Glenn Greenwald Quits Intercept

The iconoclastic journalist is out at the publication he founded.

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald resigned from The Intercept, which he co-founded, claiming that they “censored” him from publishing a story critical of Joe Biden’s role in the Burisma microscandal. He published a novella outlining the charges on a new Substack blog and followed it up with another few thousand words detailing the emails back-and-forth with the Intercept’s editors. In between, he published the offending article.

The New York Times (“Glenn Greenwald Leaves The Intercept, Claiming He Was Censored“) and Washington Post (“Glenn Greenwald resigns from the Intercept following dispute over Biden story“) both cover the story in some detail without drawing any conclusions.

Aside from his characteristic verbosity, Greenwald comes across as rather self-important in the whole thing. And, of course, being edited is not “censorship.”

Still, I believe him when he says that his contract with the site he founded—but didn’t finance—allows him editorial autonomy and, at the very least, the right to publish works the editors reject elsewhere. Further, while I find there to be a whole lot of nothing to the Burisma mess—aside from the routine fact that mediocre relatives of the powerful tend to cash in on that connection—there’s nothing particularly egregious in the piece in question. Indeed, after years of denying that there was Russian collusion in the 2016 election, I find it odd that this is where his editors drew the line.

In response to Greenwald’s deluge of charges, the editors push back pretty aggressively:

GLENN GREENWALD’S DECISION to resign from The Intercept stems from a fundamental disagreement over the role of editors in the production of journalism and the nature of censorship. Glenn demands the absolute right to determine what he will publish. He believes that anyone who disagrees with him is corrupt, and anyone who presumes to edit his words is a censor. Thus, the preposterous charge that The Intercept’s editors and reporters, with the lone, noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism because we have been seduced by the lure of a Joe Biden presidency. A brief glance at the stories The Intercept has published on Biden will suffice to refute those claims.

The narrative Glenn presents about his departure is teeming with distortions and inaccuracies — all of them designed to make him appear as a victim, rather than a grown person throwing a tantrum. It would take too long to point them all out here, but we intend to correct the record in time. For now, it is important to make clear that our goal in editing his work was to ensure that it would be accurate and fair. While he accuses us of political bias, it was he who was attempting to recycle the dubious claims of a political campaign — the Trump campaign — and launder them as journalism.

We have the greatest respect for the journalist Glenn Greenwald used to be, and we remain proud of much of the work we did with him over the past six years. It is Glenn who has strayed from his original journalistic roots, not The Intercept.

While Greenwald is very much of the left, he’s not a partisan. He made his name as a critic of the George W. Bush’s civil liberties violations in the early stages of the global war on terror but was equally vocipherous against Obama’s. While I very much departed company from him on Wikileaks, I respected his intellectual consistency and thoroughness on the larger issues.

In the last four years, I’ve been rather befuddled with his stance on Trump and Russia, which seems wildly out of character and has, in combination with the turn the Edward Snowden affair took, left him open to charges of being a Russian stooge. And, of course, as the photo illustration atop the post suggests, he’s also become a welcome if improbably ally of the Republican Party and its defenders.

Still, Matt Taibbi defends Greenwald and excoriates the Intercept. He provides some inside baseball:

An aside: when reporters and editors interact, they speak between the lines. If an editor only ever suggests or assigns stories from a certain angle, you’re being told they don’t particularly want the other angle. If your editor has lots of hypothetical concerns at the start, he or she probably won’t be upset if you choose a different topic. Finally, when an editor lays out “suggestions” about things that might “help” a piece “be even stronger,” it’s a signal both parties understand about what elements have to be put in before the editor will send the thing through.

Reed explained that any piece Greenwald wrote on the Biden/Burisma subject would have to go through “the editorial process and fact-checking that we do with any story with this kind of high profile.” Peter Maass would edit, but Reed also noted that there was a lot of “in-house knowledge” they could all “tap into.”

By “in-house knowledge,” she meant the work of Robert Mackey and Jim Risen, two Intercept reporters with whom Greenwald clashed in the past. Risen had already loudly denounced the Post story not only as conspiracy theory, but foreign disinformation. Essentially, Reed was telling Greenwald his piece would be quasi-edited by people with whom he’d had major public disagreements about Russia-related issues going back years.

To this, Greenwald responded that this was a double-standard: when Risen wrote an article credulously quoting intelligence officials like James Clapper, John Brennan, and Michael Hayden (more on the extreme irony of this later) describing the Post story as having “the classic earmarks of Russian misinformation,” he could do so willy-nilly. But when Greenwald wanted to write an op-ed piece questioning the “prevailing wisdom on Biden and Burisma,” a team of people would would be summoned.

“The only reason people are getting interested in and ready to scrutinize what I write is because everyone is afraid of being accused of having published something harmful to Biden,” Greenwald told them. “That’s the reality.”

Additionally, he bolsters Greenwald’s claim that this is part of a larger trend:

In the last few weeks I’ve heard from multiple well-known journalists going through struggles in their newsrooms, with pressure to avoid certain themes in campaign coverage often central to their worries. There are many reporters out there — most of them quite personally hostile to Donald Trump — who are grating under what they perceive as relentless pressure to publish material favorable to the Democratic Party cause. Greenwald’s story mirrors some of these stories, but his is more striking than some others on a few levels.

[…]

Greenwald co-founded the Intercept with this exact scenario in mind, building a structure where “little private talks” with bosses would never happen, and there couldn’t be high-profile dismissals for ideological reasons.

What he didn’t guess at was that even in an atmosphere where managerial interference is near zero, a collective of independent journalists can themselves become censors and enforcers of official orthodoxies. In some cases, free journalists will become more aggressive propagandists and suppressors of speech than the officials from whom they supposedly need to be protected. This Lord of the Flies effect is what happened with The Intercept.

It’s a long story, but the punchline is that the self-editing journalists at the Intercept somewhere along the line began to fall for what will look, years from now, like a comically transparent bait-and-switch operation. They were suckered into becoming parodies of their original incarnation.

He also notes an interesting irony:

In the Obama years, progressive journalists were infuriated by the disclosures of whistleblowers like Snowden and Chelsea Manning, and aimed their professional ire at the federal government for war crimes, drone assassination, and mass abuse of surveillance authority. The bugbears of the day were intelligence officials who ran these programs and deceived the public about them: people like CIA directors Hayden and Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence Clapper.

These intelligence community leaders only a few short years ago served an administration that sought a “reset” with the systematic human rights violator that was Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a country then-President Obama dismissed throughout his tenure as a “regional power” that acts “not out of strength, but out of weakness.” The consistent posture of the Obama administration — the Obama-Biden administration — was that Russia ranked far below terrorists as a potential threat to the United States.

After 2016, however, these officials presented themselves as norms-defending heroes protecting America against the twin “existential” threats of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Russia, just a few years ago described by Rachel Maddow as a harmless “gnat on the butt of an elephant,” was now reinvented as an all-powerful foe mounting an influence campaign of unprecedented reach, with everyone from Trump to the Green Party to blogs like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, to congresswoman and war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, to Bernie Sanders, all potentially doing the bidding of a Cold War foe bent on “sowing discord” on our shores.

He goes into great length about Greenwald’s long push against this conceit, helping answer the concerns I expressed earlier. At the end of the day, Greenwald is simply anti-establishment, regardless of who’s running it at any given moment.

With regard to the larger aspersions Greenwald and Taibbi hurl at the press and which Tucker Carlson and others are lapping up, I find them overblown but with a kernel of truth. The major media outlets, including the Times and the Post, are still reeling from accusations that their “objective” reporting of the 2016 race, including daily coverage of the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s emails, helped give the election to Trump. Almost from the moment of the election, both outlets—and most other mainstream papers, magazines, and networks—have reconsidered their approach, being more straightforward in calling Trump’s lies “lies” and being much less prone to offer a “both sides” spin on the news. Indeed, the Post adopted, less than a month into Trump’s presidency, the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” While they claimed this was not a response to Trump, nobody believed them.

