Hunter Biden’s Laptop

New evidence changes the story ever so slightly.

This is a photo of a laptop computer. It is almost certainly not Hunter Biden’s.

I have not paid much attention to the doings of the President’s sole surviving son in the last few months but I gathered from a couple of tweets from conservatives that there has been some new Aha! moment. Outkick‘s Anthony Farris (“18 MONTHS LATER, NEW YORK TIMES CONFIRMS HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP STORY“) has the only longish write-up I could find.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good non-story. That’s the approach the New York Times took the last 18 months, until today, when the Times finally admitted that Hunter Biden’s laptop of depravity, secrets and lies is in fact real. As real as Hunter’s shady business dealings with China.

Despite previously dismissing stories surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop as “unsubstantiated” for the last year and a half, the New York Times reluctantly admitted that prosecutors are now diving into Biden’s laptop and the claims that he used his father’s political positions as a way to secure funds in return for access to his father and some favorable business dealings.

Of course, prosecutors “looking into” something is not at all the save as evidence that said thing took place.

The Times’ story, which is conveniently buried 20+ pages deep into Thursday’s paper, details the relationship between Hunter Biden and business partner Devon Archer and Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. The New York Post first uncovered and documented this story back in the fall of 2020.

“People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity,” states the Times. “Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.”

Archer has already been convicted and sentenced on a charge of felony securities fraud.

Okay. But if one actually goes back to the original charges, the contention was that the younger Biden was being paid off in exchange for influencing his then-Vice President father to secure the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor going after Burisma. The Times has confirmed this actually happened? Big if true.

Until Thursday, the Times, President Biden, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and seemingly all of the Democrat Party dismissed claims that the Hunter Biden laptop ever existed, or if it did, that it was merely an example of Russian misinformation.

That Hunter Biden owned a laptop is not exactly a smoking gun. Why, I myself own three laptops. And, in full disclosure, I’m typing this post on one right now.

Conveniently and predictably, the New York Times decided to make news of Hunter Biden’s laptop story and its authenticity a year and a half after his father took office. Never mind that the facts initially relayed by the New York Post haven’t changed.

The facts of the past don’t change. But the evidence of what happened does. So, for example, the Post story in question was simply incredibly shady. Some unknown person gave Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s stooge, a laptop. And he found some PDFs of one side of what purported to be an email conversation between Biden and Burisma representatives. And it wasn’t Biden’s side.

Not wanting to admit their error, the New York Times still found a way to shift away from the main point of the story — Hunter Biden’s illegal dealings with businesses from across the pond because of his father’s name and pending position. Instead, they pointed out that Biden had recently caught up on unpaid taxes. How noble.

You better dive deep into Hunter and his laptop today, because if the New York Times and liberal media have taught us anything, it’s that this will quickly become yesterday’s news.

Well, I shan’t further delay then.

The Times story in question (“Hunter Biden Paid Tax Bill, but Broad Federal Investigation Continues“) is dated the 16th but was published in the print version yesterday morning. As I read this, it’s still up. But you’ll note that the headline is in title case rather than the ALL CAPS used by Outkick. So, right away, you can tell they’re trying to hide something.

Here are what I judge to be the key bits of the report:

But Mr. Biden’s taxes are just one element of the broader investigation stemming from work he did around the world. Hunter Biden is a Yale-educated lawyer; his professional life has intersected with his father’s public service, including working as a registered lobbyist for domestic interests and, while his father was vice president, pursuing deals and clients in Asia and Europe.

As recently as last month, the federal grand jury heard testimony in Wilmington, Del., from two witnesses, one of whom was a former employee of Hunter Biden whose lawyer was later subpoenaed for financial records that reflected money Mr. Biden received from a Ukrainian energy company.

[…]

But prosecutors face a number of hurdles to bringing criminal charges, the people familiar with the investigation said, including proving that Mr. Biden intentionally violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires disclosure to the Justice Department of lobbying or public relations assistance on behalf of foreign clients.

