The media's Hunter Biden debacle
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Eagerly deploying newsroom resources to the perpetually overblown Hunter Biden story — just as Trump and Fox News kick off a new smear campaign — CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post gladly did the GOP’s bidding this week. Signing off on the idea that the Hunter Biden story remains a scandal simply because Republicans say so, the press has adopted a Whitewater-like obsession with the perpetual dead-end story.
One White House reporter from CBS News, doing his best Fox News impression, asked if President Joe Biden would take the extraordinary step of pardoning Hunter — who is not accused of any crime.
Producing remarkably similar articles that were published nearly simultaneously this week, the CNN.com, Journal, and Post efforts all swung and missed. On paper, there’s no reason why they would pick the exact same moment to churn out nearly 7,000 words of Biden reporting. Especially since none of the investigations dug up any startling revelations about his business dealings from the previous decade.
The copycat nature of the reports raises questions about who the unnamed sources for these stories were, and if there was a coordinated effort by Republican operatives to push simultaneous Hunter updates.
It’s also telling that the hand-delivered leaks arrived the same time we’re learning even more about the Trump White House’s criminality. Specifically, the administration’s clear lawbreaking surrounding the January 6th coup attempt.
This was the big ah-ha moment from the Post piece: “The new documents illustrate the ways in which his family profited from relationships built over Joe Biden’s decades in public service.”
The press can’t provide an answer to the “and” — they can’t find anything illegal or shocking — so they pretend that the business deals themselves are newsworthy and that Hunter’s career requires years of media digging. Meanwhile, the recent revelation about a Supreme Court Justice’s wife strategizing with the Trump White House to overturn an election has evaporated from most newsrooms in less than one week.
After years of media focus there’s nothing to suggest Joe Biden was involved in his son’s business dealings or profited from them in any way, or that the senior Biden ever did anything remotely unethical in connection with Hunter’s career. The son has never run for office, never served in the government, never lobbied to change U.S. policy, and never acted as an advisor to his father in any way.
The fact is, he remains under investigation for matters related to tax payments and his foreign work, and there is a chance he could be indicted. Although, as the New York Times recently reported, Biden recently paid off “a significant tax liability,” which “could make it harder for prosecutors to win a conviction or a long sentence for tax-related offenses.”
It’s a relatively small stakes tax case that has produced a ridiculous amount of breathless Beltway coverage, much to the delight of the GOP. Context: 11 Trump associates who worked directly with the president have been indicted on criminal charges.
The press relentlessly pursues the Hunter story because they insist there’s the appearance of conflict of interest given the family connections. But Hunter began making overseas energy deals just as his father was leaving office in 2016 after eight years serving with President Barack Obama. If Hunter wanted to cash in on his father’s vice presidency, why did he wait until the end of his father’s vice presidency?
Still, the media fixation continues.
Look at the Post’s headline, “Inside Hunter Biden’s Multimillion-Dollar Deals With a Chinese Energy Company.” Why the assumption that there’s a need to delve “inside”? There’s no reason why a private citizen’s deals with a Chinese energy company should be considered newsworthy five years after the fact. It’s a detailed Post article about a short-lived business venture Biden had between 2017 and 2018 — what’s the point?
The paper makes no attempt to explain why any of this is important, and why the paper assigned three reporters to produce an exhaustive overview. The same was true of the media’s two-year obsession over Hillary Clinton’s emails. My guess is the Hunter enterprise is to show the Post, and the rest of the press, can be ‘tough on Democrats,’ and to perpetuate a poisonous brand of Both Sides journalism.
If the paper were honest with readers, it would tell them it spent a ton of time researching Hunter Biden’s dealings — because unhinged Republicans claim the “Deep State” is behind it all — and could not find anything newsworthy. But that’s not how the Beltway press treats Democrats (see: Whitewater), so the Post did its best to justify the GOP-sponsored fishing expedition. The article included a baffling, multi-paragraph examination of a dispute Hunter once had with an office building landlord, complete with angry emails about duplicate keys being made.
Other tell-tale signs of a journalism flop were sprinkled throughout the three articles. Buried deep down, they often included awkward concessions:
• “The Post did not find evidence that Joe Biden personally benefited from or knew details about the transactions”
• “Hunter Biden has not been charged with any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing. His father, President Joe Biden is not being investigated as part of the probe of his son’s business activities,” (CNN)
• “The progress prosecutors have made doesn’t mean they will ultimately bring charges.” (Journal)
“I’m so glad our colleagues are still doing strong reporting on this story,” New York Times columnist Gail Collins cheered last week. “Hunter Biden’s scummy business dealings shouldn’t be swept under the rug any more than anyone else’s.”
Swept under the rug? Good grief. Since 2017, “Hunter Biden” has appeared in more than 800 articles and columns published by the Times, according to Nexis.
The media’s Hunter Biden charade is becoming preposterous.
(Photo: Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
📺 GOOD STUFF:
CBS News’ hiring of a former Trump lackey just keeps getting worse for the network.
From the Washington Post’s “Turmoil at CBS News Over Trump aide Mick Mulvaney’s Punditry Gig”:
“If you look at some of the people that we’ve been hiring on a contributor basis, being able to make sure that we are getting access to both sides of the aisle is a priority because we know the Republicans are going to take over, most likely, in the midterms,” CBS News’s co-president Neeraj Khemlani told the staff of the network’s morning show, according to a recording of his comments obtained by The Washington Post. “A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are helping us in terms of access to that side of the equation.”
🇨🇦 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Arcade Fire, “The Lighting I, II ”
The pride of Montreal, Arcade Fire and their cast of communal band members return with their energetic stew of rock. The new album sounds like a welcome return to the band’s boisterous roots.
From Pitchfork’s praise: “There’s a sense that after Arcade Fire steered away from shout-choruses and earnest sing-a-longs—those musty relics of aughts indie rock—they’ve found their way back home, sounding fearless and genuine once again.”
Fourth place anthem playing tonight
On a broken radio
Thought we reached the mountaintop
But now we just feel so low
The sky is breaking open, we keep hoping
In the distance, we'll see a glow
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'Til the black sky turns back to indigo
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