Ever since Watergate, when a couple of unknown journalists found their way to fame and fortune by bringing down a president of the United States, the Washington press corps has embraced the idea of holding those in power accountable.
That is unless the president of the United States is a Democrat.
Consider the treatment given to Hunter Biden, seen last week at the White House when he should be in a self-imposed exile, hanging his head perpetually in shame. No one yet knows everything that’s on his laptop. What we do know, thanks to the diligent work of a few outlets the American media complex kept isolated during the last election, would have led to a barrage of congressional hearings in the Nancy Pelosi-controlled U.S. House of Representatives if it had come off a computer belonging to former President Donald Trump Jr.
It’s easy to dismiss those concerns as “whataboutism,” but how can anyone continue to overlook Hunter Biden’s ruminations on his business dealings without asking questions? What does “10 percent for the big guy” mean, and from whom?
The role of bias is obvious. If it had been Mr. Trump, stickers reading “Who is the Big Guy?” would be stuck on the back of every Prius from New York to California, the congressional hearings would be on television in prime time, and every big city newspaper worth the name would have a special team of investigative reporters working on the story.
How do we know? Easy — because that’s what happened once the Steele dossier, now exposed as a hoax that started, in one fashion or another, inside Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and whose narrative was pushed along by people who had been high up in the Obama administration.
As stories go, the two narratives are quite similar. Both involve the president, members of his immediate family, and the allegation favors were (or would be traded) for financial and other considerations. No honest reporter can deny this yet, while the Trump collusion story was elevated to a level that took over the news cycle, the Hunter Biden story was buried until after the election. Then, when it couldn’t be hidden any longer, it was relegated to the inside pages of outlets from coast-to-coast who, rather than digging for their own dirt, just reported on what others uncovered.
If this is how supposedly independent journalists behave, we’d rather have spinach. This is why bias matters. We’ll admit it was important to know whether the Trump campaign knowingly received help from the Russians in winning the White House. Even if we didn’t believe the story, there was enough seemingly credible information out there to indicate it should be pursued.
The Hunter Biden story deserves similar treatment but isn’t getting it. How can journalists and editors concerned about accountability continue to behave as though credible allegations payments were made to members of the Biden family by foreign businesses and foreign powers aren’t worth covering intensely? By allowing their personal bias and political preference to get in the way of their jobs, that’s how.
That’s not good for journalism. And it’s not good for the American system — which itself is under scrutiny following the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Democracy doesn’t only “die in darkness,” as one paper likes to put it. It can die in the daylight too if the people keeping watch keep their eyes closed when they should be looking.
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