In an atmosphere where the President and his administration lie without shame as a matter of course, and where foreign manipulation is not only routine but sought out by the President himself, it’s hardly surprising that the weird story about Hunter Biden’s laptop peddled by Rudy Giuliani was so quickly and universally rejected.

There is, therefore, something mildly admirable about Greenwald’s contrarianism. But one understands his editors not wanting to give that story any credence at all on the eve of an election.

FILED UNDER: Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    At the end of the day, Greenwald is simply anti-establishment, regardless of who’s running it at any given moment.

    Or he’s just a desperate attention whore willing to take whatever position will get him another five minutes of air time.

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  2. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Like Michael Moore?

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  3. mistermix says:

    James, I think you’d be singing a different tune if you ever interacted with GG in a dispute. A while ago, another blogger at our site wrote something mildly (and I do mean mildly) critical of GG that centered upon the somewhat exaggerated claims he made for a PAC he was pushing at the time. My God, the response we got — it was so over the top, demanding we take down the post, extremely verbose and overwrought. The key characteristic of that response, and most of what you read from GG, is that anyone with the temerity to disagree with him does so out of compromised motives, not out of genuine intellectual disagreement.

    Also, the guy has two settings: aggressive and full nuclear war. I could see where the editors at the Intercept would be sick of dealing with him.

    Why he and Taibbi both are such Russo-skeptics escapes me, too. Taibbi seems like a decent journalist and not as combative as GG.

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  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I stopped paying attention to this ass-hat long ago.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Still, I believe him when he says that his contract with the site he founded—but didn’t finance—allows him editorial autonomy and, at the very least, the right to publish works the editors reject elsewhere.

    For starters, I don’t believe him, I don’t believe any news organization would enter into such an arrangement. It’s aking to taping a sign on your own back that says “Kick me.” 2nd of all, he did publish it elsewhere and as far as I know, the Intercept is not saying he couldn’t do that.

    While Greenwald is very much of the left, he’s not a partisan. ……………….

    In the last four years, I’ve been rather befuddled with his stance on Trump and Russia, which seems wildly out of character and has, in combination with the turn the Edward Snowden affair took, left him open to charges of being a Russian stooge. And, of course, as the photo illustration atop the post suggests, he’s also become a welcome if improbably ally of the Republican Party and its defenders.

    I’m not sure why you are befuddled James. I’ve seen the same thing and have no problem accepting that he is a Russian stooge and his repeated appearances on FOX just reinforces that perception.

    I don’t know what the Russians have on him, maybe they are just paying him for his services, lord knows as he becomes ever more irrelevant he has to peddle his wares somewhere. The idea of getting a real job is probably terrifying for him. Besides as @Michael Reynolds: said, “Or he’s just a desperate attention whore willing to take whatever position will get him another five minutes of air time.”

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  6. Tim D. says:

    “At the end of the day, Greenwald is simply anti-establishment, regardless of who’s running it at any given moment.”

    I don’t think this is quite right. GG is obviously more upset about “corporate Dems” than he is about the actual current (Trump) establishment. He has a bland pro forma opposition to Trump, but clearly what really gets his blood pumping is exposing the flaws of the Democratic establishment.

    He’s obviously done great work over the years, but he’s really missed the boat on the entire Trump years. There are literally 1000s of Trump lies and scandals more egregious than Hunter Biden amateur hour. Too bad GG isn’t interested.

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  7. Jon says:

    While Greenwald is very much of the left, he’s not a partisan

    Which, of course, is why he constantly appears on the Tucker Carlson White Power Hour to attack Democrats as hopelessly, irretrievably, corrupt.

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  8. Blue Galangal says:

    @Tim D.: Not to mention that the work he’s done has often been on the backs of or because of the commitment/knowledge of others, notably Laura Poitras, without whom Snowden would have gotten nowhere.

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  9. Tim D. says:

    @Blue Galangal: Agreed. Citizenfour was pretty damn amazing.

    As a non-journalist, I also find the “media criticism” lens to be overused by GG. Here’s the two-step they use to dismiss everything Russia related.

    1. Rachel Maddow exaggerated a bunch of stuff
    2. Therefore, Russiagate is a nothing burger

    As a citizen, I read the Mueller report and see 7-8 really alarming scandals (even if they are not criminal) and what seems to be the leading edge of a disturbing new trend in election tampering. Making this about an inside-the-media-club dispute is pretty much exactly the wrong stance to take for the health of the nation.

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  10. KM says:

    At the end of the day, Greenwald is simply anti-establishment, regardless of who’s running it at any given moment.

    He’s so anti-establishment, he’s throwing a fit and quitting a site he founded because they won’t let him do whatever he wants. There’s a term for that and it’s not anti-establishment. When you want to “write an op-ed piece questioning the “prevailing wisdom on Biden and Burisma” ” based on clearly faked propaganda and get cranky your own people stop you, it means you’re a narcissistic contrarian asshat who’s been sniffing the QAnon fumes. Plenty of people all over this country are self-destructing because of this crap: burning bridges, destroying relationships and wrecking professional and business credentials as they go. That the Intercept had “a team of people would would be summoned” makes it sound like an intervention and a known necessity to manage him. Back when I worked in a group home, the term was “eyes on” and it sounds like Greenwald was aware his own staff thought he qualified.

    Let’s face it: after this election, we’re going to have a ton of people like Greenwald trying to rage quit because social tolerance for their crap’s at an all-time low. Trump let these folks have 4 years to act out and get their conspiracy theories on to the point where professional restraint imposed from the outside seems like dictatorial censorship. Editorials are your opinions – you have the right to have one but not to force it on others. A large part of the country’s about to learn reality is not FOX and MAGA nonsense is actively damaging to a non-wingnut brand. Hissy fits aside, MAGAts and QAnon are going to need to learn to either reintegrate back into society at large. Post-Trump, only the hardcore will still want to be associated with him and the polite distancing from people who can’t stop snorting Q will being rapidly. Greenwald’s making his own drama but he’s a glimpse into what we’ll be seeing more of shortly.

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  11. Pat Curley says:

    “Be careful how you choose your enemy, for you will come to resemble him.”

    It’s happened to the media at a startling pace in the Trump era and apparently only Taibbi and Greenwald recognize it. Trump will be gone to Mar-A-Lago in a few months, but the unrecognizable media he left behind will be a factor for decades to come.

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  12. mattbernius says:

    Something jumps out to me in Taibbi’s defense:

    But when Greenwald wanted to write an op-ed piece questioning the “prevailing wisdom on Biden and Burisma,” a team of people would would be summoned.

    This is the first time that I’ve read that the piece that Greenwald was writing was an op-ed. Again, op-ed editorial fact-checking is historically very different than that of standard reportage. So, to some degree Greenwald and Taibbi have a point.

    There is a BIG however here…

    In recent years, especially around the Bidens and Ukraine, there has been an ongoing pattern of reporters using the “opinion” section to get around standard journalistic practices. All of the initial “reporting” that started all of this was done by John Solomon exclusively through through The Hill’s Opinion Pages. So again, not closely fact checked. In fact, The Hill’s internal investigation of Solomon’s work found significant issues with this practice after an indepth investigation.

    Likewise the Wall Street Journal “broke” its version of the story in its Opinion section as well (and later used the same section to attack it’s own newsroom’s less histrionic take of the same set of facts).

    So far, only the NY Post has actually done it’s primary coverage of this via the Newsroom.

