Glenn Greenwald, I am posting the most recent draft of my article about Joe and Hunter Biden — the last one seen by Intercept editors before telling me that they refuse to publish it absent major structural changes involving the removal of all sections critical of Joe Biden, leaving only a narrow article critiquing media outlets. I will also, in a separate post, publish all communications I had with Intercept editors surrounding this article so you can see the censorship in action and, given the Intercept’s denials, decide for yourselves (this is the kind of transparency responsible journalists provide, and which the Intercept refuses to this day to provide regarding their conduct in the Reality Winner story). This draft obviously would have gone through one more round of proof-reading and editing by me — to shorten it, fix typos, etc — but it’s important for the integrity of the claims to publish the draft in unchanged form that Intercept editors last saw, and announced that they would not “edit” but completely gut as a condition to publication:
THE REAL SCANDAL: U.S. MEDIA USES FALSEHOODS TO DEFEND JOE BIDEN FROM HUNTER’S EMAILS
Publication by the New York Post two weeks ago of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, relating to Vice President Joe Biden’s work in Ukraine, and subsequent articles from other outlets concerning the Biden family’s pursuit of business opportunities in China, provoked extraordinary efforts by a de facto union of media outlets, Silicon Valley giants and the intelligence community to suppress these stories.
One outcome is that the Biden campaign concluded, rationally, that there is no need for the front-running presidential candidate to address even the most basic and relevant questions raised by these materials. Rather than condemn Biden for ignoring these questions — the natural instinct of a healthy press when it comes to a presidential election — journalists have instead led the way in concocting excuses to justify his silence.
After the Post’s first article, both that newspaper and other news outlets have published numerous other emails and texts purportedly written to and from Hunter reflecting his efforts to induce his father to take actions as Vice President beneficial to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, on whose board of directors Hunter sat for a monthly payment of $50,000, as well as proposals for lucrative business deals in China that traded on his influence with his father.
Individuals included in some of the email chains have confirmed the contents’ authenticity. One of Hunter’s former business partners, Tony Bubolinski, has stepped forward on the record to confirm the authenticity of many of the emails and to insist that Hunter along with Joe Biden’s brother Jim were planning on including the former Vice President in at least one deal in China. And GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who appeared in one of the published email chains, appeared to confirm the authenticity as well, though he refused to answer follow-up questions about it.
Thus far, no proof has been offered by Bubolinski that Biden ever consummated his participation in any of those discussed deals. The Wall Street Journal says that it found no corporate records reflecting that a deal was finalized and that “text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr. Bobulinski, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”
But nobody claimed that any such deals had been consummated — so the conclusion that one had not been does not negate the story. Moreover, some texts and emails whose authenticity has not been disputed state that Hunter was adamant that any discussions about the involvement of the Vice President be held only verbally and never put in writing.
Beyond that, the Journal’s columnist Kimberly Strassel reviewed a stash of documents and “found correspondence corroborates and expands on emails recently published by the New York Post,” including ones where Hunter was insisting that it was his connection to his father that was the greatest asset sought by the Chinese conglomerate with whom they were negotiating. The New York Times on Sunday reached a similar conclusion: while no documents prove that such a deal was consummated, “records produced by Mr. Bobulinski show that in 2017, Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations about a joint venture with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy,” and “make clear that Hunter Biden saw the family name as a valuable asset, angrily citing his ‘family’s brand’ as a reason he is valuable to the proposed venture.”
These documents also demonstrate, reported the Times, “that the countries that Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with nations where Joe Biden had previously been involved as vice president.” Strassel noted that “a May 2017 ‘expectations’ document shows Hunter receiving 20% of the equity in the venture and holding another 10% for ‘the big guy’—who Mr. Bobulinski attests is Joe Biden.” And the independent journalist Matt Taibbi published an article on Sunday with ample documentation suggesting that Biden’s attempt to replace a Ukranian prosecutor in 2015 benefited Burisma.
All of these new materials, the authenticity of which has never been disputed by Hunter Biden or the Biden campaign, raise important questions about whether the former Vice President and current front-running presidential candidate was aware of efforts by his son to peddle influence with the Vice President for profit, and also whether the Vice President ever took actions in his official capacity with the intention, at least in part, of benefitting his son’s business associates. But in the two weeks since the Post published its initial story, a union of the nation’s most powerful entities, including its news media, have taken extraordinary steps to obscure and bury these questions rather than try to provide answers to them.
The initial documents, claimed the New York Post, were obtained when the laptops containing them were left at a Delaware repair shop with water damage and never picked up, allowing the owner to access its contents and then turn them over to both the FBI and a lawyer for Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani. The repair store owner confirmed this narrative in interviews with news outlets and then (under penalty of prosecution) to a Senate Committee; he also provided the receipt purportedly signed by Hunter. Neither Hunter nor the Biden campaign has denied these claims.
Publication of that initial New York Post story provoked a highly unusual censorship campaign by Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, through a long-time former Democratic Party operative, vowed to suppress the story pending its “fact-check,” one that has as of yet produced no public conclusions. And while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for Twitter’s handling of the censorship and reversed the policy that led to the blocking of all links the story, the New York Post, the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper, continues to be locked out of its Twitter account, unable to post as the election approaches, for almost two weeks.
