Most of us would like to forget many of the unpleasant aspects of our adolescence, and especially our days in middle and high school. No matter what the school setting, private or public, every place had its “cool kids” who ruled over the rest of us, especially in the school cafeteria.
Journalism has its own version of the “cool kids,” those being reporters and writers from larger media outlets such as The New York Times (NYT) or from network news. In the past few years, I have watched journalist David French as he has maneuvered from National Review to his recent new perch as a regular columnist on the op-ed page of the New York Times, a position he has called his “dream job.” Despite the protestations of some NYT staffers and LGBTQIA+ activists over his hiring, French is proving to be a very safe choice for his new employer as he trashes many of his right-of-center former political friends and allies. After many years stumbling in the wilderness of conservative journalism, French finally has been invited to sit with the “cool kids.”
Since taking the NYT position last winter, French has attacked people on the right without letup, and while one can write at length about his newfound alliance with the Left, I will concentrate on a column he wrote for the March 31 NYT entitled: “The Rule of Law Now Depends on Republicans.”
The background of this article was the Trump indictment, something which I wrote places this government in banana republic territory and clearly was done solely for political reasons. While French wrote a column expressing misgivings about the specific charges for which Bragg was pursuing the indictment, he nonetheless refused to say what is patently obvious: this was a political indictment in which New York Democrats were firmly pressing their thumbs on the scales of justice.
Instead of calling the indictment for what it was, a political sham, French gave it a backhanded endorsement:
I…know that we need to wait on both the indictment and the evidence supporting it to make any definitive decision about the merits of the charges. Informed speculation is still merely speculation, and there is a chance that the case is materially different from what we expect.
Regardless of whether the case is as weak as I fear it might be, Trump’s obligations are perfectly clear. Yes, he can certainly publicly dispute the charges. That is his right. But his ultimate path to contesting the district attorney’s claims runs through the courts, not the streets.
The rule of law is in Republican hands now. If they choose the course they took during the election challenge, history will remember them—and not Manhattan’s district attorney—as the instruments of American destruction. Responsible leaders urge peace. Responsible leaders respect the legal process.
Rule of law in Frenchland, however, is a different matter. French refuses to write about the Durham report, in which the special prosecutor made it clear that both the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directly involved themselves in a partisan manner to help swing a presidential election, something that is the antithesis of French’s cherished “rule of law.” James Bovard writes:
Special counsel John Durham exposed Monday how the FBI and Justice Department plotted to rig the 2016 presidential election.
His 316-page report proves federal law enforcement was weaponized by shielding the Hillary Clinton campaign and persecuting the Donald Trump campaign.
Yet despite the damning evidence, most of the media are treating the Durham report as a “nothingburger.”
FBI racketeering repeatedly rescued Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton Foundation raked in hundreds of millions of dollars of squirrely foreign contributions while she was secretary of state and revving up her presidential campaign.
The Durham report found that “senior FBI and Department officials placed restrictions on how [the Clinton Foundation investigation was] handled such that essentially no investigative activities occurred for months leading up to the election.”
On top of that dereliction, “the FBI appears to have made no effort to investigate . . . the Clinton campaign’s purported acceptance of a [illegal] campaign contribution that was made by the FBI’s own long-term [confidential human source] on behalf of Insider-I and, ultimately, Foreign Government.”
Top FBI officials also saved Hillary Clinton by scorning the federal statute book and treating her pervasive, perpetual violations of federal laws on classified documents as a harmless, unintentional error. (bracketed additions by Bovard)
One only can imagine French’s response had Donald Trump’s administration engaged in this kind of behavior. Moreover, with Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice continuing to keep its partisan thumbs on the scale with the draconian and questionable prosecutions for the January 6 Capitol riot, it is clear what is happening to the rule of law. Ryan McMaken writes:
A commonsense foundation for addressing violence in the Capitol building, however, would be to simply prosecute those who engaged in actual violence and trespass. It is clear, however, that gaining convictions for seditious conspiracy has been an important goal for the administration because it furthers the narrative that Donald Trump’s supporters attempted some sort of coup. Unfortunately, these sorts of political prosecutions are just the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from the Justice Department.
Furthermore, revelations from the infamous Hunter Biden laptop case show that the Joe Biden campaign orchestrated a number of present and former members of the CIA to falsely claim that the allegations of Hunter’s lawbreaking were a “classic Russian disinformation” scheme, when in retrospect the claim was itself nothing more than a disinformation effort to help Biden win the 2020 election. One would think that a good government advocate like French would be concerned about attempts by a would-be president to use official US intelligence agencies to lie to the American public about his son’s criminal behavior but guess again.
The cool kids at the NYT and elsewhere in the mainstream media are not interested in anything that might contradict the progressive narrative that Donald Trump is such a danger to the well-being of the entire United States that legal niceties must be set aside. If punishing Trump means that Democratic Party prosecutors must place their thumbs on the scales of justice, so be it. That position also is a classic violation of the “rule of law” principles that David French claims to hold so dear but quickly abandons when the name Donald Trump appears.
French loves to present himself as the überprincipled classical liberal that is undeterred by political winds. However, to be able to sit with the cool kids, French has regularly portrayed everyone from white evangelicals to people who do not support Drag Queen Story Hour as horrible people who have no place in our social and political orders.
Over time, one of three things will happen. The first is that French ultimately will become a cool kid himself, emulating David Brock, who wrote for the American Spectator only to become a George Soros–funded enforcer of leftist orthodoxy. A second path will take French further down the road of legal and moral compromises, to where he joins the pantheon of former neoconservatives like William Kristol and David Frum, who have become effective voices for the Left, although they still lack “cool kid” membership cards.
The third path is French’s own moral and political awakening, in which he realizes he helped sell out American democracy and rule of law because of his own obsession with Trump and his supporters. That is the most unlikely scenario of all, since the “cool kids” would disapprove and send him away from their lunch table.
This article was originally featured at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is republished with permission.