[…]

For President Biden, the long-running case is both politically and personally fraught. Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company, became a flashpoint in his father’s race in 2020 against President Donald J. Trump and helped set off the events that led to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.

The elder Mr. Biden now oversees the Justice Department that is carrying out the investigation.

[…]

The investigation is being overseen by David C. Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware. He worked in the office during the Bush and Obama administrations, and was nominated to run it by Mr. Trump. Mr. Weiss has been permitted to remain in office until the Biden case is resolved.

[…]

Investigators have examined Mr. Biden’s relationships with interests in Kazakhstan, a Chinese energy conglomerate and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, according to people familiar with the investigation.

They said prosecutors had investigated payments and gifts Mr. Biden or his associates had received from foreign interests, including a vehicle paid for using funds from a company associated with a Kazakh oligarch and a diamond from a Chinese energy tycoon. Prosecutors also sought documents related to corporate entities through which Mr. Biden and his associates conducted business with interests around the world.

But there has been debate within the Justice Department over whether the available evidence proves that Mr. Biden intended to violate FARA, which the government must prove in order to secure a criminal conviction. The prosecutors have discussed approaching potential FARA violations as a civil matter, which would require Mr. Biden to register retroactively as a foreign agent, but would avoid criminal charges, according to the people familiar with the case.

In fairness to Farris, the most interesting-to-me part does come quite deep into the report:

Last year, prosecutors interviewed Mr. Archer and subpoenaed him for documents and grand jury testimony, the people said. Mr. Archer, who was sentenced last month in an unrelated securities fraud case in which a decision to set aside his conviction was reversed, had served with Mr. Biden on Burisma’s board, starting in 2014.

People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity. Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.

In some of the emails, Mr. Biden displayed a familiarity with FARA, and a desire to avoid triggering it.

In one email to Mr. Archer in April 2014, Mr. Biden outlined his vision for working with Burisma. In the email, Hunter Biden indicated that the forthcoming announcement of a trip to Ukraine by Vice President Biden — who is referred to in the email as “my guy,” but not by name — should “be characterized as part of our advice and thinking — but what he will say and do is out of our hands.”

The announcement “could be a really good thing or it could end up creating too great an expectation. We need to temper expectations regarding that visit,” Hunter Biden wrote.

Vice President Biden traveled to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, about a week after the email.

In the same April 2014 email, Hunter Biden indicated that Burisma’s officials “need to know in no uncertain terms that we will not and cannot intervene directly with domestic policymakers, and that we need to abide by FARA and any other U.S. laws in the strictest sense across the board.”

[…]

In another set of emails examined by prosecutors, Hunter Biden and Mr. Archer discussed inviting foreign business associates, including a Burisma executive, to a dinner in April 2015 at a Washington restaurant where Vice President Biden would stop by. It is not clear whether the Burisma executive attended the dinner, although the vice president did make an appearance, according to people familiar with the event.

This new information only modestly changes my thinking on the matter. In my September 2019 post, “Hunter Biden’s Socially Acceptable Corruption,” I lamented the younger Biden’s leveraging the fact of his father’s powerful post to enrich himself but noted it was likely all perfectly legal. It’s now possible that he violated FARA. At the very least, he—a Yale-trained lawyer who has spent his life around power—was well aware that he was skirting its edges.

At the same time, the emails seem very much to confirm my impression of the elder Biden. He not only did absolutely nothing that in any way violated the public trust to help enrich his son but he had, either specifically with regard to this case or in the way he’d raised his sons, made it abundantly clear that he would never think to do so.

While I am the first to dismiss comparisons with his predecessor, as though Trump’s corruption is the bar by which we should judge our public servants, it’s really worth doing so in this one instance. After all, it was Trump and his cronies who were pushing this scandal to the press. And, of course, Trump himself was impeached for actually pressuring the Ukrainian government to do things for his own private benefit.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Europe, Law and the Courts, Media, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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. Jen says:

    If we’re going to do this, I certainly hope that we start looking at the progeny of US Senators. We can start with the offspring of Sens. Blunt and Manchin, and go from there.

