ignore the story and to maintain Biden in their candidate protection program, the major media and the executives behind them are putting the credibility and ultimately the value of their franchises on the line.
If Biden is elected, his premeditated lie that he had never discussed his son’s business dealings in Ukraine or other foreign countries will be evident and undeniable, but not significant. There will be no further legal proceedings and while a couple of Senate committees may continue to poke the question, even that will stop if the Democrats emerge from the election with the majority of the Senate. Similarly, the Durham special counsel investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russian collusion allegations, which has been inexcusably prolonged, will also undoubtedly be swept under the carpet no matter what Durham’s findings are. Even though it is now clear that the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, knew when she was circulating the Steele dossier that its chief source was a Russian government agent, these facts appear not to matter.
Similarly, while there is a bipartisan consensus about some aspects of the unhealthy influence social media has on public opinion formation in the United States, if Biden wins, the post-electoral examination of the role of social media will be comparatively gentle. That is the least the Democrats could do for these immensely influential executives who have carried water on both shoulders for their unfeasible candidate.
But if Trump wins, the Biden financial activities will be investigated. It appears to be uncontested public knowledge that the Biden family received from various foreign sources $9.84 million in the time that Joe Biden was vice president; he seems to have monetized the second-highest public office in the United States. The Bidens deserve the benefit of the doubt in criminal questions, but they could not possibly be serene about the likely outcome of a serious examination of this apparently rather sordid financial history. John Durham presumably will get to the bottom of the origins of the shameful Trump Russian collusion fraud. There is little doubt that somebody committed serious offenses in launching and sustaining the complete fiction of the Trump-Russian collusion story. And the social media barons, with a Trump victory, will be in for a rough sleigh ride.
The extreme uniform and vociferous bias of almost all of the national media is not only remarkable in itself, especially as compounded by the social media attempts to stifle opposing viewpoints, even from the White House. The virulence of that electoral partisanship is also extraordinary. There were widespread suggestions in 1964 that the Republican candidate, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, in upholding the concept of states’ rights, was effectively endorsing indefinite racial segregation, and that by his provocative and bellicose attitude to the communist powers, he was a menace to world peace. I have my doubts if he would’ve been a successful president but he was hideously caricatured and vilified.
In the current circumstances, the only grievance leveled against President Trump apart from mindless, disenthralled Trump-hate and the incitement of the view that he is somehow morally inadequate to his office, are generally unjust complaints about his COVID management. The Biden campaign is just nasty name-calling. In the first debate, Biden called him “a clown, a liar, and a racist.” In the 2016 campaign, President Obama claimed that Trump was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan.
Veteran CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl, in the interview that the Trump campaign released to the public unedited almost a week earlier, claimed there was no evidence the Trump campaign had been spied upon by its enemies in 2016 even though that fact has been verified by the inspector general of the Justice Department. Jon Meacham, the man who plowed Newsweek magazine into the ground and has made himself the house historian of the Bush family, declared after the second debate that Trump was illustrative of “the privileged white lizard mentality” of many Americans. This is not the reflection of a respectable historian. Of course, criticism, even harsh criticism of this president is fair comment. But there is no excuse for the hateful and barbarous vilification of him as a person that is now almost the whole campaign against and media coverage of him.
Unfortunately, The Atlantic’s summary of this president last week, consistent with the integrity of its coverage throughout the Trump era, is only slightly more rabidly irrational than the national media generally on this subject. It comes from Jeffrey Goldberg, the source of the infamous falsehood that Trump referred to American war dead as “losers and suckers.” He wrote last week:
Donald Trump is the worst president this country has seen since Andrew Johnson or perhaps James Buchanan, or perhaps ever. Trump has brought our country low; has divided our people; he has pitted race against race; he has corrupted our democracy; he has shown contempt for American ideals; he has made cruelty a sacrament; has provided comfort to propagators of hate; he has abandoned America’s allies; he has aligned himself with dictators; he has encouraged terrorism and mob violence; he has undermined the agencies and departments of government; he has despoiled the environment; he has opposed free speech; he has lied frenetically and evangelized for conspiracists; he has stolen children from their parents; he has made himself an advocate of a hostile foreign power; and he has failed to protect America from a ravaging virus . . . Through his avarice and ignorance and negligence and titanic incompetence, he has allowed tens of thousands of Americans to suffer and die, many alone, all needlessly. With each passing day his presidency reaps more death.
In fact, the worst American presidents since James Buchanan were George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Donald Trump has had the best first term of any president in American history except Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon. If Donald Trump is reelected (as he deserves to be), Joe Biden will return to an evidently comfortable retirement. But the media responsible for resurrecting Biden and Kamala Harris from the pre-convention ash heap and trying to elect them with the most egregious smear job in the history of the democratic world will have to answer for what they have done to the vital craft of journalism.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada.
Photo “Biden Media” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.