Facts Are Sacred

December 29, 2020 Updated: January 1, 2021

Commentary

In a representative democracy, public opinion is important. In ensuring that the public is informed, the media continues to play a crucial role.

It is assumed that the media, at least the responsible media, will always seek to inform the people on all relevant matters in such a democracy. As the London Times declared as long ago as 1851, “The first duty of the press is to obtain the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation.”

A corollary of this traditional view is that while the responsible media are entitled to their views, their readers, listeners, and viewers must be able to distinguish between fact and comment.

“Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”

Nevertheless, over the last four years, the American mainstream media have conducted a campaign centred on what is successively claimed to be the facts concerning President Donald Trump. The most concerning were about his alleged collusion with Russia. Notwithstanding unlawfully obtained electronic warrants and the long and expensive Muller inquiry, not a skerrick of evidence has been produced to support this. But the media have neither apologised nor corrected their reports.

What is the situation in other democratic countries? Australia is probably typical. Most journalists reporting into Australia from the United States have followed the approach of the U.S. mainstream media, demonstrating a complete lack of the curiosity in trying to ascertain the truth, which is the hallmark of normal journalists.

Apart the Australian edition of The Epoch Times, there is a prominent exception, The Sydney Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine who has been working with the New York Post. This newspaper was prepared to report, before the election, on the unchallenged emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop concerning the role of the Biden family in the provision of access and influence to foreign oligarchs, including Communist Chinese, to the heart of the U.S. administration. As a result, the newspaper’s Twitter account was suspended. The report was even widely dismissed as Russian disinformation. But with the election results in, some U.S. mainstream media have shown some interest in reporting on official inquiries into Hunter Biden’s activities.

Most references in the Australian media to claims of fraud in the U.S. presidential election have been qualified as “baseless” or some similar dismissive word.

This was never done in the many reports about the president, which were unsubstantiated, especially on Russian collusion and later the words claimed the president used in relation to war dead—words not heard by anyone named as present.

The fact is a series of very strong cases alleging fraud have been assembled, verified by reams of affidavits under penalty of perjury, with expert, video, and other evidence. Indeed, the leading lawyer Lucian Lincoln “Lin” Wood Jr. states that in the various cases, there are tens of thousands of such affidavits. It is a breach of fundamental media ethics to dismiss these cases out of hand, even ridiculing them.

That most judges would not even hear these in no way indicates the weakness of each case. Yet many decisions taken by President Trump over his term almost immediately attracted a hearing by some judge somewhere who, notwithstanding the paucity of the apparent jurisdiction, would very often then issue an injunction restraining him.

But as with the Supreme Court’s preference to dismiss the very strong constitutional case brought by Texas and 17 states on a shallow technicality without even hearing argument, the judges will perhaps one day do the people the courtesy of explaining why they have shown such disinterest in hearing claims of significant electoral fraud.

One report claimed that the Supreme Court justices indicated they were afraid of paramilitary violence if the cases alleging fraud were taken up. This has been denied. In the meantime, the former Canadian media mogul and Spectator and Australian Fairfax proprietor, Conrad Black, observes that the fact that the American legal system will not contemplate that the presidential election is tainted is of no account. Well experienced as a victim of its excesses, he dismisses the American legal system as “largely dysfunctional,” milking the nation with what “in any other serious jurisdiction would be considered frivolous and vexatious litigation.”

Whatever the reason, it is curious that the Supreme Court has shown no interest in probably the most important legal and constitutional issue in many years—one which has caused enormous concern to a very large number of Americans as well as many foreign friends of the United States. We may well wonder what the Supreme Court is for, if it is not to examine this question.

As to the U.S. media, there are exceptions to the refusal to consider the question whether electoral fraud was so significant the election was stolen, even to undertake anything approaching an investigation. A young but experienced investigative journalist, Joshua Phillip, has produced a documentary on this, Who’s Stealing America, for The Epoch Times. This is a most thorough and well-ordered investigation of the issues.

In conclusion, this comment is in no way a call on the media to accept the claims of fraud in the U.S. election. Instead, it is a call to the media to exercise their judgement, reporting such claims fairly, responsibly, and professionally.

David Flint is an Emeritus Professor of Law and served as chairman of the Australian Press Council and of the Australian Broadcasting Authority. He convened the successful No Case in the constitutional referendum to remove the Crown from the Australian Constitution.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.