    I don’t think any of this speaks to any deep corruption, just the garden variety “it’s who you know” corruption that is about as old as time.

    15
  2. drj says:

    So there is no news about any specific wrongdoing?

    And this is being reported and amplified right now?

    Lots of conservatives continue to be Putin’s useful idiots (being charitable here, actually). Gotta do something to keep dead Ukrainians off the front page, I guess.

    11
  3. wr says:

    Hunter Biden’s email, as you quoted it, has him saying this is the law and we must not violate it. Which you then characterize as “skirting the edges of the law.”

    Isn’t that like saying that someone who sets his cruise control at 55 in a 55 zone is skirting the edges of the law, because he’s staying right below the point where he’d be breaking it?

    25
  4. drj says:

    After having read this post a second time, this is the “new evidence,” really?

    In some of the emails, Mr. Biden displayed a familiarity with FARA, and a desire to avoid triggering it.

    It’s one thing to be a foreign agent in practice and trying to skirt the reporting requirements and quite another to try not be a foreign agent in the first place.

    Apparently, an investigation led by a Trump appointee is doesn’t succeed in making the case that we’re dealing with the first scenario.

    And that’s news?

    Most people would agree that these rats are utterly beyond fucking by now.

    10
  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    I find Hunter Biden stories wonderfully soporific. Granted I woke up too early and the coffee had not kicked in with full force, but as I struggled to read this piece I kept nodding off. I do not feel that we have answered the essential Hunter Biden question, which is, who gives a fuck?

    27
  6. JohnSF says:

    Sweet gawd, this sod is harder to kill off than Count Dracula.
    “Hey, you’re dead, dammit! Lie down!”

    2
  7. rachel says:

    @drj: The rats called. They want cigarettes, and then they want paid.

    2
  8. Mikey says:

    And, of course, Trump himself was impeached for actually pressuring the Ukrainian government to do things for his own private benefit.

    As it always is with Trump: every accusation is in fact a confession.

    8
  9. Modulo Myself says:

    I’ll point out that Whitewater was the same non-story. Bill Clinton was ripped off by Jim McDougal, and somehow that launched two special prosecutors, endless investigation and NY Times coverage and eventually the Monica Lewinsky. This story has rightfully gone nowhere, and conservatives are livid.

    11
  10. Kathy says:

    Have you any idea how much time and resources hyping up the Biden laptop story takes from more important things like stealing elections and destroying democracy?

    That’s why they so fervently wish the Times would take it off their hands.

    6
  11. inhumans99 says:

    To me, the only thing this update to the Biden Laptop story reveals is that there is literally nothing there, like zip, zilch, nada, nada, just a big void of nothing there. Hunter being cognizant that he and his colleagues need to be careful and on the up and up in how they conduct business is a great thing indeed.

    He does not want to be a corrupt individual if he can avoid it, how does that make the laptop story a negative against Biden?

    if only we had emails from Trump saying that he wants to be on the up and up in how he conducts business, because he is aware it could land him in hot water with the law and he would prefer not to wallow in corruption, but yet that is exactly what Trump and his friends do.

    Trying to pretend Hunter Biden is anywhere within a thousand miles of being on the same corrupt plank as Trump and friends is the textbook definition of twisting yourself into knots to connect one thing to another when anyone can plainly see there is no there there.

    We on this great forum are better than this and should just move on and leave this “revelation” in the rear view mirror where it so plainly belongs.

    Of course, the hit and run posts from John430, JKB, etc., should be good for a chuckle or two.

    12
  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I care about it NOW.
    Because there is clearly a MAGAt in the DOJ who is being allowed to waste time on this and leak to the press about it…a la James Comey.
    The same thing happened a couple weeks ago with the Durham investigation.
    Leaks about nothing that cast baseless aspersions that the right wing nut jobs can run with for days on end.
    In the meantime there is next to zero indication that any attention is being paid to the organizers and instigators of the coup attempt on January 6th, 2021. And those people are free to continue to spread cancer through our Democracy.

