German Axel Springer-owned news outlet POLITICO has recently ran an investigative piece on US President Joe Biden’s suspected involvement in his son’s business dealings in Ukraine. President Biden, or his representatives, have denied repeatedly and categorically that he had ever met Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma where his son Hunter was employed.
However, after a review by POLITICO of material obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop, the news site is concurring that a meeting of President Biden and Pozharskyi has very likely happened.
There are authenticated emails discussing a ‘sitdown’ of then-Vice President Biden, his son Hunter, and the Ukrainian executive at a posh cafe in Washington DC in April 2015. When confronted by the evidence, a White House spokesperson replied to POLITICO’s request in writing, evading the question of whether they could confirm or deny if President Biden had actually met Pozharskyi—despite having denied it prior. Instead, they wrote: ‘As we have said many times before, the President was not in business with his son or anyone else in the family.’
The underlying accusation is that Joe Biden used his political influence as the Vice President of the United States to land a high-paying job for his son with Burisma. Hunter Biden was paid around $83,000 a month by the Ukrainian energy company between May 2014 and April 2019, despite having no relevant experience or education in the energy sector.
Great investigative work from the great people at POLITICO—only about three years late.
Let’s take a look at how they covered the story of the Hunter Biden laptop back in the fall of 2020, ahead of the last presidential election.
On 23 October 2020, they published an article titled ‘Trump’s sideshow fizzles out,’ in which they describe, in a rather mocking tone, how President Trump’s attempt to make the Biden family’s shady business dealings the focus of the second presidential debate had failed. Hunter Biden’s laptop was brought up even back then, by Donald Trump’s attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a press conference organized right before the debate, but POLITICO—or any other mainstream media outlet—did not feel like doing any investigation into the validity of the laptop and its purported findings then.
What’s more, there is a paragraph in that piece that opens up a whole other can of worms. They wrote:
‘Trailing by nearly 10 points in the polls, and facing the potential for the greatest repudiation of an incumbent president since Jimmy Carter in 1980—a 400-plus electoral vote victory is possible for Joe Biden.’
Just like in 2016, mainstream predictions saw Donald Trump losing in a landslide only weeks before the election in 2020 as well. Evidently, this did not come true yet again, as Trump ended up getting 232 electoral votes (the exact inverse of what he got against Hillary Clinton four years prior). He also lost the popular vote by 4.5 percentage points, which is ranked 42nd out of the 59 US presidential elections held so far in terms of popular vote margin victory—that is a relatively close result, despite President Trump having had to deal with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and an unprecedently hostile domestic media.
The left-leaning mainstream media has been salivating over the idea of a Ronald Reagan-like blowout for a liberal president
(the Republican Reagan won 49 out of the 50 states in 1984) for decades, but they never got it,
even when Barack Obama ran against John McCain amidst the 2008 financial crisis.
On 24 October 2020, POLITICO ran another piece, this one with the title ‘Former Giuliani associate raises questions about Hunter Biden’s “hard drive from hell”’. In it, they report on Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas claiming that the former NYC Mayor was aware of Hunter Biden’s laptop being found abandoned in a computer repair shop with incriminating material on it as early as May 2019. However, he decided not to go public with it at the time. POLITICO insinuates that this was because even he was questioning its validity; then reiterates that many intelligence agents claimed it was likely the product of a Russian misinformation campaign.
This was another golden opportunity for POLITICO journalists to put their investigator chops to work, and they could have validated the information coming from the infamous Hunter Biden laptop then and there, instead of three years later. In that case, it was likely that Giuliani waited to go public with the laptop story at a more politically advantageous time, right before the 2020 election. That itself raises some ethical questions on his part, but nothing comparable to multiple actors across the entire US media actively discrediting accurate information that would have been very relevant to voters in the 2020 election.
After the 2020 election, at a time when the results were still being challenged in courts, on 21 December 2020, there was another article published on the site which mentioned the Hunter Biden case. The piece spoke about how Former US Attorney General William Barr, the second of the two AGs serving under President Trump, was feeling about leaving office. About the investigation of the younger Biden’s alleged tax fraud, AG Barr was quoted as saying: ‘I think to the extent there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department’. This article goes on to make no mention of the findings of the laptop, although it would have been a good opportunity to bring it up to contrast that with the former AG’s opinion, as at the time, it was not a subject of any criminal investigation.
Take another example, that of President Trump’s phone call to Georgia’s lead election investigator Frances Watson. The Washington Post on 9 January 2021 alleged that Trump told Watson to ‘find the fraud’ and he would be ‘a national hero’ if he did. On 11 March of that year, however, they issued a correction, in which they retracted the claim that President Trump ever said these statements.
That was about a month after his impeachment trial,
where he was in some danger of being convicted in the Senate of ‘inciting an insurrection’. A part of the article of impeachment was related to his efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia. Mind you, at the time President Trump was not even able to use social media to defend himself and dispute media claims, as all major social media sites had banned his account.
It seems that there is indeed no bigger threat to press freedom than the mainstream liberal media itself.