The New York Times last week confirmed the authenticity of emails from Hunter Biden’s notorious laptop, effectively issuing a massive correction for virtually all of the corporate media. Of course, you had to be enthusiastically reading The Times’ story about the ongoing federal investigation of President Biden’s son because the nugget was buried in the 24th paragraph.
And although conservative media treated The New York Times admission as a bombshell, most mainstream reporters yawned.
When The New York Post broke the story of the laptop and its contents in mid-October 2020, it revealed the extent to which Hunter Biden sold access to his powerful father.
Emails showed that the elder Biden was aware of his son’s influence-peddling to foreign operators, approved it and was likely a financial beneficiary (“10 percent for the big guy,” read one email).
Other emails indicated that Hunter and Joe Biden co-mingled their finances, shared bank accounts and covered each other’s bills. In one message, Hunter revealed that he had been locked out of a bank account and that his father was using it. In a text, Hunter complained that he was required to give his father half of his money.
This was explosive stuff just before a presidential election. And most of the media wanted none of it.
Twitter suspended The New York Post’s account and barred anyone from sharing the story. Facebook similarly throttled its dissemination. Other than The Post and Fox News, no major news outlets would touch it except to aggressively discount it.
A few days into the drama, Politico published a letter from more than 50 “former intelligence officials,” who asserted that the laptop appeared to be a “Russian disinformation operation.” In the letter, the group actually admitted that “we do not know” if the emails were “genuine or not” and that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.”
But that enormous caveat did not stop them from signing their names anyway, and it certainly didn’t stop the media from latching onto the letter as a shield to protect them from reporting on the story honestly.
I served as the communications director for former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign throughout 2019 and 2020, so I was intimately involved in the battle over the coverage of Hunter’s laptop.
For the final two weeks of the campaign, we held daily press conference calls, usually featuring members of the Senate or House of Representatives. We laid out the facts as revealed by the emails and implored the media to do their jobs in reporting on them.
The media wouldn’t budge.
Before the final debate of the race, the Trump campaign produced Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter’s, who said he sat with President Biden as they discussed a deal with a Chinese energy company.
This was a direct eyewitness, going on the record about his own experience with the Bidens, and the media only scoffed.
At the time, all the usual suspects, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC and CNN, went into overdrive to discredit the New York Post and parrot the bogus claim that it was all “Russian disinformation.”
CNN’s Brian Stelter, supposedly a media critic, last week couldn’t find time to amend or correct his own previous reporting — or that of his network’s — that the laptop was a Russian plant.
In fact, most outlets have acted as if The New York Times confirmation simply didn’t happen.
But perhaps the most ludicrous coverage of this sorry episode was another variation of the “Republicans pounce” genre of reporting.
Andrew Feinberg wrote an item for The Independent under the headline, “Trumpworld figures admit campaign expected Hunter Biden laptop story to help them in 2020.”
This is an incredible piece of journalistic sleuthing.
What tipped him off? Was it the dozen press conference calls we held at the end of the campaign pleading with the media to cover it? Or was it the press conference with Mr. Bobulinski?
Or is Mr. Feinberg’s story an admission that the media didn’t cover the story precisely because it would have aided the Trump campaign?
Regardless, we now have evidence that if Hunter’s laptop received the attention it deserved, it would have affected the election.
Trump pollster John McLaughlin found that 4.6% of Biden voters would have changed their minds if they had known about it, easily enough to flip results in key states. Another survey by The Polling Company showed that even more Biden voters in seven swing states — 17% — would have switched their votes if they had been aware of the laptop and other stories.
We have a news media that is always worrying about election interference. If their concerns were genuine, they would look at themselves first.
• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and the founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs, a communication consulting firm.