    9
  13. gVOR08 says:

    Baby steps. Sometimes, in small ways, the world does get better. Six years ago NYT would have had four reporters and a mob of interns do a deep dive into this story and produce a full page piece about how Hunter once met someone, and he could have done this bad thing, and there was the possibility of that bad thing, then in the third graph from the end admitting they hadn’t found any evidence of any bad thing actually happening. When it comes to chasing RW blogs down rabbit holes, maybe NYT has arrived at fool me a hundred times, shame on you, fool me a hundred and one … maybe sometimes it is irresponsible to ask stupid questions.

    3
  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I don’t think it matters because it does not live within a larger narrative that will have any resonance outside of MAGA. No one GAF because no one really believes Joe Biden is corrupt. This story is basically fan service for the MAGAts, but won’t travel beyond the cult.

    3
  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    In the meantime there is next to zero indication that any attention is being paid to the organizers and instigators of the coup attempt on January 6th, 2021. And those people are free to continue to spread cancer through our Democracy.

    Yeah. Next to zero? If DoJ is actually going after Trump and his top minions it’s the best kept secret in DC history. So far all I hear from Garland is legalese for, “Only if we stumble across evidence that forces us to.”

    A couple days ago Lawrence Tribe responded to the concern that a jury would be nullified by at least one MAGAt member. He points out that a DC jury convicted 1/6 defendant Guy Reffit of five counts in four hours. Hey Garland, if you don’t try you’ve already lost. And why TH can’t you prosecute for the obvious and already documented attempt to solicit a bribe from the government of Ukraine?

    2
  16. DK says:

    Oh, Hunter Biden owned a laptop? My goodness, what’s the next shoe to drop? Ella Emhoff drinks orange juice?

    1
  17. Andy says:

    So the Biden laptop has moved from “Russian disinformation” to being a real thing, but probably a nothing-burger.

    As a free speech guy, however, I would just note that reporting on this laptop was initially actively suppressed because it was labeled “Russian disinformation” despite no evidence that it actually was. And now it seems that the laptop and emails are real and that the claims of Russian disinformation are false, even if the info on the laptop might not be all that interesting, much less criminal.

    So I think the real story here is not about Hunter’s laptop, it’s about the media and social media who too often act not on principle and suppress things under the label of “misinformation” that actually aren’t.

    My view continues to be that misinformation, bad ideas, and propaganda are best combated by exposure to light, not attempted suppression. Additionally, suppression that turns out to be unwarranted is obviously counterproductive and just reinforces in the minds of many Americans that media organizations are not even pretending to be neutral and are too in thrall to aggressive loudmouths on Twitter and other social media. And frankly if, like I do, you consume a lot of media from the mainstream to the right, left and heterodox it becomes very obvious that most “news” today is narrative-driven.

    So I think the only prudent thing to do is to be skeptical of just about everything, particularly attempts at suppression or the clear promotion of some theories and narratives above others.

    2
  18. Rick DeMent says:

    The only thing new in this for me is that there was actually a laptop. I thought it was just fever dream material from Rudy’s brain.

    2
  19. James Joyner says:

    @Jen: So, again, that’s been my take since the story broke. But allegations against the then-Democratic nominee for and now sitting President are different than those against any Senator. And this report actually reinforces the notion that Joe Biden did nothing improper.

    @drj: The NYT reported, on page 20 of a paper that serves as the Newspaper of Record and thus reports on hundreds of things a day, that the investigation was widening. Even though I dismissed the original NY Post story on this as “Russian Agitprop,” I don’t think this is the work of Russia.

    @wr: There is nothing immoral about driving 56 mph; speed limits are regulatory measures, violation of which tend to be civil infractions. My view here is that Hunter Biden may or may not have violated the law; we’ll find out in due course. But, rather clearly, he was leveraging his father’s public office for his personal gain and trying to be a foreign agent while avoiding having to register as one. I strongly suspect his father would have strongly disapproved.