    From my perspective of working with Journalists in the past, most see a really big issue with using Opinions to “break” stories. It’s something that “big names” like Greenwald and Solomon have been able to get away with in the past.

    It’s also a really dubious practice from a journalistic perspective. So I personally support it being cracked down on. Unfortunately, what often happens is that the Greenwalds and Solomons of the would just up and leave and start their own subscription services where they end up taking on the role of writer, editor, and fact-checker. And usually nothing good comes of that–especially when the media landscape as a whole continues to treat them as “serious voices.”

    (FWIW, my personal views on Greenwald are definitely more aligned with folks like Xeni Jardin, who like @mistermix, have been put through the ringer by Greenwald and crew.)

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  13. Gustopher says:

    Greenwald and Tiabbi are what happens when hatred of milquetoast corporate Democrats gets to become more important than politics. Add in some hippie punching, because everyone hates the online left, and you have people who inexplicably prop up the far right administration while claiming to be left wing.

    It’s a sad decline for Tiabbi, who used to be quite good.

    Also, The Intercept completely fucked over Reality Winner in either a display of amazing amateurism, or a desire to fuck over someone leaking documents that hurt Trump and showed the Russian connections. Greenwald and The Intercept can go fuck themselves, but apparently separately for now.

    @CSK: Michael Moore seems to be cut from a different cloth — he has consistently been warning that Democrats aren’t speaking to the plight of midwest communities and that Trump does (speak, not do). He’s right. He hasn’t gone down the anti-anti-Trump rabbit hole (unless that changed recently) — he speaks against the corporate Democrats, but seems to recognize that someone who agrees with you on 60% is better than someone who agrees with you on 20%.

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  14. grumpy realist says:

    Greenwald has turned into a drama queen: “everyone who disagrees with me is corrupt or evil!”

    Good riddance. He can set up his own blog and rant to the skies about How Corrupt Everyone Else Is. A sad case of someone who used to be a decent news reporter, but who has now gone down the narcissistic rabbit hole. Or maybe he was always that way, and people around him kept cleaning up his messes?

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  15. Andy says:

    He goes into great length about Greenwald’s long push against this conceit, helping answer the concerns I expressed earlier. At the end of the day, Greenwald is simply anti-establishment, regardless of who’s running it at any given moment.

    I think that’s accurate. One thing he’s consistent about is his skepticism (overwrought IMO) of US government power and actions generally, especially in international affairs, and the intelligence function specifically. He’s been very consistent on that while partisans have bent with changes in the wind. As others have noted, he’s also incredibly thin-skinned and can be a petty vindictive asshole. Even though I’ve strongly disagreed with GG on many things and his biases, I think the world of journalism needs more people like him and not fewer.

    Aside from his characteristic verbosity, Greenwald comes across as rather self-important in the whole thing. And, of course, being edited is not “censorship.”

    If what he states about this situation is true, then it is censorship. From the emails he released it does appear that his editors did demand that he must change the entire thrust of the piece which goes beyond mere editing, especially if what he says about his contract is accurate.

    In an atmosphere where the President and his administration lie without shame as a matter of course, and where foreign manipulation is not only routine but sought out by the President himself, it’s hardly surprising that the weird story about Hunter Biden’s laptop peddled by Rudy Giuliani was so quickly and universally rejected.

    There is, therefore, something mildly admirable about Greenwald’s contrarianism. But one understands his editors not wanting to give that story any credence at all on the eve of an election.

    Except what you’re describing is confirmation bias. Yes, I agree that the last four years have primed people – including in the media – to treat information regarding information with different degrees of skepticism depending on whose ox is gored. Add to that what appears to be a desire to overcompensate for 2016 coverage of Clinton’s emails and you have this bizarre situation with this Biden hard drive story where the non-“conservative” media suddenly creates a standard of not wanting to interfere in an election.

    Where you see and understand how editors are reluctant to give a story any credence on the eve of an election, I see a media establishment that isn’t doing its job. If the Biden piece is bullshit, the proper course of action is to expose it as bullshit and to explain why and how it is bullshit. That’s what journalists are supposed to do. It seems that many people are afraid that it might not be bullshit and therefore don’t want to touch it.

    As a practical matter, preemptively declaring the story to be bullshit and making unsupported claims that it’s only Russian propaganda, followed by avoidance lets the story fester and actually boosts its credibility. Even if editors and journalists are actually in the tank for Biden and are avoiding this for the purpose of helping him, I think it’s a mistake to think that attempting to suppress this story will actually help Biden. They learned the wrong lesson from 2016.

    Also, let’s consider a counterfactual. Suppose everything about the Biden laptop story remains exactly the same but we replace “Joe Biden” with “Donald Trump” and “Hunter Biden” with “Donald Trump Jr.” Would this story be treated any differently in that case? Would Facebook and Twitter be suppressing or flagging it as potential disinformation? Would reporters and editors be arguing that they shouldn’t give this credence so close to an election?

    I think we all know what the reality would be. Fox and the “Conservative” media would be chanting “Russia Hoax” and everyone else would be covering this story from every possible angle. And the reason would not be based on the actual evidence of the story itself, it would be solely based on priors. Again, this is not how journalism is supposed to work and it’s not how the truth is actually sussed out.

    And at the end of the day, all this does is hurt the credibility of the media and the social media, which aren’t exactly in good standing to begin with.

    6
  16. I’m not sure Greenwald is so much a Russian stooge as he is of the persuasion that anything he says that would be anti-Russian would be seized upon as justification for more hostility with Russia, much like a lot of folks on the left didn’t want to talk much about Saddam Hussein loading his political opponents into wood chippers because they thought it would amplify the justification for war with Iraq or folks on the right who pretend climate change doesn’t exist because they dislike what they see as “big government” policies that would need to be used to combat global warming.

    That’s not to excuse his behavior but I don’t think he’s on Putin’s payroll, falling more info the useful idiot camp, unlike Snowden—who is probably on the payroll, indirectly or otherwise, whether he knows it or not.

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  17. KM says:

    @Andy:

    Where you see and understand how editors are reluctant to give a story any credence on the eve of an election, I see a media establishment that isn’t doing its job. If the Biden piece is bullshit, the proper course of action is to expose it as bullshit and to explain why and how it is bullshit. That’s what journalists are supposed to do.

    Trump says sky is made of blue milk from Banthas Hunter Biden stole from a galaxy far far away. It’s a journalist’s duty to expose this bullshit and explain it – right?

    It’s not the media’s job to disprove stupidity or insanity. It’s not their job to disprove obvious lies intended to start shit days before an election when we were warned Russia was going to pull this crap. It’s not their job to indulge the crazies about their pet theories or treat deliberate false information as if it’s worth debating. Their job is NEWS, not gossip and propaganda. An editor’s job is to suss out crap and not waste the public’s time on it. A major reason the world is the way it is now is that we’ve lost that gatekeeper function so the insanity is free-flowing. A simple “is your source reliable on this?” would be sufficient to kill this crap and that’s why it’s in the editorial section, not the actual news. Not only that, an editor and paper does not and has never been obligated to print any clap-trap sent for an editorial so he doesn’t even have a leg to stand on there. Not all letters to the editor make it in, you know…..

    It seems that many people are afraid that it might not be bullshit and therefore don’t want to touch it.

    Why oh why isn’t anyone talking about Banthagate and what it says about the Bidens’ connection to illegal immigrants and foreign governments from another galaxy? Are they afraid it’s not bullshit, don’t want to touch it and expose their lib messiah for the fraud he is?

