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Hunter Biden’s laptop: the burying of a scandal

The Week UK logo The Week UK 4/1/2022 The Week Staff
Joe Biden embraces Hunter Biden Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images © Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images Joe Biden embraces Hunter Biden Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Mainstream media accused of only certifying facts which align with own preferred narrative

It had all the makings of a bombshell “October Surprise”, said Gerard Baker in The Wall Street Journal. Just three weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post reported the discovery of a laptop belonging to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in a repair shop in Delaware, which contained “all sorts of embarrassing emails”. They suggested he had been “selling his high-level family connections” while working for a Ukrainian energy firm, possibly even securing a cut for his father.

It should have been a huge story – it could have swung the election – but it died a death after the mainstream press and the tech firms dismissed it as Russian disinformation. It was nothing of the sort. Last week, The New York Times finally conceded the emails were authentic.

In fairness, journalists had every reason to be wary, said Philip Bump in The Washington Post. At the time the Rupert Murdoch-owned Post ran the report, Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had spent months openly digging for “dirt” on Hunter Biden. The Post refused to let other media organisations examine hard drives from the laptop, and no one could explain why the owner of the repair shop had ended up giving the laptop to Giuliani. Given Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the mainstream media understandably responded with suspicion.

Be honest, said Jacob Siegel on Tablet Magazine: this is about partisanship, pure and simple. Over the past five years, the mainstream media have made a show of deferring to a new “cadre of fact-checkers” who supposedly ensure their strict objectivity. Yet when push comes to shove, they’re only interested in certifying facts that align with their own preferred narrative.

People were far too eager to dismiss this story, agreed Ben Weingarten in Newsweek. More than 50 former intelligence officials signed a letter publicly stating their belief that it bore “all the classic hallmarks of a Russian information operation”. They’ve shown no remorse for their misleading intervention.

As for The New York Times, the only reason it has come clean now is that it has become impossible to report on the federal investigation into Hunter Biden – which could lead to him facing charges for violating foreign lobbying and money-laundering laws – without mentioning the laptop. This is a truly shocking case, and the mainstream media must face a “reckoning”.

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