Spin jobs don’t get much more nausea inducing than “Hunter Biden’s Tangled Tale Comes Front and Center,” The New York Times’ exhausting chronicle of Hunter’s influence peddling.
The Times is writing this now only because Republicans took the House, and Joe Biden needs a pre-emptive defense. Investigations loom and must be discredited, and possible charges against Hunter Biden from the US attorney for Delaware need soft pedaling (he’s “closing in on a decision,” the story claims, something that has been promised for two years).
The upshot: Yes, drug addict Hunter profited off his father’s name and made deals in places the vice president had influence, like China and Ukraine. But Joe knew nothing about it! Trust us, we asked him. And if you can’t trust a Biden . . .
“The real Hunter Biden story is complex and very different in important ways from the narrative promoted by Republicans — but troubling in its own way,” The Times writes in the most Timesian sentence we’ve read so far this year.
Actually, it’s not that complicated. In fact, The Times lays it out in the next paragraph: “Hunter . . . forged business relationships that brought him millions of dollars, raised questions about whether he was cashing in on his family name [and] set off alarms among government officials about potential conflicts of interest.”
Ah, “raises questions.” How circumspect.
What comes next will be familiar to anyone who read The Post in October 2020, when we published information from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop. For this story, The Times says it used a “selection” of the emails “that The Times has verified as authentic, out of the thousands attributed to him that were disseminated by allies of Mr. Trump ahead of the 2020 election to try to undercut the Biden campaign.” The Post’s stories were based on the exact same emails The Times uses, as they are the ones related to Hunter’s business deals.
Information damaging to Republicans, like the Trump tax documents The Times published before the election, is apparently given by sources to reporters. When the story is about a Democrat, it’s “disseminated . . . to undercut.”
Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky offers Hunter a seat on the board of the gas giant Burisma after learning he’s the vice president’s son. “Despite criticism,” Hunter doesn’t want to give up the gig, “which was not particularly demanding of his time and continued to pay him handsomely — about $600,000 a year — even after he started smoking crack and stopped responding to emails.”
Hmm, sounds fishy. Were Burisma officials asking Hunter to help them with US government issues? They were! But no fear, “to insulate Hunter Biden from the requests, a lawyer in private practice who had previously served as a top immigration official in the Obama administration was brought in to handle the matter.” That sounds . . . unpersuasive. How does The Times know this? It doesn’t say. Was this always how it worked? We don’t know.
Frequently in the story, The Times “debunks” a claim simply by accepting Biden denials. On a trip to China, Hunter “briefly introduced” some of his business partners to his father. Nothing untoward! Yes, some of Joe Biden’s bills were paid out of Hunter BIden’s bank account, “But according to Biden family members and business associates, Hunter and his father never had joint bank accounts or direct access to each others’ money.” Oh, well, case closed.
The Times brings up Tony Bobulinski, Hunter’s former business partner, who says he directly met Joe Biden to talk about forming a Chinese investment fund after he left office. The Times say this is “claimed” but then answers a question not asked, “Family members . . . say the elder Mr. Biden never met with Mr. Ye [a Chinese business leader] or other company executives.” That’s not the accusation! He met with Bobulinski, who was supposed to work directly with Ye.
Clocking in at nearly 6,000 words, The Times opus adds little to the debate, painting the same portrait of a lovable scamp who just can’t help profiting off his political family. How could Joe Biden possibly know what he was up to?
But the case is not closed. The Times has been dragged kicking and screaming, more than two years after the laptop was revealed, into looking into the nexus of Hunter and his father. But the “narrative” is not contradicted just because Joe Biden’s allies say it is.
The Republicans will now investigate (not “pounce”) and compel witnesses — including possibly Hunter Biden — to answer questions under oath. They will try to reach conclusions, rather than jumping to them as The Times has. It is a “tangled tale.” Let’s untangle it.