After that initial censorship burst from Silicon Valley, whose workforce and oligarchs have donated almost entirely to the Biden campaign, it was the nation’s media outlets and former CIA and other intelligence officials who took the lead in constructing reasons why the story should be dismissed, or at least treated with scorn. As usual for the Trump era, the theme that took center stage to accomplish this goal was an unsubstantiated claim about the Kremlin responsibility for the story.
Numerous news outlets, including the Intercept, quickly cited a public letter signed by former CIA officials and other agents of the security state claiming that the documents have the “classic trademarks” of a “Russian disinformation” plot. But, as media outlets and even intelligence agencies are now slowly admitting, no evidence has ever been presented to corroborate this assertion. On Friday, the New York Times reported that “no concrete evidence has emerged that the laptop contains Russian disinformation” and the paper said even the FBI has “acknowledged that it had not found any Russian disinformation on the laptop.”
The Washington Post on Sunday published an op-ed — by Thomas Rid, one of those centrists establishmentarian professors whom media outlets routinely use to provide the facade of expert approval for deranged conspiracy theories — that contained this extraordinary proclamation: “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.”
Even the letter from the former intelligence officials cited by The Intercept and other outlets to insinuate that this was all part of some “Russian disinformation” scheme explicitly admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,” though many media outlets omitted that crucial acknowledgement when citing the letter in order to disparage the story as a Kremlin plot:
Despite this complete lack of evidence, the Biden campaign adopted this phrase used by intelligence officials and media outlets as its mantra for why the materials should not be discussed and why they would not answer basic questions about them. “I think we need to be very, very clear that what he’s doing here is amplifying Russian misinformation,” said Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield about the possibility that Trump would raise the Biden emails at Thursday night’s debate. Biden’s senior advisor Symone Sanders similarly warned on MSNBC: “if the president decides to amplify these latest smears against the vice president and his only living son, that is Russian disinformation.”
The few mainstream journalists who tried merely to discuss these materials have been vilified. For the crime of simply noting it on Twitter that first day, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman had her name trend all morning along with the derogatory nickname “MAGA Haberman.” CBS News’ Bo Erickson was widely attacked even by his some in the media simply for asking Biden what his response to the story was. And Biden himself refused to answer, accusing Erickson of spreading a “smear.”
That it is irresponsible and even unethical to mention these documents became a pervasive view in mainstream journalism. The NPR Public Editor, in an anazing statement representative of much of the prevailing media mentality, explicitly justified NPR’s refusal to cover the story on the ground that “we do not want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories . . . [or] waste the readers’ and listeners’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”
To justify her own show’s failure to cover the story, 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl resorted to an entirely different justification. “It can’t be verified,” the CBS reporter claimed when confronted by President Trump in an interview about her program’s failure to cover the Hunter Biden documents. When Trump insisted there were multiple ways to verify the materials on the laptop, Stahl simply repeated the same phrase: “it can’t be verified.”
After the final presidential debate on Thursday night, a CNN panel mocked the story as too complex and obscure for anyone to follow — a self-fulfilling prophecy given that, as the network’s media reporter Brian Stelter noted with pride, the story has barely been mentioned either on CNN or MSNBC. As the New York Times noted on Friday: “most viewers of CNN and MSNBC would not have heard much about the unconfirmed Hunter Biden emails…. CNN’s mentions of “Hunter” peaked at 20 seconds and MSNBC’s at 24 seconds one day last week.”
On Sunday, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour barely pretended to be interested in any journalism surrounding the story, scoffing during an interview at requests from the RNC’s Elizabeth Harrington to cover the story and verify the documents by telling her: “We’re not going to do your work for you.” Watch how the U.S.’s most mainstream journalists are openly announcing their refusal to even consider what these documents might reflect about the Democratic front-runner:
These journalists are desperate not to know. As Taibbi wrote on Sunday about this tawdry press spectacle: ” The least curious people in the country right now appear to be the credentialed news media, a situation normally unique to tinpot authoritarian societies.”
All of those excuses and pretexts — emanating largely from a national media that is all but explicit in their eagerness for Biden to win — served for the first week or more after the Post story to create a cone of silence around this story and, to this very day, a protective shield for Biden. As a result, the front-running presidential candidate knows that he does not have to answer even the most basic questions about these documents because most of the national press has already signaled that they will not press him to do so; to the contrary, they will concoct defenses on his behalf to avoid discussing it.
The relevant questions for Biden raised by this new reporting are as glaring as they are important. Yet Biden has had to answer very few of them yet because he has not been asked and, when he has, media outlets have justified his refusal to answer rather than demand that he do so. We submitted nine questions to his campaign about these documents that the public has the absolute right to know, including:
- whether he claims any the emails or texts are fabricated (and, if so, which specific ones);
- whether he knows if Hunter did indeed drop off laptops at the Delaware repair store;
- whether Hunter ever asked him to meet with Burisma executives or whether he in fact did so;
- whether Biden ever knew about business proposals in Ukraine or China being pursued by his son and brother in which Biden was a proposed participant and,
- how Biden could justify expending so much energy as Vice President demanding that the Ukrainian General Prosecutor be fired, and why the replacement — Yuriy Lutsenko, someone who had no experience in law; was a crony of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko; and himself had a history of corruption allegations — was acceptable if Biden’s goal really was to fight corruption in Ukraine rather than benefit Burisma or control Ukrainian internal affairs for some other objective. Continue Here