    @Michael Reynolds: Ultimately, the story was only moderately about Hunter Biden but, like all of these stories going back to at least the Billy Carter days, about their much-more-powerful family member. And, contrary to the early smears from Trump and company, Joe Biden comes out looking even more ethical as the story goes on.

    @drj: The subhed is “New evidence changes the story ever so slightly.” That would seem to be a tip-off that not all that much actually changed.

    @inhumans99: Did you actually read the post? To the extent I compare the Biden and Trump sagas, it’s in Biden’s favor.

    2
  20. drj says:

    @Andy:

    So the Biden laptop has moved from “Russian disinformation” to being a real thing, but probably a nothing-burger.

    Dude, it’s still Russian misinformation.

    Don’t you think the Russians didn’t have some actual Biden emails they could have added (together with a bunch of fakes) to that pdf(!) file on “Biden’s” laptop?

    They hacked the DNC for chrissakes.

    The same laptop that gets “forgotten” at some obscure repair shop owned by a MAGA type and subsequently delivered to Giuliani who was palling around with some sketchy Russians at that point?

    How credulous can you be?

    And to top it off, precisely when Russia is in urgent need of some distraction this decomposed body gets resurrected.

    I mean, come on…

    8
  21. drj says:

    @Andy:

    So I think the only prudent thing to do is to be skeptical of just about everything, particularly attempts at suppression

    Yeah, why don’t we seriously investigate Russia’s claim that Ukraine and the US were developing means to use migratory birds to spread the plague across the great Russian Motherland?

    I mean, it could be the deliberate suppression of an inconvenient truth, amirite?

    8
  22. DK says:

    @Andy:

    So the Biden laptop has moved from “Russian disinformation” to being a real thing, but probably a nothing-burger.

    It’s always been all of the above and still is. Hillary’s email server existed. The idea it was some grand earth-shattering scandal and not a nothing-burger is Russian disinformation.

    10
  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    to being a real thing, but probably a nothing-burger.

    Wait. It’s a real thing in that Hunter Biden had a laptop with email messages about his business dealings and that was taken by the owner of a repair shop who was a crazed trumper. I don’t think anyone is surprised that either of these things turn out to be true. Heck, I would assume that a trumper would be just as delighted with themselves for stealing Biden’s laptop as Pelosi’s podium.

    What made everyone treat it as ridiculous was the hysterical claims about the contents with no evidence to back it up. This is a case of a bunch of liars ginning up hysteria by telling lies. Nothing has changed about that.

    4
  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, the whole “laptop forgotten in a repair shop in New Jersey” just has the sound of “it fell off a truck” to me. And that’s enough to laugh it off. This evidence isn’t really credible. It’s the fruit of a poison tree, at best.

    Although, if the Russians were planting disinformation, you’d think they’d plant stuff a bit more incriminating, which this isn’t.

    So maybe this is a “steal real emails, plant them on a faked laptop, because it stirs the pot” kind of thing?

    2
  25. Andy says:

    @drj:

    Dude, it’s still Russian misinformation.

    Don’t you think the Russians didn’t have some actual Biden emails they could have added (together with a bunch of fakes) to that pdf(!) file on “Biden’s” laptop?

    Maybe that’s true, but what’s your evidence? You don’t seem to have any. You ask how credulous I can be when there is no evidence for what you are alleging. Also, the fact that the laptop is being used in a grand jury investigation suggests that federal authorities believe it is genuine suggests that your theory is probably not correct.

    But if evidence otherwise comes to light showing some connection with Russia, as opposed to unsubstantiated suppositions that Russians added something to the laptop, then I’ll gladly change my analysis.

    Yeah, why don’t we seriously investigate Russia’s claim that Ukraine and the US were developing means to use migratory birds to spread the plague across the great Russian Motherland?

    I mean, it could be the deliberate suppression of an inconvenient truth, amirite?

    The point is that if you attempt to actively suppress such a theory, the result will be that more people will believe it is true. Not only does suppression almost never work, but it’s also counterproductive.

