Here’s a riddle: What do Victor Davis Hanson, Dennis Prager and Ricky Gervais have in common?
Hanson published an excellent piece at National Review online on Jan. 7. Titled “The Steele Dossier Bacillus,” Hanson summarizes the evident defects in the substance of the dossier compiled by British former spy Christopher Steele as well as defects in its use to obtain surveillance warrants from the FISA court. Steele was known to be “a pathological liar,” Hanson notes. But the “fanciful” (translation: false) information contained in the dossier spread like wildfire because so many on the left — including Hillary Clinton and her campaign, members of the Obama administration and the national media — wanted to believe the absurd and hysterical allegations contained in it.
Taking his metaphor further, Hanson argues that those who cast their lots with the dossier, among them MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and Clinton, have been discredited — “infected,” if you will, their careers destroyed.
I must disagree. To the contrary, it appears that there are few serious consequences to spreading falsehoods intended to derail a presidential election, deceive a federal court, undermine and destabilize the administration of a duly elected president, or shake public confidence in government. And those consequences that have befallen some of the bad actors are amply compensated for by the other accolades they’ve received. Maddow still hosts her show on MSNBC. Comey may have been fired by Trump but has since written a bestselling book, and that means well-paid appearances on the speakers’ circuit. Brennan and Clapper continue to be regulars on TV news.
As for Clinton, she has never left the public eye nor paid any price for her role in funding the dossier; her manipulation of the Democratic National Committee’s finances or its 2016 nomination process; her deceit about the 2012 attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead; or her lies to the FBI and her destruction of evidence while she was under investigation. She was just named chancellor of Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. Unless we are prepared to argue that academia itself has lost all credibility (I’ll entertain arguments ...), this hardly sounds like someone who is, in Hanson’s words, “in the end-stages of career decline.”
In fact, the only serious consequence Clinton has ever faced is that which 63 million members of the American electorate dealt her on Nov. 8, 2016. And that consequence every instrumentality of the left has been working furiously to undo ever since.
Conservative author Dennis Prager also wrote a compelling essay this week. Prager was accused by Benjamin Fearnow, deputy editor of Newsweek, of ridiculing Anne Frank during an episode of Prager’s radio show. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl whose diary about life under the Nazi occupation has been translated into 70 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. Frank died in a Nazi concentration camp; Prager is an observant Jew. Any assertion that he would ridicule her is absurd on its face. But the transcript of the show Newsweek cites makes its deceit abundantly clear. Prager merely disagreed with Frank’s written belief that “people are basically good,” pointing out her youth and inexperience. (Admittedly, a world that worships angry teen Greta Thunberg does not traffic much in facts or the wisdom that comes with age and experience.) Prager concludes that the honorable thing for Newsweek to do would be to retract the article and issue an apology. But, he notes, “being on the Left means never having to say you’re sorry.”
So where does Ricky Gervais fit in here? He is a successful comedian, actor and producer known also for his vocal atheism, brutal honesty and acerbic wit. As Gervais himself will tell you, he is neither right-wing nor conservative. He does, however, call ’em as he sees ’em. This week, he emceed the Golden Globes for the fifth (and, he insists, last) time, and his opening monologue — which has gone viral on social media — was no exception. Gervais absolutely skewered Hollywood with biting references to pedophilia and friendships with Jeffrey Epstein, complacency about sexual abuse, and rank hypocrisy. You can (and should) read or watch the whole thing online, but here is his closing (and probably most widely recirculated) jab: “So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech, right? You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up; accept your little award; thank your agent and your God; and [expletive] off, OK?”
The looks on the audience members’ faces were priceless: Some laughed nervously; some affected strained smiles; some looked stony and grim.
Did they heed Gervais’ admonition? Of course not. In addition to the usual left-wing political diatribes, we were treated to actress Michelle Williams’ misty-eyed paean to abortion. Celebs drank champagne, ate vegan meals, handed out awards to one another and then went to glitzy parties.
Bestselling book tours. TV shows. Academic appointments. Board seats. Ball gowns and golden awards. Whew. Tough consequences.
In his National Review piece, Victor Davis Hanson concludes that the only antidote to the damage done by the Steele dossier is an admission of the truth. This, he admits, the left finds worse than the infection itself. I submit that the real problem is much larger and more widespread. The infection isn’t the dossier; it is love of falsehood generally. And the left seems to have been immunized against the truth.