What to make of the 'Hunter Biden laptop' stories from the New York Post? A few thoughts, to start: (1) It seems pretty telling that the Biden campaign -- for all its umbrage -- has not denied the authenticity of the emails themselves, and has declined to rule out the possibility that Biden's son did arrange a meeting between the then-Vice President and a top Burisma adviser. This calls into question Biden's prior denials, and raises questions about Hunter Biden's apparent lucrative arrangement with a Chinese energy company, under which a key deliverable was access to power. This stuff is intriguing, but the authenticity of the material matters most. (2) Hunter Biden's struggles with addiction seem pretty obvious, and his father's expressions of love and support demonstrate compassion and humanity. Any dunking or ridicule on this front is callous and gross. (3) The near-instant lefty/media narrative that the laptop caper is a Kremlin operation, which is now being investigated, does not appear to have much (or any) basis in verifiable fact at this stage. And if this does turn out to be a Russian conspiracy, that still doesn't explain first point.
(4) Social media companies' efforts to suppress this reporting have been appalling, heavy-handed, and revealing. The back-filling of excuses and justifications by Twitter demonstrate how badly they botched this. I do not believe that new government intervention and regulation is a viable or smart solution, but it's not at all unreasonable to have serious concerns about Big Tech wielding the power to simply erase inconvenient stories (using various high-minded-sounding rationalizations) from the virtual public square. I worry more about search engines like Google more than I do about other platforms. (5) Much larger stories than this have proven not to be electoral game-changers this cycle, so I'd be very surprised if this one moves the needle meaningfully with voters. (6) There are fair questions to be asked about the contents of some of these emails, and launching nasty attacks on a campaign embed reporter for even raising the issue is both unresponsive and a bad look:
I asked Joe Biden: What is your response to the NYPost story about your son, sir?— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) October 17, 2020
He called it a “smear campaign” and then went after me. “I know you’d ask it. I have no response, it’s another smear campaign, right up your alley, those are the questions you always ask.” pic.twitter.com/Eo6VD4TqxD
Veteran journalists Paula Reid and Major Garrett called this out:
Biden adopts Trump playbook - attacking pool reporter @BoKnowsNews for asking about Hunter Biden story which has been a focus of President Trump’s campaign over past few days. Fine to attack the story, but why personally insult Bo? https://t.co/PgOsLgu2DT— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) October 17, 2020
To be clear:— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) October 18, 2020
Asking for a response is not hostile
“Smear” is not a response
Team #Biden doesn’t accept it from #Trump on stories of alleged misconduct
Also those who covered Obama-Biden who asked probing Qs remember being deemed “crazy” or outcasts. This looks familiar. https://t.co/1QcWmP2ZIG
Right on all counts, especially that last one from Garrett. It's a journalistic badge of honor to ask tough (even hostile and tendentious) questions of the Trump administration and campaign. Journos congratulate each other, express solidarity with one another, and help each other sell books about their courage. Garrett's observation about the Obama years is correct and may again become relevant very soon. The press corps was usually docile-to-supine in its coverage of the previous administration. Occasional hard questions were often received with snide scorn. Fox -- which came somewhat close to treating the Obama campaign and administration the way the rest of the media covers Trump -- was singled out as illegitimate.
Too many powerful Democrats (this one in particular comes to mind) feel entitled to coast, more or less unchallenged, through the media interviews they deign to grant. Unfortunately, quite a few journalists seem to agree. They're scarred from Trump's surprise victory four years, and leftists have convinced them that treating serious Clinton flaws seriously makes them complicit. They don't want to risk a repeat, so a lot of serious potential journalism has been put on hold -- and 'problematic' stories are downplayed, ignored, or outright suppressed. So much of this is unhealthy and contributes to the conspiratorial paranoia that increasingly characterizes American politics, at both ends of the spectrum. In any case, will other journalists condemn this bullying from Biden? I'll leave you with this: Was this the last question Joe Biden will field until Thursday?
“What flavor did you get?” - you don’t need to ask the candidate this question. Find out from staff.— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) October 18, 2020
Two weeks out, a party nominee should be asked more substantive questions.
This isn’t the first Iowa trip! https://t.co/SSYC37yfgp