You cannot hope But, seeing what
to bribe or twist, the man will do
thank God! the unbribed, there’s
British journalist. no occasion to.
— Humbert Wolfe
THERE are a couple of trade secrets about the foreign correspondent racket of which news consumers should be aware, the first being that much of what appears beneath distant datelines is gleaned straight from the TV news and folded-to-the-story newspapers propped beside the keyboard. The other is news judgement — news filtering, to be more accurate — which so often shapes the dispatches that land on editors’ desks and from there to readers’ screens and, less often these days, the printed page. Following this past week’s New Hampshire’s primaries, the coverage of Donald Trump’s latest victory has seen both and more of the same.
From the ABC it was ‘Trump’s New Hampshire victory left him frustrated‘ while the Nine rags went with ‘Haley urged these voters to move from Trump. They refused‘. One might wonder at the discordance — denied his ends by one headline’s account, achieving them by another — but let that pass. Neither report, when you dive into each, can be faulted on the facts presented, for both include all the basic info about Trump being the first to win three New Hampshire primaries, that independent voters preferred underdog Nikki Haley, and how the next GOP battle will be in South Carolina. The ABC’s account, unconstrained by the space limits of a printed page, tells you more and at greater length than that of the Age and Sydney Morning Herald, but where they also share common ground is what isn’t included, nor has been, in these latest or earlier reports. Trump’s 11 per cent winning margin is “all the more astonishing”, marvelled the Nine rags’ Farrah Tomazin, given that “he did so despite facing 91 criminal charges.” The ABC’s
And there you have it, the filtering that denies readers an explanation why, as Ms Macmillan put it, those three federal and one state prosecutions
Are American voters so deeply in Trump’s thrall that justice’s accusatory finger means nothing to them? It must be just another example, the casual reader is left to surmise, of a weird nation cursed with legions of redneck “deplorables”, as Hillary Clinton dismissed all who, not surprisingly, subsequently declined to vote for her — the “bitter” rump, as Barack Obama appraised it, which persists in “clinging to guns or religion”.
Well there is an explanation and it’s really quite simple, one that would make an interesting stand-alone backgrounder and require very little effort to report. Why, even the laziest US-based Australian correspondent could manage it by rewriting reports of the Trump-focused two-tiered justice system that have been appearing quite regularly, albeit with requisite and prominent denials from prosecutors and editorialists, in mainstream organs of the establishment Left such as The New York Times and Washington Post . No need whatsoever for lefty journos to go picking through distasteful links at libertarian and conservative sites such as PowerLine, the Epoch Times, PJ Media, or the invaluable Instapundit. What a simple task it would be to do a little cut-and-paste with a touch of rewriting here and there to avoid any accusation of plagiarism. But that just doesn’t happen.
Dip into the news archives at the Nine papers and the ABC and search for the words “Fani Willis”, the subject of a recent Essential Reading post. What you will find and won’t find make the case for reportorial indolence and/or a blind eye for facts and developments that ruffle the Trump-is-a-monster narrative. Briefly, Ms Willis is the Georgia DA who appointed her boyfriend, a lawyer whose experience has been limited largely to small claims court, as the highly paid special prosecutor seeking to nail Trump and 18 fellow defendants for electoral interference in 2020. Several of those charged have since copped pleas rather than face the expense of a trial, but Trump, as always, has pushed back, charging corruption and selective prosecutions driven by brazen electoral politics. You can read all about the charges that led to his now famous police mug shot in the ABC’s news archives and those of the Nine comics.
What you won’t find is any story after last September that mentions Willis, her secret swain, or the growing doubts she will be permitted to continue with the case. Some Trumpists are even daring to hope that the scandal will scuttle the entire prosecution, which testifies to the sunny optimism of those who believe a victory in November can make make America great again. Far more likely is that the matter will be transferred to the jurisdiction of an adjoining Georgia county, where other Democrat district attorneys stand ready to hound the likely GOP presidential candidate.
Americans, quite a few of them in any case, are also aware that Fani Willis’ lover, Nathan Wade, visited Washington late in 2022 for a no longer secret briefing session with members and staffers of the Democrat-dominated January 6 committee, also meeting with White House lawyers, at least one of whom is said to have flown to Georgia for further consultations The fact that the subsequent timing of charges being laid matched major dates on the political calendar is, if you believe Democrats, the sheerest coincidence.
But wait, there’s more. Grand juries are supposed to be leak-proof and the panel members anonymous, with all evidence, witnesses and testimony to remain behind closed doors. Well that didn’t happen in Georgia, where the grand jury foreman — a “bizarre young woman”, as Trump described her — gave a series of interviews that saw her drop broad hints Trump was about to be indicted. The clip below confirms Trump wasn’t engaging in hyperbole.
And the other cases? Well. in New York, Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul ran for and achieved office on the strength of a pledge, her words, to “get Trump”. In thoroughly blue NYC, where 92 per cent of Manhattanites voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, that was red meat for the faithful. The absurd prosecution on charges of defrauding lenders, who insist they weren’t defrauded, followed — again being launched and scheduled at the most inopportune moments for a candidate seeking national office.
Oh, and don’t forget Hunter Biden. The Internal Revenue Service is perhaps the most feared of all federal agencies, empowered to kick in doors, seize bank accounts, cars, homes and anything else of value without attending to the preliminaries of establishing guilt or convictions. Yet the rogue First Son copped such an easy deal after dodging $1.4 million in taxes that a judge it had been anticipated would rubber-stamp the plea agreement rejected it out of hand. One law for the Bidens, another for Trump.
That the oft-mentioned “91 criminal charges” haven’t scuttled Trump is because Americans know all this. Australia’s correspondents in North America must surely know it too. They just never get around to reporting it. Why might that be, do you think?