Miranda Devine is four months into her American gap year filing columns for the New York Post. But so far, the conservative commentator has failed to command the same influence over an American audience as she does at home.
Devine — known for, among other things, her obsessions with gender identity and the persecution of white farmers in South Africa — has continued to push popular conspiracies and mis-characterisations, only this time with US audiences in mind.
She has tried to discredit Greta Thunberg for taking “literally what irresponsible adults have told her, that the planet is going to end in 11 years…”, and likened the 16-year-old to a “totalitarian dictator”.
She retweeted George Papadopoulos’ suggestions that Alexander Downer was some sort of spy.
And just last week she called The New York Times a “woke citadel of militant secularism”, because it published a column criticising US Attorney-General William Barr’s recent speech that blamed America’s problems on the decline of religious values.
Crikey took a look at how Devine is tailoring her pro-Trump commentary for the Post’s blue-state readership, and whether her columns are making much of a splash in America’s over-saturated market.
Make it Trump, but woke
In moving from Sydney to New York for News Corp, Devine is following the footsteps of Murdoch lieutenant and former Post editor Col Allan, who went from the Daily Telegraph to the Post — recently returning to the latter as a consultant.
Vanity Fair reported Allan’s new role at the New York Post in February this year, which one insider said was to deliver pro-Trump content in a way that didn’t alienate its largely liberal New York readership. Apparently, Allan understood that “if you’re talking to a New York audience, you can’t go full MAGA. You have to be strategic about how you do this. You can’t just be all Fox News”.
Devine’s columns are clearly in-step with Allan’s editorial strategy, borrowing typically progressive rhetoric to defend conservative arguments when it suits.
She responded to Thunberg’s UN speech by accusing “eco-catastrophists” of child abuse for “terrifying children with exaggerated stories about the threat of climate change”, and is a clear fan of first lady Melania Trump.
She criticised the book Melania & Michelle: First Ladies of a New Era for “pitting two women against each other”, but didn’t hesitate to do the exact same thing a few paragraphs later.
“Unlike Hillary Clinton… Melania doesn’t flaunt her influence,” Devine wrote in the September article.
“Michelle Obama was a fine first lady and deserves plaudits for writing a bestselling memoir since. But her school lunch interventions showed she was an elitist nanny-stater at heart. Melania has not committed the same errors of arrogant overreach. She has the humility to understand that she is not the main game.”
Meanwhile, Devine continues to go after Democrat women, particularly Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
The Face of the Climate Armageddon movement is female, fierce and barely pubescent. Come to think of it, even Squad member Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tries to emulate the teenage vibe with her girly voice and rising intonations, something most 29-year-olds have left behind long ago. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has the same sort of girly affectation at the ripe old age of 52.
A shout in the void
Devine’s commentary continues to make more of a splash back home than in the noisy US media landscape.
Pieces attacking Republican Mitt Romney for being too liberal and slamming Elizabeth Warren’s “war on men” have been mostly shared within pro-Trump Facebook groups, like “Deplorables for Donald The Titan Trump”, “Democrat is the new Communist”, as well as “The Silent Majority”, a page with more than 500,000 followers.
Conservative Twitter users — including Australia’s own Lyle Shelton, and former New York police commissioner and author Bernard Kerik — also appear to be fans of her most recent columns.
But one of Devine’s columns didn’t go unnoticed: Media Matters for America and Mediaite accused Devine of racism after she broke free from appeasing her “blue state” audiences and told Fox News that Trump’s nickname for Elizabeth Warren — “Pocahontas” — was a “brilliant” move.
Perhaps, if she continues to go far enough, Devine’s thoughts will attract the kind of outrage in Trump’s America that she gets at home in Australia.