Hunter, Joe and Their Pals in the Media
It’s not exactly a bulletin that the role of the press in a free country like ours is to cover the news – not to cover up the news.
But that’s precisely what many journalists did in the final few weeks before the presidential election. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Almost all major mainstream news organizations flat out refused to pursue a blockbuster story published in the New York Post about Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign entities – and whether or not they were above board.
That Hunter was cashing in on his family’s name was fairly obvious. Why else would a gas company in Ukraine pay him at least $50,000 a month for his expertise -- when he had none? But while making money by reminding people that your last name is Biden may not be illegal, it does raise questions. Was Hunter telling his Ukrainian and the Chinese business associates that he would put in a good word for them with his father who one day might become President of the United States? Were they investing big money not in Hunter, but in Joe?
You’d think that would be something curious journalists might want to pursue -- unless, of course, they wanted to put a lid on any news that might hurt Joe Biden. Liberals in and out of the media might say that’s crazy, except it isn’t.
CNN, which used to be a news organization, was especially dismissive of the Post story.
Jeff Zucker, who runs the network, said, “I don’t think we should be repeating unsubstantiated smears just because the right wing media suggests that we should.”
Brian Stelter, who hosts a media show on CNN, said the story was a “manufactured scandal,” that it was “a classic example of the right-wing media machine” -- an obvious shot at Fox News, one of the few TV outlets that gave the story airtime. “They want you to stay mad and stay tuned,” Stelter said.
Jake Tapper said, “the right wing was going crazy” over the story.
Other liberal journalists were just as incurious, blowing off the Hunter Biden story as Russian disinformation, a Russian hoax, part of a Trump smear campaign, a non-scandal story, in essence, they said it was fake news.
Anne Applebaum, who writes for The Atlantic dismissed the story with a snarky, “There’s no ‘there’ there.”
And NPR’s Managing Editor for News, Terence Samuels, without a hint of embarrassment or shame, summed up much of the media’s contempt for the story when he tweeted, “Why haven't you seen any stories from NPR about the NY Post's Hunter Biden story? … We don’t waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”
And it wasn’t only Big Media that had no interest in whether Hunter Biden was peddling his father’s name in exchange for a big payday; Big Tech also suppressed the news.
Facebook and Twitter -- where tens of millions of Americans get their news -- censored the Post story on grounds that the information about Hunter might not be true or might have been hacked – something that never bothered them when the information was about how President Trump supposedly paid almost no federal income tax or was working for the Russians.
So anyone who got his or her news from those social media platforms in the final days of the campaign might not even know who Hunter Biden was.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Joe Biden’s inauguration. Now that his father has been elected president, Hunter Biden tells us that he just learned that the federal government has been investigating his “tax affairs” -- an investigation that began in 2018 and reportedly includes inquiries involving potential criminal violations of tax and money laundering laws.
You might think that those award-winning journalists at the New York Times, who published all sorts of leaked information that made Donald Trump look bad, might have been able to find out about the FBI and IRS investigation of Hunter Biden. I’m making no accusations against the Times. Just wondering if they had the information and didn’t publish it – or didn’t even try to get it.
So what should we make of all those pious comments from so many journalists who had so little interest in the story – before the election?
Could it be that liberal journalists who made no secret of their disdain for Donald Trump, who thought he was a threat to democracy, were actually covering for Joe Biden in the weeks leading up to November 3?
More than a few conservatives think so.
“The news media helped silence a story and alter the results of an election. They are probably laughing in newsrooms all around the country,” Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor told Fox News.
And Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox that liberals in the mainstream media appear to have “snuffed out the Hunter Biden scandal” in order to give a boost to Biden’s election chances.
“It would have seriously hurt Joe Biden’s campaign enough to make a difference in key swing states,” Jacobson said. “Rather than regretting this journalistic malfeasance, the perpetrators likely are quite proud of themselves.”
So don’t expect introspection from lazy journalists who told us “there’s no ‘there’ there” – and no apologies from those who said, without evidence, it was all a “Russian hoax.”
Journalists aren’t big on admitting their mistakes. Media culpas aren’t their thing.