    @MarkedMan:

    What made everyone treat it as ridiculous was the hysterical claims about the contents with no evidence to back it up. This is a case of a bunch of liars ginning up hysteria by telling lies. Nothing has changed about that.

    Well, of course, hysterical and exaggerated claims are the norm these days. Is the proper response to that to not allow the NY Post (or some other outlet) access to social media and delete links to the story they wrote on it?

    What is the standard here that can be evenly applied? If anyone can define an objective standard for when reporting from a news organization ought to be suppressed then let’s hear it.

    1
  26. Chris says:

    Mr. Joyner covered the subject pretty well. However, it would have been nice to begin with a summary of the facts at the beginning of the post and then do a breakdown of the timeline. As it stands now, those with light attention spans will miss out or won’t get to the point that there is “not too much to see here folks.”

    1
  27. inhumans99 says:

    @JustAGirl:

    JustAGirl, if you think this will benefit the GOP to bring it up all the time in 2024, go for it. You know what, we both know that McConnel is not going glom onto this nothingburger story (too funny, the post above yours is Chris saying folks will hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see when looking at the story, and ignore that part that says anything substantial about the story is very difficult to find, as it just takes a long path to reiterating that Biden is not a crook and did nothing wrong, in fact he is the victim here what with his laptop being bandied about by folks not named Hunter Biden, exactly what you just did).

    Seriously, let the Boeberts and MTG’s go nuts with this, the saner GOP folks like McConnell are not going to pin their 2024 hopes on Hunter Biden’s laptop.

    3
  28. Jen says:

    @James Joyner:

    But allegations against the then-Democratic nominee for and now sitting President are different than those against any Senator.

    I guess I just fundamentally disagree with this. Allegations of impropriety are allegations of impropriety, and it doesn’t–or shouldn’t–matter if it’s a Senator or the President, they both/all should be above board.

    I’m going to go pet my unicorn now. 😀

    2
  29. Jay L Gischer says:

    @JustAGirl: That’s all very well and good but there’s still nothing here of note.

    How this stuff works is that there doesn’t need to be anything of note. For instance, consider what Trump asked Zelensky to do in the transcript of the call that Trump described as “clean”. He asked him to “go to a microphone” and say that they were investigating something. They didn’t have to actually investigate anything. They didn’t have to accuse anyone of wrongdoing. Just say “we’re investigating”. That would be enough to fire up a giant smear campaign.

    We went through several years of “Benghazi” where people were engaging in smears under the guise of “just asking questions” which got lots of people riled up and foaming at the mouth at the very mention of “Benghazi”. This is how this disinformation/smear stuff works. The smear campaign of 2000 against John McCain in South Carolina was pretty much the same. Substance doesn’t matter, just rumormongering. And the most shameful part of this to me, is that plenty of evangelical Christians are doing it in spite of the commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness”. That’s far more specific than lying.

    How is it you expect us to counter this sort of thing?

    6
  30. steve says:

    Not clear to me that they were actively suppressing the story. I think it more likely they did believe it was Russian misinformation. Look at all of the investigations the GOP has pushed. Fast and Furious, Lois Lerner, the emails, Seth Rich, all of the very , very many election fraud claims and suits, 8 Benghazi investigations. The odds were better of the story being misinformation than true based upon past claims in GOP investigations. At this point if the GOP claims something needs to be investigated I also assume it is fake.

    Steve

    4
  31. Modulo Myself says:

    @Andy:

    IIRC, the emails were considered genuine, but how the laptop with the emails came into the hands of the NY Post was suspect. Also IIRC the Post was amateur hour and didn’t provide metadata showing they had access to the actual laptop. So a good objective standard would be to demand proof of where an email cache came from. If you got it from a Russian phishing scam, say that. If Hunter Biden left his laptop in a repair store (which apparently happened) you say that, and then provide proof that you accessed laptop. Endemic lying and lack of talent in the conservative side made it hard to believe that the source of the emails was true.

