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It’s now clear that the Hunter Biden story was real, with Hunter himself acknowledging a federal probe into his taxes — one that reportedly began in 2018. Really, it was always clear. Yet, when The New York Post broke the details, virtually the entire journalistic establishment and left-wing punditsphere defamed the newspaper, claiming it was passing on Russian “disinformation” or partisan fabrications.
The political media quickly began pumping out process stories about the alleged discord in The Post’s newsroom and about the problems with the reporting. In so doing, of course, they did practically no reporting on the substantive allegations that Joe Biden’s family had spent years cashing in on his influence.
Tech companies, spurred on by these censorious journalists, shut down the account of one of America’s most-read newspapers to inhibit users from reading the story. It was completely unprecedented.
At the time, I argued that The Post used the same ethical and journalistic standards that the media have employed for decades. But, in truth, it exercised a higher standard of professionalism than most outlets reporting on the Russia collusion hysteria did for three-plus years. It certainly exhibited a higher ethical standard than Jeffrey Goldberg did in his Atlantic piece claiming that Donald Trump had besmirched the American military — which political journalists had no problem sharing as irrefutable and unimpeachable fact.
In October, the New York Times ran a piece headlined, “New York Post Published Hunter Biden Report Amid Newsroom Doubts.” Today, the same Times reports that, “Biden team has rejected some of the claims made in the Post articles, but has not disputed the authenticity of the files upon which they were based.”
The crux of the case against disseminating the Post’s story was that the emails found on Hunter’s laptop may not be real and that there was no way to authenticate them. Apparently, that wasn’t true. All reporters had to do, it seems, was ask.
In October, left-wing sites such as the Daily Beast were featuring headlines that read, “Russian State Media Is Desperately Trying to Keep the Hunter Biden Story Alive” and “FBI Examining Hunter’s Laptop As Foreign Op, Contradicting Trump’s Intel Czar.” Today we learn from the same outlet that “evidence of [a money laundering] probe [into Hunter Biden] was apparent in the markings on a series of documents that were made public — but went largely unnoticed — in the days leading up to the November election.”
Yesterday, NBC News reported, “Hunter Biden, president-elect’s son, says federal prosecutors probing his taxes.” But in October, NBC News had “reporters” Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny producing serious-sounding articles such as, “How a fake persona laid the groundwork for a Hunter Biden conspiracy deluge” and “Inside the campaign to ‘pizzagate’ Hunter Biden” to undercut The Post’s reporting.
Ken Dilanian, a leading voice in the debunked Russian collusion coverage, had a mid-October headline that read, “Feds examining whether alleged Hunter Biden emails are linked to a foreign intel operation.”
It’s peculiar that reporters could so easily confirm alleged counterintelligence investigations but not one into the family of the front-running presidential candidate.
Then again, you may recall the interview with National Public Radio’s public editor in which Terence Samuel, NPR’s managing editor for news, explained: “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.” It is the default position of many journalists that anything undermining Democrats is by default a distraction.
Another disquieting aspect to this story is how the Department of Justice purportedly participated in burying it. Sources told Fox News, and others, that the DOJ is super sensitive about moving investigations from “covert” to “overt” during an election if they believe it could potentially affect the outcome. Their political sensitivities are irrelevant. We need to know more, but tamping down an investigation to hide it from the public before an election is as bad as accelerating an investigation to smear someone.
Law enforcement is tasked with investigating criminality, not with assessing how their work will shape public perception during an election. Rather than following process, bureaucrats are now making investigatory decisions that could easily be construed as helping politicians who are either their boss, or their future boss.
Moreover, Hunter is not even a candidate for any office. What kind of familial relationships are covered under this friendly DOJ dispensation? Cousins? In-laws? Friends? Anyone with the name Biden? If the DOJ’s argument is that Hunter was so close to Joe that an investigation might have affected his father’s chances, then, well, that’s an important enough relationship that I think voters ought to know about. Shouldn’t they be aware of the prospect of corruption?
It’s certainly clear now that many of the things Tony Bobulinski, one-time Hunter business partner, claimed about the Biden business enterprise are true. The FBI is not only investigating Hunter’s taxes, but reportedly also a money-laundering scheme and his foreign ties to China. Bobulinski had alleged that Joe Biden knew about his family’s operations, and that he benefited from them. If this were said of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, they would be the focus of frenzied coverage. And rightly so.
At some point the media was going to be compelled to deal with the Hunter Biden story. He, after all, is now the focus of an FBI investigation. Now, I’m certainly not convinced coverage of the investigation would have changed the outcome of the presidential election (unless we had learned that Joe was involved or aware, for which there is, incidentally, some circumstantial evidence). I don’t know if Hunter has done anything criminal.
But I am convinced that journalists thought the case mattered — and for this reason avoided it. They simply abdicated their professional responsibilities to help Democrats win because many don’t take their craft seriously anymore. That, we will continue to see, is a potential disaster for the nation.
David Harsanyi is a columnist for The Post and National Review, where this first appeared.