    This is a weak justification for weak logic. “Oh you’re afraid of the truth” is what all conspiracy theorists claim right after they call you a sheeple. It’s right up there with “do ur research” for people who don’t like that others aren’t buying their crap. If your story smells like shit to the point FOX News news division don’t want it, it’s very obviously shit. Nobody wants shit on their hands so yeah, they’re afraid to touch it; most sane people feel that way. It’s interesting that FOX entertainment section has a gentlemen famous for claiming he doesn’t wash his hands and that’s who is into this story……

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  18. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    If the Biden piece is bullshit, the proper course of action is to expose it as bullshit and to explain why and how it is bullshit.

    I think that there is a limit to how well one can explain how the Biden story is bullshit. To the extent that a journalist can show the manure, they have. But without full access to the laptop, it’s pretty difficult to do much but point out flaws in the story as presented.

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: That’s always one of the options, indeed.

    @CSK: Yeah. Along that line.

  20. Andy says:

    @KM:

    The problem with your argument is that this story isn’t completely vaporware or fiction. At least some of the emails have been confirmed as authentic by recipients as have at least some of the photographs. It may turn out to be much ado about nothing (I tend to think that all it will do is show Hunter to be the kind of man he’s already been shown to be and little else), but this isn’t the “Banthagate” fiction you believe it is. And considering this is about a candidate for the most powerful office on the planet, yes, I think journalism has a responsibility to exercise due diligence.

    And as a practical matter, sticking one’s head in the sand, letting “conservative” voices do all the framing and “analysis”, and letting the Streisand effect take its course doesn’t make much sense to me.

    @Kurtz:

    I think that there is a limit to how well one can explain how the Biden story is bullshit. To the extent that a journalist can show the manure, they have. But without full access to the laptop, it’s pretty difficult to do much but point out flaws in the story as presented.

    That’s why journalists have the ability to do their own investigating, use their own sources, and check the veracity of any information that does come out. News organizations regularly do not share sources with other news organizations for competitive reasons.

    The NYT, for example, recently got copies of Trump’s tax returns. As far as I’m aware they have not made them publically available nor have they shared them with other media outlets. Yet other media outlets still reported on it or demanded access before they were willing to do their own reporting.

    What we have with this Biden story isn’t a lack of ability to report on the merits of this story, it’s a lack of desire to report on it at all.

    2
  21. Tim D. says:

    @Andy: “That’s why journalists have the ability to do their own investigating, use their own sources, and check the veracity of any information that does come out.”

    Sure, but I kind of expect the big outlets are in fact reporting this behind the scenes, and we’ll eventually get more details. Silence doesn’t mean they are in the bag for Biden, it could just mean they don’t want to publish speculation.

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  22. Modulo Myself says:

    Greenwald did real work about the NSA, but the logic he’s running with is obvious tabloid bullshit. Reporting is not simply going through random emails and saying hmm, this raises questions. You can’t exonerate somebody if there’s no crime. and if there’s only suspicion and the need for more evidence, actual reporting (rather than right-wing grievance mongering) has to place the story in context. He’s like a a guy writing copy for People about how a celebrity is having problems with their marriage because they were photographed in sweats looking bored.

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  23. @Andy: I’m feeling a bit impatient with you. You seem to lack any imagination about how this tissue of lies could be constructed out of tidbits that are factual. I guess that’s why they do this stuff, because it seems credible.

    For me, its the fruit of a poison tree. Trump tried to withhold a defense appropriation from the Ukraine, in order to force it’s prime minister to announce that he was launching an investigation into Burisma. This was an egregious violation of constitutional prerogatives, which quite rightly resulted in the resignation of John Bolton and the impeachment of Trump.

    As far as I can see, this is more of the same garbage.

    But somehow we need to take seriously that “some of the emails have been verified as authentic”? That would not be hard at all, just find someone pliable to feed you some real ones and mix them in. Not hard at all.

    Never mind that Rudy Giuliani is severely tainted now, in my mind, due to his close association with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Nobody involved with this has any credibility at all.

    This tree is rotten at its roots, that the leaves still might look good doesn’t matter.

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  24. Y’all have heard the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, haven’t you?

    3
  25. KM says:

    @Andy:

    And considering this is about a candidate for the most powerful office on the planet, yes, I think journalism has a responsibility to exercise due diligence.

    No, at best it’s about his son. There is literally nothing on JOE Biden that could be seen as disqualify for office in this crap – it’s a cheap attempt at guilt by association and nepotism that is frankly laughable considering Trump’s brood is the comparison point. Hunter, Hunter, Hunter – you think that’s who’s running considering that whom this is an attack on. Even if Hunter is guilty as sin, unless JOE committed a crime beside being his father there’s nothing there. What exactly is the future POTUS supposed to have done wrong again? Other then having the last name of Biden?

    Nobody legit is touching this because it reeks of desperation with no solid angle on the real target. There’s no framing to be had here because there’s no problem outside of wingnut circles who are willing to point fingers at the Biden’s for the same crap the Trump’s do daily. Yes, some of the emails are real – including the ones disproving their whole theory because Hunter points out he wants nothing to do with this nonsense. Again, if someone had tried to run this story 20 or 30 years ago, the exact same result would have occurred because it’s tabloid speculation, not news. When FOX News – the outfit actively out to destroy the libs and crown Emperor Trump – passes on your crap, it’s terrible crap even they can’t frame. To quote Mean Girls: Stop trying to make ‘Burisma’ happen, it’s NOT going to happen!

    16
  26. wr says:

    @Andy: “If the Biden piece is bullshit, the proper course of action is to expose it as bullshit and to explain why and how it is bullshit.”

    So you’re saying every time the Trump campaign vomits up another set of lies, it is the duty of the press to give it maximum attention, whether through parroting it or disputing it? That means Trump is the assignment editor for every journalist in the country. No thanks.

    18
  27. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    The problem with your argument is that this story isn’t completely vaporware or fiction.

    Well, it is true that his name really is “Hunter Biden”. After that…

    At least some of the emails have been confirmed as authentic by recipients as have at least some of the photographs.

    This is a perfect example of the kind of fuzzy insinuation that is the problem here. “Some of the emails”… which ones? Ones with incriminating content? (Do any of them actually have incriminating content, other than being to/from specific individuals?) Or perfectly normal emails that in no way implicate anyone of anything? Clearly, it matters.

    (Setting aside, of course, the glaring problem that others have pointed out — namely, that Hunter Biden, is not running for President. The truth about Billy Carter in no way affected anyone’s understanding of Jimmy Carter’s probity. How is this different?)

    10
  28. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    I’ve been pointing out for sometime that both The Intercept and The Intercept Brasil needed an Opinion Editor, because it’s confusing how they deal with opinion and with objective reporting, there are lot of problematic opinion pieces there.

    And sometimes Greenwald looks like the guy that’s learning a second language, fails it and then begins to forget his native tongue because this Hunter Biden thing is the same playbook used against one of Brazil’s Lula children. If we have Bolsonaro was President that’s in part because of the same B.S. type of charge that they are trying to use against Biden. As a married gay man in Rio that’s something that he should have noted long time ago.

    6
  29. wr says:

    @Andy: “That’s why journalists have the ability to do their own investigating, use their own sources, and check the veracity of any information that does come out”

    That’s true. And in this case, the major news organizations did their own investigating and discovered that the “story” was total bullshit, even though you have chosen to fall for some of it. (Yes, it is a standard bit of Russian fakery to throw some real (stolen) emails onto this hard drive to “prove” that the crap they’ve manufactured is “real.”) Then they decided that since their investigation showed it was bullshit, they weren’t going to print it. You seem to think they are obligated to print it just because some particularly gullible suckers are falling for it.

    11
  30. Andy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    For me, its the fruit of a poison tree. Trump tried to withhold a defense appropriation from the Ukraine, in order to force it’s prime minister to announce that he was launching an investigation into Burisma. This was an egregious violation of constitutional prerogatives, which quite rightly resulted in the resignation of John Bolton and the impeachment of Trump.

