Last week, a Senate Intelligence Committee report detailed how the son of a major presidential candidate, who has an extensive history of shady foreign business dealings, received a $3.5-million wire transfer from the wife of a Russian politician.
The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and most major media outlets didn’t cover the wire-transfer story at all. Four years ago, not reporting such a story was a possibility too absurd to even contemplate – but then again, no one would have predicted the candidate with the shady Russia ties is not Donald Trump, but Joe Biden.
People often talk about how Trump is responsible for destroying political norms, and that’s a valid concern. However, one of the truly frightening things about the Trump era is how institutions have exploited a perceived crisis in truth-telling to justify abandoning their own standards by blaming it on Trump. Increasingly, we see major stories break where the media establishment decides on a collective omertà because the story undermines its own credibility or might sway voters in directions it doesn’t approve of. When that happens, no news is good news.
When Trump raised the issue at the debate, Joe Biden responded by saying the claim was “Totally discredited. Totally discredited.” Given that it’s a direct allegation in a government document and Biden is flatly denying it, you’d think this would be a perfect opportunity for the media to dig in and sort out the truth of the claim. Instead, they have essentially punted on the issue.
According to PolitiFact, which refused to rate the claim either true or false, the facts are in dispute because “Biden’s lawyer says he did not co-found the partnership [that received the money] and had no stake in it,” and “Democrats say they reviewed the Republicans’ documentation but did not find a specific link to Hunter Biden.”
So why does the Senate intel committee report that Biden was a “co-founder” of the firm in question? Well, one clue might be that committee members read it in the media. A lengthy New Yorker profile* of Hunter Biden from last year, which clearly had extensive cooperation from the Biden team, reported the following: “In June, 2009, five months after Joe Biden became Vice-President, Hunter co-founded a second company, Rosemont Seneca Partners, with Christopher Heinz, Senator John Kerry’s stepson.” That was 15 months ago. For the Biden camp to be disputing this key fact now seems awfully convenient. Further, in that same magazine article, Hunter Biden admits to taking an $80,000 bribe from a Communist Chinese Party-connected tycoon, in the form of a 2.8-carat diamond delivered to his hotel room.
If the Biden camp is denying Hunter’s role in the firm in question, the media should note the denial, while investigating the truth of the claim. In the meantime, the press is probably obligated to note his history of taking money from foreign sources, a pattern which tends to undercut the denials. And then there’s still the issue of what his father said at the debate.
*Link to original New Yorker Article: