Europe: In for a Rude Awakening

Will European media have to rethink its U.S. coverage?

Lars Hedegaard is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Mogens Lykketoft, Denmark’s former Foreign Minister, sometime President of the U.N. General Assembly and a Social Democrat, is a good man to listen to, if one wants to gauge Europe’s reaction to the recent American elections. In the Copenhagen daily, Berlingske, he writes this scathing comment: “For the USA as well as for most of the world it will be an enormous relief to be rid of this shameless narcissistic liar.” He is of course referring to President Trump.

The antipathy against Donald Trump is spread across the political spectrum. Even the foreign policy spokesman of the hard-right Danish People’s Party, Søren Espersen, expressed his hope that Hillary Clinton would win in 2016.

The point about the lying president is widely shared by media all over Western Europe. They seem to have forgotten that for four years they bought into every baseless accusation leveled at the President: the Russia Hoax, claims that he wanted to undermine NATO, his supposed hatred of non-whites and women, his wish to destroy the planet and whatnot.

For over four years, Radio Denmark, the state-owned radio and television outlet, has been pumping out anti-Trump propaganda as has Denmark’s other major TV-channel, TV2. For months on end they peddled the Russia collusion narrative and when that imploded, they quickly dropped the matter and went on to COVID-19, for which they blamed Trump, hardly mentioning that the President has limited possibilities of intervening. And, of course, they had little to say about the mayhem caused by violent Trump haters. Even after the Democrats had been forced to abandon the Russia Hoax, Denmark’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen from the center-right Liberals, kept talking of murky conspiracies involving the President.

Given this avalanche of Trump-hating propaganda, it is no wonder that the vast majority of Danes think Trump is an evil man out to ravage the world. To balance the picture, Danes and other Europeans have had to resort to alternative online media, of which there are fortunately many. But how can citizen journalists with limited resources and no pay compete with the daily stream of uniformly hostile stories about Trump and the Republican Party? Fortunately, most Danes understand English and have access to American media that have tried to give a fair account of recent American politics. The truth is marching, albeit slowly. 

The leading article in the daily Politiken (Nov. 7), often considered Denmark’s paper of record, carries the headline: ”The President of Lies”. It doesn’t specify what he is supposed to have lied about. This left-leaning paper just knows that he is a liar – an opinion widely shared by most Danish and European mainstream media. Trump is evil, so who needs evidence? And now he has the audacity to challenge the election because he believes there has been widespread voter fraud. Politiken is livid: ”That he is willing to sink to the depths as to actively do harm to his own country in order to serve his own purposes, is shocking. Trump’s probably only term in office will end precisely where it started. In dishonor.”

Other leading European papers, such as Die Weit and Le Monde, are agreed that there is no evidence of voter fraud. One wonders how they can be so sure before the matter has been thoroughly investigated and the American courts have spoken. But it is payback time for the chattering classes who abhor Donald Trump’s populist style fearing that their own hegemony over public opinion might be in jeopardy.

And it is not only the media. On Facebook a Danish grandmother tells how her three grandchildren aged 7 and 14 have been indoctrinated in the public, taxpayer-funded schools to believe that Trump is a monster. She asks: “How normal is it for a 7-year old to be talking about how ugly and evil a politician in a foreign country is? This is sick.”

Dreams of revenge creep in. Die Zeit muses that perhaps Trump will be dragged in front of a court and punished for his heinous deeds.

It is easy to understand the glee of European journalists. For four years they have had a soft job. All they needed was to repeat what they had heard on CNN or read in the New York Times and take the rest of the day off. No wonder that 90% of Danes hate the President for all the mainstream media have told them is that he is a villain.

On the assumption that Joe Biden has indeed won the presidency, the Danish and many other European media face a challenge. How to explain that half of the Americans voted for Trump? Why wasn’t there a blue wave? Why did the Republicans – probably – keep the Senate and make inroads on the Democratic majority in the House? Worst of all: Why did some 26% of the minorities vote for a man whom the media had described as a racist and a champion of white supremacy?

Most European media will probably abstain from tackling these questions. But now they are up against another hurdle. Up until now they have presented American politics as a battle between good (the Democrats) and evil (Trump). What will their angle be after evil has been vanquished? Perhaps daily praise of the wondrous achievements of the Biden-Harris administration. In other words the North Korean option with round the clock adulation of the beloved leader. One wonders if that would attract much interest when the election fever has abated.

There are signs that a part of the European media have realized that the press cannot survive on propaganda alone and perhaps a growing sense that their readers may demand more, such as reports on what is going on in the USA. And there is much to report from Biden land. Dominic Green writing in The Spectator (London) notes that hardly had the Democrats claimed victory before their bliss fizzled: “Within hours of Biden claiming victory, the Democratic left was trading Twitter snark with the centrists. The fanaticism and fellow-traveling of the wokist horde is one reason why this election was so close. It is also crucial to the Democrats’ failure to flip the Senate and, it appears, to grow their lead in the House.” It is also unlikely that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can carry on with her planned witch hunt against anybody associated with the Trump campaign without it being noted in Europe – which has, after all, intimate knowledge of witch hunts and their consequences.

There are even signs that some journalists would prefer a balanced perspective on Trump and his supporters. Ole Nyeng, writing in the Danish weekly Weekendavisen (Nov. 6), quotes Henry Olsen, senior researcher at the Washington think tank Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributor to the Washington Post. Olsen opines that if Trump had only carried out his policies instead of splitting the country, he would no doubt have gotten four more years. “Most Americans”, notes Olsen, “wish for what Trump delivers.” And what about COVID? “Trump might have handled it better and faster but remember that in the USA the struggle against COVID lies first and foremost in the hands of the States. It is not like in Denmark, where Prime Minister Frederiksen only needs to tell you what to do.”

Henry Olsen further notes that the Democrats bear a big part of the responsibility for the political clashes over the past four years. “They have insisted on treating Trump like a person he is not. He is not a racist, he is not a dictator, he is an unpolished person but he gets things done.”

This is hardly news to half of America but hitherto unheard of in Europe.

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