    Yes, I agree with that. For those who may have forgotten, I thought it was completely justified to impeach Trump for that. In fact, in a comment here after that story about the “perfect call” broke, I showed how the transcript summary was retroactively and improperly reclassified by the Trump WH to try to restrict its dissemination, a piece of information and analysis I’ve yet to see anywhere else.

    But what does that have to do with the Biden laptop story? If there is some tie-in then that only proves my point that the story should be researched and reported instead of waved-away and ignored.

    But somehow we need to take seriously that “some of the emails have been verified as authentic”? That would not be hard at all, just find someone pliable to feed you some real ones and mix them in. Not hard at all.

    Never mind that Rudy Giuliani is severely tainted now, in my mind, due to his close association with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Nobody involved with this has any credibility at all.

    This tree is rotten at its roots, that the leaves still might look good doesn’t matter.

    Then it should be quick and easy to prove it’s all bullshit. Ignoring the story is letting those “tainted” actors as you call them, peddle and frame the story for their own purposes while preventing any fact-based response.

    @KM:

    There is literally nothing on JOE Biden that could be seen as disqualify for office in this crap – it’s a cheap attempt at guilt by association and nepotism that is frankly laughable considering Trump’s brood is the comparison point. Hunter, Hunter, Hunter – you think that’s who’s running considering that whom this is an attack on. Even if Hunter is guilty as sin, unless JOE committed a crime beside being his father there’s nothing there.

    I think that is probably what the final conclusion would be if this was fully investigated – which supports my point. You’re making an assertion and assuming there is no dirt on Joe, but the effect is that by refusing to examine the facts you’re denying the ability to prove what you claim to be true is actually true.

    And the fact that Trump is worse is not relevant. Journalism isn’t supposed to give one side a pass because the other side is worse. Standards are not supposed to constantly ratchet downward to the lowest denominator.

    And speaking of standards, the other problem is that I don’t see how your position can be reconciled with an objective journalistic, evidentiary, or analytical standard. If there is some neutral standard that can explain why this particular story should not be investigated to determine the actual facts, then let’s hear it.

    1
  31. KM says:

    @Andy:

    You’re making an assertion and assuming there is no dirt on Joe

    And what dirt are they asserting on Joe? What specifically are they saying he’s done?

    It sounds like you want an unsubstantiated fishing trip to try and prove a negative. Explain to me why we should be investigating a completely different individual for unspecified wrongdoing just because someone they’re related to had a nutjob accuse them of something with no solid proof. Explain to me why I can’t accuse a family member of something based on sketchy emails and then expect the media to go looking for dirt on you – that’s exactly what you are asking for. Unless you have a solid reason for JOE to be looked into for dirt other than being biologically related to HUNTER, you are asking to harass an innocent person for political reasons.

    It’s not ratcheting down anything. This is the media understanding the difference between “hmmm, there may be a story here, let’s look further” and “go find the clear lies I’m blatantly trying to pin on my political enemies using his family as the in.” Of course I assume there’s no dirt on Biden because I have no reason to do otherwise – that’s on the accuser to bring forth with proof, not tell me to go find myself. So….. stop telling the media to “do ur research” and tell us exactly what we should be suspecting Joe Biden of. What’s the dirt?

    11
  32. Andy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    This is a perfect example of the kind of fuzzy insinuation that is the problem here. “Some of the emails”… which ones? Ones with incriminating content? (Do any of them actually have incriminating content, other than being to/from specific individuals?) Or perfectly normal emails that in no way implicate anyone of anything? Clearly, it matters.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some institution or profession that could look into this and separate the fuzzy insinuation from fact; determine if there is actual incriminating content vs perfectly normal emails?

    @wr:

    Then they decided that since their investigation showed it was bullshit, they weren’t going to print it. You seem to think they are obligated to print it just because some particularly gullible suckers are falling for it.

    That makes no sense at all. So you’re alleging that some news organization(s) investigated, determined the facts, found that “it was all bullshit” and then, after doing all that investigative work, decided not to publish? Why would any news organization do that? What is your evidence for this? Which news organization(s) did this?

    even though you have chosen to fall for some of it.

    Out of curiosity, what makes you think I’ve “chosen to fall for it?” I’ve pretty plainly stated here that I think the allegations against Joe are unlikely to be true.

    2
  33. dazedandconfused says:

    I applaud journalists who can reveal evil plots, but on the government surveillance issue he revealed nothing illegal, he merely informed those ignorant of the structure of that surveillance about it. That stuff had been approved by Congress and George W Bush proudly stated, essentially, that ‘we will get everything’ to a standing ovation at his post-911 SOTU address. There was some marginal mis-information from the likes of Brenner, Comey, and Hayden, but IMO most of that can be attributed to the hard dilemma of describing something publicly about which one has sworn not to reveal details. While I feel sure those practices will someday be abused (and must end) no evidence of gross abuse has yet come to light. There were some tweeks made in the system but nobody has been indicted, or even fired. That system of surveillance has since been re-certified by Congress. Greenwald uncovered…nothing.

    A nothing for which Snowden and that private paid dearly. Greenwald’s lack of professionalism and street smarts got his sources busted or trapped in Russia. That didn’t happen to Seymore Hersh’s sources.

    I applaud Greewald’s courage but damn his messianic complex.

    6
  34. al Ameda says:

    @Andy:

    As a practical matter, preemptively declaring the story to be bullshit and making unsupported claims that it’s only Russian propaganda, followed by avoidance lets the story fester and actually boosts its credibility. Even if editors and journalists are actually in the tank for Biden and are avoiding this for the purpose of helping him, I think it’s a mistake to think that attempting to suppress this story will actually help Biden. They learned the wrong lesson from 2016.

    So, if Rudy goes public and says something like, ‘many high level people are saying that Hunter Biden and Joe Biden trafficked children.’ So, it’s the duty of the press to chase the story down and disprove it? How is is this different from asking Joe Biden directly, ‘are you still trafficking children?

    11
  35. Andy says:

    @KM:

    And what dirt are they asserting on Joe? What specifically are they saying he’s done?

    Is this a rhetorical question? Because it seems a bit strange for you to ask what the allegations are after spending the last several comments basically stating that the allegations are bullshit.

    Anyway, the allegation, as I understand it, is that Joe was part of a Hunter-arranged deal with a Chinese bank and that Joe himself stood to gain a 10% cash/equity stake in the deal.

    I’d like to reiterate that I’m extremely skeptical of this allegation. But skepticism doesn’t mean it should be waved-away as Russian disinformation – particularly since there does not (yet) appear to be any evidence that it is actually Russian disinformation. And regardless, if it is Russian disinformation, that is all the more reason to find the actual facts so that it can be proven to actually be Russian disinformation.

    Explain to me why I can’t accuse a family member of something based on sketchy emails and then expect the media to go looking for dirt on you – that’s exactly what you are asking for.

    If I were running for President that is exactly what I would expect. And I would also expect that the institution (journalism) that is supposed to inform the public about what is true and false would investigate and report the facts on any such accusation.

    Of course I assume there’s no dirt on Biden because I have no reason to do otherwise – that’s on the accuser to bring forth with proof, not tell me to go find myself. So….. stop telling the media to “do ur research” and tell us exactly what we should be suspecting Joe Biden of. What’s the dirt?

    I’m not expecting that you or I should go find anything, and I’m not criticizing you for assuming there’s no dirt on Biden. After all, I’m also assuming there’s no dirt on Biden, and today I turned in my ballot which has my vote for Joe Biden. I’ve put my money where my mouth is. But our assumptions are not evidence and they are not an excuse for the press to not do its job.