    That said, social media had nothing to do with the story being a zero. Hunter Biden was way more sympathetic than the disgusting schlubs and freaks who ended up releasing nude photos of him from the same laptop.

    1
  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: I don’t even understand what your point is. No one here is saying the Post should be prohibited from publishing. But they are a rag and they published a hit piece trying to take down Joe Biden. Add in a half crazed Rudy Giuliani and a gaggle of trumpers just makes the whole thing even more ludicrous. Pointing out that they are not credible and heaping scorn on them is the correct response in every way, for any article they publish about anything or any story they are trying to promote. Taking them seriously is a mistake.

    If Dr. Oz starts selling Açaí Extract to cure testicular cancer it is irresponsible to treat his claims seriously and attempt to publish thoughtful articles looking at his evidence. He will sell more extract and more men will die of cancer. The proper response is to give not a single column inch to his nonsense and perhaps instead rerun an article pointing out what a corrupt quack he is.

    8
  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I get that…but the cult is still >40% of this nation.

    1
  34. DK says:

    @JustAGirl:

    Maybe you’ll finally understand why it matters when this very thing is brought up incessantly in the 2024 campaign to deflect and ignore every negative story about Trump. What are you going to say in response? “Yeah, we lied to back then but trust us! We’re telling the truth now!”

    Now apply this standard to the New York Post (liars), Fox News (liars), right wing blogs (liars), and Donald Trump (biggest pathological liar in political history), and you’ll understand why “tHe BiDeN LaPtOp” will be ignored outside of your echo chamber of nonstop rightwing lies and phony witch hunts.

    I guess y’all had to come up with something to distract from Trump’s Putin-apologia and destruction of classified documents, since last month’s lies about Hillary spying on Trump fizzled.

    Wonder what the next Republican distraction tactic will be. More book bans? More persecution of gay kids? More appearances at white nationalist conferences? More smearing teachers as groomers while protecting sex trafficking Matt Gaetz?

    4
  35. DK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    No one here is saying the Post should be prohibited from publishing.

    If this hasn’t been said, I volunteer.

    2
  36. Kathy says:

    When you feed the troll, you run the risk they’ll stay around and you’ll wind up adopting them.

    Unlike stray dogs, they don’t become friendly, and won’t even want to take their shots.

    Don’t feed stray trolls.

    6
  37. gVOR08 says:

    There is no way I’m going to spend time researching this but I recall major outlets reporting Giuliani et al claimed to have a laptop and that there’s bad stuff on it, but they won’t let us authenticate the laptop or even see the supposed bad stuff, so that’s all the story there is unless they’re more forthcoming.

    1
  38. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I don’t even understand what your point is. No one here is saying the Post should be prohibited from publishing. But they are a rag and they published a hit piece trying to take down Joe Biden. Add in a half crazed Rudy Giuliani and a gaggle of trumpers just makes the whole thing even more ludicrous. Pointing out that they are not credible and heaping scorn on them is the correct response in every way, for any article they publish about anything or any story they are trying to promote. Taking them seriously is a mistake.

    The point is not about anyone’s subjective opinions about NY Post reporting. The point is about intentionally attempting to suppress a single story based on what now appears to be misinformation – that the story is based on Russian misinformation.

    The issue for me is not the content of the story or whose ax gets gored. In my view, this was very much like the suppression of the lab leak hypothesis for a year where people claimed it was misinformation when it actually wasn’t. In the other thread you commented about the “mob” and piling on.

    I think a similar dynamic is happening in such cases like this one where a truthy narrative gets established and then any opposition to that narrative is actively suppressed.

    Now, is that something you and others here support – suppressing reporting for dubious reasons – or not? Should all “hit pieces” be suppressed?

    Are you defending the actions taken by various parties to suppress the original NY Post story, even though it’s now clear that the stated reasons for doing so were incorrect? If so, I’d be interested in hearing justifications along with an objective standard to determine when, in the future, other stories ought to be suppressed or not suppressed.

