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It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s A Harmless Chinese Spy Ship!



When did journalists stop asking hard questions and become nothing more than a tool for the U.S. government to spread the “official” story?

Oh wait, I remember. It’s when Donald Trump was booted out of office and Democrats took the helm. In every major story, you can ask yourself how journalists would handle it differently if Trump were still president instead of Joe Biden. The answers are self-evident.

Imagine it was Trump in the White House and … the president’s son had a laptop filled with information about secret deals with foreign adversaries. … Or that the administration identified parents at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. … Or that 600,000 migrants who streamed across the border were issued U.S. visas without so much as a citation or a court date. These are just a few of the current stories that so-called professional journalists have no interest in pursuing because a Democrat is in the White House.

But nothing better illustrates the incompetence of the Biden administration and the complete lack of professionalism of the American media than the spy balloon story. The more you learn about the Chinese Communist Party’s balloon excursion across the United States, it is inevitable that you ask, “Who is more incompetent? The U.S. military or the U.S. media?”

We are led to believe that the balloon first crossed U.S. airspace above the Aleutian Islands in Alaska on Saturday, Jan. 28, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, sent up fighter jets to check it out. Instead of shooting it down, the generals decided it was just a harmless balloon that would float above Alaska and … what? Disappear? Explode? Cross the Arctic ice cap and invade our mortal enemy, Russia?

Did the generals forget that there are nine military bases in Alaska, including a Coast Guard Base on Kodiak Island, the key defense facility at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, and the strategically invaluable Clear Air Force Station Base near Fairbanks? Apparently so, and they may have even forgotten that Alaska has been a U.S. territory since 1867 and a state since 1959. Otherwise, how do you explain that our Joint Chiefs of Uselessness had not notified the president, the nominal commander in chief, about the incursion into our airspace?

But even the see-no-evil generals must have been a little apprehensive when the balloon took a sharp right turn and headed toward Canada and then re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho. That was on Tuesday, Jan. 31, when someone who had perhaps read the Constitution decided it was probably time to notify the White House.

From here it gets a little fuzzy. We are told that President Biden immediately ordered the Air Force to shoot down the balloon, but nothing happened. We don’t know if Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, decided to pull rank on Biden and call China with a “heads up” the way he had done with Trump when he reassured the Chinese he would let them know if President Trump sent an attack their way. OK, there’s no evidence that Milley committed treason this time around, but somehow the Chinese balloon avoided a reckoning with the American military anyway.

The official version is that the generals decided not to shoot down the airship, according to Politico, “because we could track the exact path of the balloon and ensure no activities or sensitive unencrypted comms would be conducted in its vicinity.”

Cool. Could they also ensure that there was not an electromagnetic pulse device on board that had the capacity to wipe out electricity across a third of the continent? It would only take three such EMP-equipped balloons working in tandem across the nation to cripple our entire infrastructure and leave us vulnerable to a military attack. Oh well, even if the generals thought of that (unlikely), there is scant evidence that any U.S. journalists broached the topic.

By the next day, Feb. 1, when the Chinese had a birds-eye view of Malmstrom Air Force Base and its 150 intercontinental ballistic missile silos spread out across 13,800 square miles, someone apparently realized it was probably not just a harmless off-course weather balloon, as the Chinese would soon claim. But although air traffic was grounded out of Billings Logan International Airport for two hours and the military scrambled F-22 jets in case they were needed to shoot down the worst national security breach since 9/11, ultimately nothing happened. We were told that the top brass informed the commander-in-chief that it would not be prudent to shoot down the balloon over Montana because of the possibility of land-based casualties.

This is where everybody like me who lives in Montana gets a little chuckle. We’re not called Big Sky Country for nothing. There are thousands of square miles of Montana where you would have a hard time hitting a tree, let alone a human being, if you fell out of the sky. It should also be asked whether the Air Force could have fired a small caliber weapon at the balloon rather than a missile, so that it would leak air slowly as it descended to the ground. When it floated over an opportune empty patch, a thousand feet or less above ground, you could pound it with the big ammo and watch it drop like a lead balloon, which by then it practically would be.

But no, the Joint Chiefs like to do things by the book, and the book apparently says to let the Chinese go on a self-guided tour of some of our best military bases before ending up over the Atlantic Ocean. Now, I’m just speculating, but maybe the Chinese weren’t trying to steal secrets from our military bases; maybe they were just looking for more farmland to purchase in the vicinity of missile and air bases. According to the USDA (via Fox News) the Chinese control approximately 383,000 acres of U.S. farmland, lots of it surprisingly close to military installations. So as absurd as it is, there’s still a possibility the Chinese were just doing the equivalent of a real estate drive-by.

Or you could believe the official story that the spy balloon was no danger and that the Chinese were prevented from gaining any intelligence by the quick-thinking generals sitting on their brass. Under that scenario, the United States outsmarted the Chinese by letting them send their balloon across the entire continent and then shooting it down with a Sidewinder air-to-air missile off the coast of South Carolina, so massive amounts of material were lost in the ocean. That’s the story that the mainstream media agreed to tell. As if the technology doesn’t exist to transmit such data back to the balloon’s home base.

Then, a day later, on Feb. 5, the lackey media were breathlessly reporting that the Chinese had, unbeknownst to anyone, sent three spy balloons into U.S. airspace during the Trump administration. This made about as much sense as the official Democratic Party line that the Russians blew up their own Nord Stream pipelines. If the Chinese had sent balloons over the U.S. border while Donald Trump was in office, isn’t it obvious to everyone – especially Democrats and journalists – that Trump would have enjoyed shooting it out of the sky and then bragging about it?

Since no one believed the new claim, which was categorically denied by every major Trump security official, the story shifted the very next day. Turns out that no one actually knew the three phantom balloons had infiltrated the United States until some months (or was it years?) later, when the Biden administration did a “forensic” analysis and uncovered the evidence, which conveniently suggested that whatever Biden had done wrong, Trump did it first – and worse.

And in a twist that could only be imagined by a third-rate Hollywood screenwriter, the Pentagon announced last Friday that it had shot down an unidentified flying “object” that was approaching Alaska at about 40,000 feet. Not sure if this was a sequel worthy of “Top Gun Maverick,” but I’m certainly anxious to hear how the Pentagon spins it to explain why the completely different approach to a very similar scenario was not entirely a PR-based decision.

So, to summarize, here are some of the questions that the mainstream media should have asked, and didn’t: If we really failed to notice three balloons entering U.S. air space in the Trump administration, who is to blame? Isn’t this a threat to our security since three EMPs could cripple our national infrastructure? Regarding the most recent incursion, why was it considered acceptable to let the balloon traverse above military installations in Alaska? Why was it OK to not tell the commander in chief immediately about a violation of U.S. air space? Did you consider the possibility of an EMP attack? Did we inform our ally Canada when it infiltrated Canadian air space? Why was the U.S. military unable to shoot down the balloon safely in remote parts of Canada or Montana? Why shoot the balloon down over the ocean so that much of the payload disappeared forever into Davy Jones’ locker?

And most importantly, “Why should we believe anything you say?”

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.