    So to be clear my position is that the media should do its job and determine what the actual facts are. Most of the media resolved to not do that the instant this story came out and will not even bother to ask Joe Biden for comment. The problem with this situation from my perspective is that the media is abdicating its responsibility.

    2
  36. steve says:

    Andy- 2 things. First, rudy and company have supposedly had this information for months. They release it a couple of weeks before the election then criticize media of not covering it, but it will take weeks to track everything down and ascertain what is true or not. So this has all of the hallmarks of campaign propaganda.

    Second, journalists have gone looking for stuff to verify the leaked claims. They have gone to alternate sources to try to verify the claims made. For example, the WSJ (a right leaning source) had its news room investigate and in their initial findings they could not corroborate the claims made by Rudy et al and they could find no linkage to Biden himself.

    So failure to report the initial story until they have fully investigated makes sense to me. PLUS, we know that all of the claims made by conservatives fail to materialize. Unmasking? Nothing. The Durham investigation? Nothing. Benghazi? Nothing Lost Lerner? Nothing. Once the conservatives actually find some real scandal once or twice maybe then they deserve early coverage.

    Steve

    9
  37. Andy says:

    @al Ameda:

    So, if Rudy goes public and says something like, ‘many high level people are saying that Hunter Biden and Joe Biden trafficked children.’ So, it’s the duty of the press to chase the story down and disprove it? How is is this different from asking Joe Biden directly, ‘are you still trafficking children?

    Donald Trump has been saying and tweeting crazy things for over four years and yet somehow the press has found the time and energy to refute and fact-check all of it. Even the really stupid stuff.

    So if Rudy did say that then I’m very confident the press would disprove it and write stories about how there was no evidence to support Rudy’s allegation because that’s literally what they’ve been doing for four years.

    2
  38. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    So to be clear my position is that the media should do its job and determine what the actual facts are. Most of the media resolved to not do that the instant this story came out and will not even bother to ask Joe Biden for comment. The problem with this situation from my perspective is that the media is abdicating its responsibility.

    The WSJ investigated the story and found that Joe Biden that had no involvement with the venture. That’s the end of the story right there, unless there’s more facts. Another big fat fucking zero, which was obvious from the get-go.

    9
  39. KM says:

    @Andy:

    So to be clear my position is that the media should do its job and determine what the actual facts are.

    But they did – this is where we’re differing. They determined that the story came from completely batshit individuals peddling an extremely unlikely, hole-ridden story and had no real proof. It couldn’t stand the sniff test for *anyone*. If something sounds absurd to you, why would you do a deep dive to prove it’s dumb? What are the chances that something that looks like a scam really isn’t, especially when being pushed by people who’ve pushed similar scams in the past?

    As @Jay noted, this is Boy Who Cried Wolf. There needs to be a reason to invest time and resources into something and no one can justify that on this story, not even the conservatives. It’s theoretically possible there’s dirt but the chances of it are extremely slim. The chances that the dirt’s on the future POTUS instead of his kid is even slimmer. The deal’s not illegal – months and months of efforts all over the world hasn’t found any. They certainly aren’t claiming actual illegal behavior with this or it would have been dropped off with the cops for arrest, not send UPS. So if it’s not illegal, the best one can hope to claim in the end is unethical behavior on Biden Sr’s part……. when Trump is unethical every hour on the hour.

    What’s the point? What’s the gain? What’s the story? It’s pretty damn obvious there isn’t going to be an explosive expose. There isn’t going to be a Comey letter and vast influence on the election. Who’s going to waste precious lead time to the election to “verify facts” when there’s a 99.9999% we already have the facts? I suppose someone’s willing to jump down that rabbit hole but frankly if it looks like a duck, it’s a duck. Most news outlets have better things to do than nit-pick this to death.

    9
  40. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    I don’t see why it’s an “interesting irony” that the previous administration and people like Maddow thought Russia was no longer a major threat, but have changed their tune after all the evidence showed up about how they f—ed with the US in the 2016 election, the Brits with the Brexit vote, and resumed assassinations on foreign soil. Hack writers think they’re scoring a dumb ass point because someone who said something years before the current situation played out now says something different. Whereas (as someone famous put it): “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?”

    Andy, you seem to be operating under a misunderstanding. It has been reported multiple places that news organizations did in fact investigate the Biden laptop story, and decided it was BS. Up to and including Fox News and the Wall St Journal. They did not just choose to ignore it. You are basically demanding that news organization publish allegations they have researched and already determined are unjustified, even if just to debunk it. It’s literally never worked that way, nor should it. All it would do is encourage BSers to submit more BS and introduce more chaos and frustration into our flailing system with the goal of driving voter disengagement and withdrawal.

    Not that debunking BS seems to do much good anyway. How many lies by Trump has WaPo faithfully documented and published in the last 4 years? To zero noticeable impact?

    11
  41. grumpy realist says:

    @Andy: They already did that. The WSJ and Fox News looked into the allegations, decided it was a nothing-burger, and decided to not swim in the muck. Good for them.

    (I suggest you read Thinking, Fast and Slow by David Kammerman to discover why published stories which claim to prove Not X get remembered by people as having proven X.)

    10
  42. Loviatar says:

    Andy is trying to use the Her Emails tactic. He doesn’t really believe there is anything nefarious with the Hunter Biden story, he just wants to dirty the water around Joe Biden. This is an attempt to repeat what they did to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    Andy are you the single issue (2nd Ammendment) commenter I remember from pre 2016? If so its surprising to see you comment on something non gun related.

    4
  43. Kurtz says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    How many lies by Trump has WaPo faithfully documented and published in the last 4 years? To zero noticeable impact?

    At least one of the impacts is noticeable:

    Biden’s non-volatile polling lead.

    2
  44. Lounsbury says:

    @mistermix: Bah, Tiaibbi’s financial sector reporting has always been sh*te that demonstrated he’s an innumerate conspiracy mongerer first and foremost. He and Greenwald have always been conspiracy mongerers. They’ve just happened to play into the various prejudices Left and Right among writers and commentariat here (variously).

    3
  45. al Ameda says:

    @Andy:
    You seem to be ignoring the very relevant and obvious fact that Rudy Giuliani had this stuff many weeks before he dropped this bag of dogsh** on the media door step. Now, with very little time to hunt this story down, the media is somehow expected to go around the world (Russia, Ukraine, LA, Delaware, China) to confirm or disprove this story? That’s exactly what Rudy was looking for – a 2016-level distraction to derail the Democratic Party effort to win the presidency.

    6
  46. Lounsbury says:

    @Andy: In fact the story is a classic work of Russian intelligence, including faked personae mixed in with real emails .

    From the Article
    “The author of the document, a self-identified Swiss security analyst named Martin Aspen, is a fabricated identity, according to analysis by disinformation researchers, who also concluded that Aspen’s profile picture was created with an artificial intelligence face generator. The intelligence firm that Aspen lists as his previous employer said that no one by that name had ever worked for the company and that no one by that name lives in Switzerland, according to public records and social media searches.”

    There is something deeply pathetic in the way in which the American Right has degenerated to be the willing, even eager dupe of Russian intelligence operations.

    2
  47. mattbernius says:

    @Loviatar:
    Andy had never been a single issue commenter. I am not sure who you are thinking of — possibly Matt (the other one), and he also isn’t a single issue commenter either (though he has strong and well grounded options on gun rights).

    3
  48. Kurtz says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Yes, bah!

  49. Grewgills says:

    @Loviatar:
    While I don’t agree w Andy on this point, for reasons pointed out by grumpy realist and others, that is not his MO. He is generally center right (or maybe center left in our new paradigm where the right has fallen further into crazy town) and makes good faith arguments.
    Agree with him or not he’s not a bad faith commentator and certainly not what you’re describing.

