Recent reports on Hunter Biden from outlets that previously dismissed or downplayed his 2020 reports are the latest chapter of the debate about mainstream media credibility. CNN’s headline, “Federal investigation into Hunter Biden heats-up,” was published on March 30. The New York Times reported that Hunter Biden paid tax bill, but broad federal investigation continues. The Washington Post reported that Hunter Biden had multimillion-dollar deals made with a Chinese energy firm.
The laptop that Hunter Biden used to hack into his computer was the subject of all three stories. It was first reported by the New York Post with just a month before the 2020 election. It was widely dismissed by mainstream media and television stations as unreliable, even Russian disinformation. In an amazing display of coordination, Twitter, Facebook and Twitter blocked or limited the sharing of the New York Post article about Biden. Twitter even locked out the New York Post for several weeks.
The contents of the laptop were found a year and a half later. They are part reporting on “the ways his family profited over Joe Bidens decades in public service” as well as how “his professional life intersects with his father’s public services,” according to the New York Times.
It’s quite a distance from 2020, when a Washington Post columnist called Biden’s laptop story “laughably pathetic” and reporters at the paper noted that “intelligence experts” believed it was part of an “carefully planned information operations.” MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson stated that it was “so clearly a Russian operation,” while CNN’s Brian Stelter suggested that the emails could have been “made up” and that the story was simply the right-wing media machine in action. Lesley Stahl, host of “60 Minutes,” told Trump in 2020 that the laptop could not be “verified.” NPR stated that it would not “waste its time on stories that aren’t really stories.”
Jeffrey McCall, DePauw University professor, said to Fox News Digital that news outlets acting as public surrogates owe it the citizenry to investigate the story thoroughly. “This story is not only about Hunter Biden but also about wider possible influence peddling.”
The New York Post was not impressed with the new reporting. Its editorial board said that “reality forced them to” the most recent stories in the influential newspaper. The Washington Post’s assertion that there was no evidence President Biden received millions of dollars from a Chinese energy company to his son was particularly offensive.
The board stated that “The Times and WaPo are still trying to suppress much of this story, even though they admit (begrudgingly and indirectly, and with nary an apology to those who broke it all 18 month ago) that the laptop existed all along.” The most charitable explanation is that they fear for the country if Kamala Harris is elected president. However, the Times continues to find plenty of news unfit for print and DC’s Post keeps many facts in darkness.
In October 2020, the New York Post reported on a 2015 email sent by a Ukrainian energy executive, Hunter Biden. It thanked him for introducing him and said that the laptop’s hard drive contained the information. Joe Biden was vice president at the time. His son, then a highly paid member of Burisma’s board, a Ukrainian energy company, raised concerns about his father’s influence-peddling.
Biden is currently under investigation for tax affairs and business dealings. Biden’s salacious photos and videos were also found on the hard drive.
Major news outlets were skeptical about the contents of the laptop’s hard disk, partly because Rudy Giuliani, Trump attorney, gave it to the New York Post. Politico published a letter from several intelligence experts supporting Joe Biden’s candidacy, in which they claimed, without any evidence, that the letter was likely to be a Russian disinformation operation. This claim is often repeated on MSNBC and CNN.
Conservatives and media critics have slammed the double standard. Some outlets claim they were denied the opportunity to report on the laptop.
Tim Graham, conservative Media Research Center, wrote that there was no obvious gossip about why Hunter’s laptop would be accepted by the Post and New York Times. He said they had heard from the Justice Department and don’t want it to appear ridiculous if federal charges were lobbed against Hunter Biden. “But maybe, just perhaps, these papers should grant the New York Post some respect in reporting reality in real-time,” Graham of the conservative Media Research Center wrote.
The Washington Post’s left-leaning editorial Board admitted that it was rewriting its story on Biden’s son after the fact. It wondered, “Why is confirmation only now of a story first published in the fall 2020?”
“Lessons learned from 2016 were to not allow questionable material to be buried in the heat of a campaign. “There’s also the danger of suppressing accurate or relevant stories,” wrote the Washington Post board.
It defended the “reluctance” of platforms and publications to discuss the Biden material in 2020, despite being “unwitting instruments of a Russian influence Campaign in 2016”.