Hunter Biden News Should Shame Dismissive Media Outlets
By Mark Hemingway
December 16, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - "RealClear" - Hunter Biden announced Wednesday he is under federal investigation for his financial dealings in foreign countries, including China. While the news sent shockwaves through Washington, D.C., it shouldn’t have been surprising. The announcement confirms many of the allegations of corruption that were leveled against Hunter Biden in the months leading up to the November elections – allegations the media steadfastly refused to cover.
The nation’s largest social media companies went further: They made the shocking decision to actively censor the New York Post’s eye-opening scoop revealing evidence of Joe Biden’s son’s influence peddling that was recovered from an abandoned laptop. Twitter locked the newspaper out of its own account for weeks. Facebook prevented the Post’s story from being widely distributed, even though neither Joe Biden nor his campaign disputed the authenticity of the documents published by the paper.
In retrospect, not only do the documents appear to be authentic, but a Daily Beast report Thursday notes evidence that the Hunter Biden investigation was hiding in plain sight. One of the FBI documents from the laptop published by the Post “included a case number that had the code associated with an ongoing federal money laundering investigation in Delaware, according to several law enforcement officials who reviewed the document. Another document — one with a grand jury subpoena number — appeared to show the initials of two assistant U.S. attorneys linked to the Wilmington, Delaware, office.” Hunter Biden claims he only learned of the investigation this past week, but these documents suggest otherwise.
Even a cursory inquiry by the New York Post’s competitors would have confirmed that Biden was under federal investigation. One journalist did behave like a reporter. In late October, Sinclair Broadcast Group correspondent James Rosen reported that Hunter Biden was under active investigation and a Justice Department official confirmed his scoop. Almost without exception, America’s press corps refused to follow up on Rosen’s revelation — or even report it.
It’s bad enough that the allegations were ignored, but the media response to the story was far worse. Without making any meaningful attempts to independently verify any of the details, they immediately asserted that Hunter Biden’s laptop was part of a “Russian disinformation” campaign.
Natasha Bertrand, a Politico reporter known among Trump supporters for her credulous reporting on the Steele dossier, wrote a piece headlined “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.” The New York Times reported, “Trump Said to Be Warned That Giuliani Was Conveying Russian Disinformation” and, further, that Trump “shrugged off” the warning about his aide, who was involved in bringing the laptop story to light.
Both stories appeared on Oct. 15, the day after the Post’s bombshell report. In the broader media, the default explanation for the laptop became – once again – a Vladimir Putin-backed conspiracy. By contrast, the idea that an erratic Hunter Biden, who once left a crack pipe and his dead brother’s state attorney general badge in a rental car, forgot to pick up his laptop at a computer repair shop a short distance from his house was deemed far-fetched.
Even setting aside the charges specifically connected to the laptop, what was known about Hunter’s foreign dealings was damning enough that the media should have demanded Joe and Hunter answer a slew of pointed questions. Instead, there was only one puffy, televised ABC News interview with Hunter Biden that also aired, probably not coincidentally, on Oct. 15, perfectly timed to rebut the Post.
When asked about his controversial job serving on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, Biden’s response to ABC vacillated between self-serving and dishonest. “There’s been a lot of misinformation about me. … Bottom line is that I know that I was completely qualified to be on the board to head up the corporate governance and transparency committee on the board,” he said.
The assertion, absurd on its face, went largely unchallenged by ABC. Biden didn’t speak the language of the country where Burisma is headquartered, had no experience in the oil and gas sector, and had never served on the board of a for-profit company. Moreover, getting paid a million dollars a year to serve on a corporate board is unheard of. Corporate watchdogs have noted that his post was rife with conflicts that would have violated federal securities law if Burisma was a U.S. company. He got the job weeks after it was announced his father was overseeing America’s Ukraine policy from the White House.
Instead, Hunter was allowed by ABC to present himself as the victim. “I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That's where I made the mistake," Biden told the credulous network. "So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever."
ABC also whiffed on the China question. Biden told ABC News he hadn’t personally profited from a $1.5 billion deal with Chinese interests brokered by his investment firm, an implausible denial for which he presented no evidence. ABC did not ask him about an email in the New York Post report purportedly showing that Ye Jianming, chairman of the CEFC China Energy Co. conglomerate, was paying Hunter Biden $10 million for “introductions alone.”
A recent Senate report reviewed by Fox News seems to confirm these troubling allegations. “Hunter Biden had business associations with Ye Jianming, Gongwen Dong and other Chinese nationals linked to the Communist government and the People’s Liberation Army,” the report says. “Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in cash flow.”
Nor did ABC News ask Hunter Biden about receiving a 2.8 carat diamond worth $80,000 that a shadowy Chinese tycoon delivered to his hotel room. Neither Joe nor Hunter were asked about this during the campaign, even though Hunter admitted to taking the diamond in the pages of the New Yorker magazine last year. This suspicious gift is now reportedly part of the FBI probe.
In fairness, some skepticism of an October surprise being foisted on the public by a right-leaning tabloid and Rudy Giuliani, who’s no stranger to getting out over his skis in defense of Trump, would have been warranted.
But some media figures so quickly descended into condescending arrogance that some apologies appear in order, given what we now know. The managing editor of taxpayer-funded NPR declared it a “waste of time” to report on the Hunter Biden allegations. The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum assured us, “Those who live outside the Fox News bubble and intend to remain there do not, of course, need to learn any of this stuff [about Hunter Biden].”
However, many of the key allegations in the New York Post report weren’t just about Hunter. They raised questions about whether Joe Biden was a participant in his son’s foreign wheeling and dealing. Nonetheless, Applebaum’s Atlantic colleague David Frum went even further. “The people on the far right and far left that publicized the obviously bogus [New York Post] story were not dupes. They were accomplices. The story could not have been more fake if it had been wearing dollar-store spectacles and attached plastic mustache,” he wrote.
Unfortunately for Frum, the question of who was acting as an “accomplice” is now a bigger issue than ever. “According to Biden campaign metrics, online chatter about the Hunter Biden story during the election’s last week was greater than it was around Hillary’s emails during last month of ’16,” observed the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein last month. “The difference: it never spilled over into mainstream outlets.”
Given that Biden’s Electoral College victory was even narrower than Trump’s in 2016 – about 40,000 votes spread across three narrowly won states – Stein’s observation that the media suppression of the Hunter Biden story may have helped Joe Biden win now looks like a troubling indictment. A chilling media precedent has been set to not just discredit, but actively censor legitimate reporting on political corruption weeks before an election.
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