    That said, Andy, if Fox News and WSJ both decided that it had too little there to run with despite it being something they’d push if it had even a fig leaf of legitimacy I think we can safely put this in the same bag as all of the other half assed Rudy mud slinging.

    3
  50. Michael Reynolds says:

    Andy is engaged in the loser shuffle. Once it’s pretty clear that the bunker is surrounded by T-34’s it’s time to look for a face-saving way out. Dave ‘Good German’ Schuler is over at his blog very excited – in a way he somehow has not been over the last four years of corruption – about Hunter Biden. Drew/keef/Theon comes rushing over to peddle Giuliani’s bullshit, and now here’s Andy.

    They cling to this piece of bamboo like it’s the last life boat, they need something, anything, no matter how desperate, to distract from what they have done to this country. They need a ‘you too,’ and the simple fact is they got nothin’.

    Andy: don’t ever talk about corruption. You don’t talk about corruption the way a Saudi man doesn’t talk about feminism. You Trumpies and Trump collaborators have nothing to say on morality, ethics or common decency, ever. Ever. Til the end of time.

    6
  51. Anonne says:

    Andy, you’re doing yeoman’s work.

    People are acting as if the unseemly yet legal soft corruption isn’t a thing, or has never been reported on. All these emails do, at best, is fill in the blanks a little more. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/08/02/joe-biden-investigation-hunter-brother-hedge-fund-money-2020-campaign-227407

    The media should do its job to sort out what is true in the news; that does not mean that they should rush anything before verifying. Don’t report what you can’t verify, but do your job. Don’t just throw up your hands because you think it’s all bullshit. It’s your job to sort the stuff out, and report on what is true.

    People leak information, often illegally obtained, to the press all the time. But Biden is supposed to get special treatment, and news outlets are censored on social media? That just gives the impression that both the media and tech companies are in the tank for Biden. If the media will be as adversarial with Biden as president as they are with Trump, they will be doing us a service. It would be nice if they were as adversarial with Biden as they are with Trump now, but that’s obviously wishful thinking.

  52. Jax says:

    “Twitter blocking the New York Post” does not mean, in any way, shape or form, that reputable news sources haven’t investigated, and their (multiple, but limited by source materials not being present to actually verify) investigations have thus far not found anything beyond CRAP spewing out of Rudy Giuliani’s butthole. “A Security Expert” verifying the emails could be the same blind guy he took the laptop to, for all we know. It’s like Anonymous claiming he’s a bigshot, “Security Expert” could be some guy in his Mom’s basement who’s only a “Security Expert” on Call of Duty.

    Also, that whole thing about China? Reputable news organizations have also been investigating Wilbur Ross and Donald Trump et al for their dealings with China, where’s Tucker Carlson’s “outrage” over that? Why aren’t they (the Faux News outrage machine) covering it?!?! I mean, HE COULD BE COMPROMISED!!! (Gasping, falling into my fainting chair)

    2
  53. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @dazedandconfused:

    A nothing for which Snowden and that private paid dearly. Greenwald’s lack of professionalism and street smarts got his sources busted or trapped in Russia. That didn’t happen to Seymore Hersh’s sources.

    Yes. It would have been relatively easy to have kept Snowden in the hidden and then only reveal him in a safe country that did not have an extradition treaty with the US or that wouldn’t be willing to extradite him.

    The two biggest investigative journalism successes of Greenwald’s career involved hackers or people that got confidential information and then handed him the data. Snowden is trapped in Russia. The Brazilian hackers that handed him information about Operation Lava Jato/Car Wash in Brazil were also arrested and are in prison.

    2
  54. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Andy: Well, I see you resolved your dilemma of voting for–to vote against a candidate. Good for you.

    For the record though–I believe the “media” did do its job. Voters have all the information they want on the Hunter Biden/Joe Biden story at their fingertips. It just not at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc–but its certainly discoverable.

    I find many of the angst people have about what “the media” covers really is about that outlet or similar outlets not covering stories they feel are important or approach the stories from angle they want emphasized.

    Shorter: Conservative-leaning people believe MSNBC should be like Fox news and Liberals believe Fox should be like MSNBC. That’s never going to happen because advertisers want to sell things to both types of viewers.

    3
  55. James Joyner says:

    @Loviatar: @Loviatar:

    Andy is trying to use the Her Emails tactic. He doesn’t really believe there is anything nefarious with the Hunter Biden story, he just wants to dirty the water around Joe Biden.

    I think he’s legitimately just saying that the press dismissed the latest story too quickly as Russian agitprop. Hell, I probably did that given the context in which it came (i.e., four-plus years of Trump Inc-Russia comingling).

    I think Burisma is a big nothingburger. It’s way less than “her emails,” which was a legitimate story that dragged on too long. It’s even less than the Clinton Foundation. It got investigated hard by a Republican-controlled Senate. Trump got impeached trying to get the Ukrainians to provide dirt. It’s a dry well.

    I think the larger story of Hunter Biden cashing in is a legitimate scandal. But it’s a scandal of the system, not of personal corruption of Joe Biden.

    4
  56. Andy says:

    There are a lot of replies as I return to this thread this morning, but there is also an update from my end.

    Last evening after watching the Mandalorian I decided to do my own research prompted in large part by the comment from grumpy realist who stated that Fox and the WSJ had looked at this allegation. So I spend a couple of hours reviewing all the reporting I could find on this, including the reporting from Fox and the WSJ, and have come to the following:

    To put the main conclusion upfront – there’s no evidence that Joe Biden had any involvement in this deal with a Chinese company.

    Now for the details:

    – The deal discussed by the NYP and the emails referencing it are real. Members of the Biden family, Hunter and Joe’s brother Jim, did make a deal with a Chinese firm that included three Biden family associates: Rob Walker, James Gillar, and Tony Bobulinski. This is not a made-up story or Russian propaganda, it was a real business deal.

    – The question, therefore, hinges on whether Joe Biden was involved since that is the allegation and, if true, would contradict Joe Biden’s statements that he never had anything to do with Hunter’s or his family’s business dealings.

    – The NYP story and Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, both allege that Joe Biden was a secret party to this deal. They base that on an email that explains how the cash and shares would be divided up among them. Hunter got his own 20% share, and the other principles are listed with their own shares. However, there is one additional 10% share that the email states will be “held by H for the Big Guy.” The NYP and Bobulinksy allege that “the big guy” is Joe Biden. “H” is Hunter as that’s how he’s referred to elsewhere in the emails.

    – There is no evidence to suggest who “the big guy” is, nor is there evidence that the share arrangments discussed in this email were ever made official. It’s a reasonable inference to suggest “the big guy” might be Joe Biden, but absent anything else, that inference is insufficient.

    – Bobulinsky claims it was arranged this way so that Joe Biden’s fingerprints wouldn’t be on the deal and he’d therefore have plausible deniability. He also claims that this and other deals he was involved with the Biden family were “family deals” that inherently included the whole Biden family including Joe. But if you read and parse what he says carefully, he never actually and directly states that Joe was a knowing party to this deal, which I think is a relevant and telling omission in light of the other evidence.

    – The WSJ and Fox News seem to be the only two news organizations (that I can find at least) that made any effort to try to independently validate the NYP reporting and Bobulinsky’s allegations. They used sources other than the Biden laptop including text messages provided by Bobulinsky, talking to one of the other principles, James Gillar, as well as reviewing regulatory and legal filings.

    – James Gillar, who was a party to this deal, directly refutes Bobulinski’s claims. He told the WSJ, “I am unaware of any involvement at any time of the former vice president” and he later added: “The activity in question never delivered any project revenue.”

    – Neither Fox nor the WSJ found any evidence of Joe Biden’s involvement in the project – as Fox puts it: “records for all stages of company negotiations show no role for Joe Biden.”

    – Since the deal went bankrupt quickly and never made any money it’s for certain that Biden did not benefit even if he was a secret partner. The quick bankruptcy also means it’s not possible to trace any money.

    -The FBI is doing some kind of investigation on all of this. I didn’t look very hard, but there don’t seem to be any significant details on its scope or progress, much less any conclusions. And no one seems to be leaking information, unlike some other investigations.

    So my conclusion after this research justifies my original skepticism in this story. There’s nothing here based on all the information I’ve reviewed. While we can’t disprove Joe Biden’s involvement, proving a negative is never an appropriate evidentiary standard – those making allegations need to prove their allegations in all cases, and the NYP, Bobulinsky and Trump supporters generally have not done that – not even close.

    To round things up and tie things into the earlier discussion in this thread, I think this highlights the problems I’ve tried to explain here regarding the media’s handling of this story. There simply is no legitimate reason for the vast majority of the media to preemptively write this story off as Russian propaganda. And there is certainly zero basis for anyone at this point to claim this is some kind of Russian plot. Just like there is zero evidence against Joe Biden here, there is also zero evidence of Russian involvement.

    The various excuses presented in this thread for why the media either could not or should not cover this story I think are shown to be without merit. It was definitely possible to check this story out and present the facts to the public – and those facts show the allegations against Joe Biden have no merit.

    That I had to spend a couple of hours to wade through multiple competing sources of information to get all the relevant facts and reporting illustrates the problem I’ve tried to explain in this thread – the media’s job is to do that work, especially for a Presidential candidate. This is not something anyone else would do except for weird people like me. The majority of the public relies on fair, full and accurate media reporting and in this case the media failed miserably. There are millions and maybe even tens-of-millions of people out there who are certain this all just Russian lies or are certain that these allegations are actually proven. And after two weeks of this shit-show, and social media algorithms working their dark magic, there is probably no change to show or convince any of them of the actual truth.

    There are also two ironies here:

    1. I could have done this research much faster if the reporting on this story wasn’t being actively suppressed by social media and search engines. I had to go through NYP website manually to find their reporting, and the WSJ and Fox articles only came up in searches when I used very specific terms that were in those specific articles. The various attempts to minimize this reporting along with how the search algorithms work has therefore made it more difficult for even well-meaning or skeptical people to discover the actual truth.

    2. The irony that Fox and the WSJ – two news organizations widely criticized by liberals for a conservative bias – were the only ones that not only bothered to do any due diligence but were also the ones who punched the biggest holes in this allegation.

    All the wasted efforts to ignore or suppress this story has done is allow it to persist for weeks when it should have been put to bed in one or two news cycles. There is and was nothing to fear from investigating and finding the facts in this case and I think my position that the media generally failed to do their jobs still stands.

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  57. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s unfortunate your dishonesty and vindictive behavior hasn’t changed much.

    For those playing along who may not know the history, Michael and I have been debating on the same forums for 15+ years starting with, IIRC, The Moderate Voice but mostly there at OTB. Michael also used to be a regular over at Dave Schuler’s place and even met Dave in person once, although now all Michale does is compare Dave to Nazi collaborators. Quite a change.

    Anyway, over that time we’ve had our fair share of disagreements, as would be expected as we sit on different sides of some issues. But we’ve also had a lot of agreements on other issues and presumably still do. Occasionally we even appear to get along and he acts like a decent human being.

    But over the past several years Michael has changed from mere disagreement to outright lies combined with petty name-calling about a number of things – what I believe, positions I hold, but also positions Michael imagines I hold but actually don’t, and for the thought-crime of expressing skepticism and contrarianism about things he believes there should be no skepticism about. His comment here is a good example of the last one. He also regularly makes of personal attacks on my character and integrity that are equally without merit.

    Despite the prohibition against the use of such personal attacks in this website’s code of conduct, no one has challenged or even pushed back against Michael’s behavior and dishonesty – and as you can see from the upvotes he receives for his dishonest and vindictive comments about me personally, there are a lot of closet supporters here who approve of Michael’s lies but are too cowardly to voice their opinions openly.

    But that is all fine, I’m happy and willing to defend myself whenever Michael engages in this behavior.

    And unlike Michael, I don’t presume to know what is going on in his head, what he truly believes, or what his motivations are. Also unlike Michael, I’ve never reciprocated his behavior back at him. I haven’t called him a bad American, haven’t compared him to pedophiles and Nazis, haven’t told him he’s stupid or that what he believes is evil. I haven’t suggested that Michael’s views are not honestly held, and I’ve never brought up his gender, age, ethnicity or skin color to attack his character or his arguments. All these are things Michael done over the years when responding to me and their regularity has only increased..

    When asked to provide evidence for his claims about me, Michael never provides any because there is none. He hasn’t yet specifically mentioned it in this thread, but one of his frequent claims over the last year is that I’m a secret Trump supporter and that I am more forgiving of Trump than I was of Obama when he was President. Again, like so much else he says about me, this is absurdly false as anyone who has read my positions on Trump and Obama here over the years would know. But that’s been Michael’s MO for a long time now.

    I do not accuse people of dishonestly lightly, but here there is no other explanation given the long historical record of what I’ve written here and elsewhere and well as the various times I’ve actually taken the time to try to “prove the negative” by showing him all the examples that prove his fictional claims are false. This has been a wasted effort that has not affected his behavior so I think there is no alternative explanation but to conclude that Michael is a liar when it comes to his disparaging comments about me. And as long as Michael persists in this behavior, I will continue to call him out on it.

    I will also ask you again Michael, as I have many times before, to stop your vindictive and dishonest behavior toward me. And I’ll reiterate my pledge that I won’t reciprocate beyond defending myself from your false and defamatory accusations.

  58. Andy says:

    @Lounsbury:

    @Andy: In fact the story is a classic work of Russian intelligence, including faked personae mixed in with real emails .

    The story I’ve been talking about is the Hunter Biden laptop story. The Typhoon – fake analyst story is related only in the sense of being another ratfucking operation designed to discredit Joe Biden. But Typhoon is actually a different story than the laptop story the NYP reported. There is no evidence (that’s yet been presented) that the laptop story is a Russian fabrication.

    As for Typhoon being a Russian op, I’ll take your word for it. I’m frankly out of energy and have no desire to do more independent research and fact-checking.

    Tuesday can’t come soon enough.

  59. Andy says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    @Andy: Well, I see you resolved your dilemma of voting for–to vote against a candidate. Good for you.

    Thanks Jim.

    Once Biden was nominated there really was no dilemma. I thought I had made it plain that I would vote for Biden if he got the nomination, although I would have preferred a younger moderate candidate (Hickenlooper from my home state was my top choice, but at least I’ll get him as one of my Senators).

    My dilemma was really about the prospect of a Sanders nomination which was fortunately avoided.

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  60. Andy says:

    All,

    I don’t really have time to respond to any more comments, so my apologies and please don’t take it personally if I didn’t respond to your counterpoint. Feel free to have the last word and explain your disagreements for posterity.

    With the exception of Michael and Loviatar I genuinely appreciate that everyone’s been civil. I fully expected that wading into this thread on this subject so close to the election would generate a lot of personal hostility, but I’m glad it didn’t. Despite my semi-annual criticisms of OTB, this really is a special place. I only need to go to LGM or pretty much any of the right-wing sites to remind me of that.

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  61. de stijl says:

    I reckoned Greenwald was a douche and sketchy on sourcing during the Bush years before he moved to Brazil. Think-skinned. Narcissistic and self-righteous. Super aggro on those who disagreed.

    What should have been twenty words took two hundred. What should have been five paragraphs was 23.

    Messianic gasbag from day one.

    And that was when he was a purported “ally”.

    Screw this nonsense. Good riddance.