    The point being, one either agrees with suppressing news stories and information or not. And if one does agree with suppressing news stories or information, then one ought to have discriminating criteria for which stories ought to be suppressed. And so, I’m asking those who think suppressing the NY Post story (or any other story) was legitimate and valid, what is your criteria?

    My view is and has been consistent – attempting to suppress information and reporting is bad and counterproductive and I don’t support suppressing stories, information or ideas as a matter of principle.

    2
  39. drj says:

    @Andy:

    You ask how credulous I can be when there is no evidence for what you are alleging.

    Fuck my life.

    You previously claimed to have a background in intelligence.

    Didn’t they teach you back at spy school to always look at the provenance of information? That info is only as good as its source?

    Sure, I don’t know that the Hunter Biden laptop is part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

    But I do know that emails saved in pdf format (without any metadata – which would be relatively hard to forge) that are conveniently being discovered by some guy (Giuliani) with proven ties to a bunch of Russian spooks aren’t to be taken at face value.

    How do I know this? Well, I’m not a gullible fool. That definitely helps.

    10
  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: I don’t understand what you mean by “suppressing”. You seem to be using it to mean “not taking it seriously”.

    3
  41. wr says:

    @Andy: “The point is that if you attempt to actively suppress such a theory, the result will be that more people will believe it is true. ”

    So we should stop saying that the DC pizza place with no basement didn’t run a secret child sex ring out of the non-existent basement where Hillary ate children? Because more (insanely stupid) people will believe it?

    How much of our lives do you believe we should give over to insanely stupid people in hopes that they’ll simply forget their insanely stupid theories?

    6
  42. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “I don’t understand what you mean by “suppressing”. You seem to be using it to mean “not taking it seriously”.”

    It’s a simple fact that if everyone doesn’t constantly repeat a lie that the RNC wants spread, then we are all guilty of suppressing it.

    3
  43. steve says:

    Andy- The suppression you talk about is largely just not covering the story. Given the amount of false claims, how do they know what to cover? At some point they have to use some discretion.

    Steve

    3
  44. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan:

    @Andy: I don’t understand what you mean by “suppressing”.

    The NY Post story—which I, too, dismissed as Russian agitprop—was actively suppressed on Twitter and Facebook and quite possibly elsewhere. Posts were automatically removed and accounts that tried to share the story were suspended unless and until they removed the link. Indeed, the entire NY Post Twitter account was suspended for two weeks.

  45. James Joyner says:

    @Jen:

    Allegations of impropriety are allegations of impropriety, and it doesn’t–or shouldn’t–matter if it’s a Senator or the President, they both/all should be above board.

    Well, sure. I think our ethics laws are to lackadaisical. No member of Congress ought to be able to own individual stocks, for example. How to apply that rule to immediate, let alone extended, family is more problematic.

    But I’m talking in terms of the attention of the national media. The country is naturally more interested in the person controlling all of the Executive power of the US Government than one of a hundred members of one house of a bicameral legislature.

  46. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    It seems to me that Twitter didn’t want to be conduit for a) at best, hacked personal data; b) at worst, a Russian misinformation campaign.

    Thus, I don’t see the problem. If Twitter can ban what it deems “hate speech,” why shouldn’t it be banning Russian “active measures?”

    Let’s try and look at the situation objectively, shall we?

    1) The laptop story is too ridiculous to be true.
    2) Some of the leaked emails (conveniently without metadata) seem to be/could be genuine.

    So where did these emails come from? The obvious guess is that these were stolen by Russia-affiliated hackers (we all know what happened in 2016) and that the laptop story is just a terrible attempt at laundering stolen data.

    You can bet dollars to donuts that people at the NY Post were in on this, too. Why else didn’t they release the laptop itself or the actual emails (including metadata)? It seems obvious that they (in cooperation with Giuliani and Bannon) were desperately trying to conceal their actual source, i.e., the Russians.

    Knowing all this, the next question is how serious should we take these emails?

    Considering the likely provenance of the data, here is another major problem: some of these (or even all of these) emails could be forged to a greater or lesser extent – but we have no way of knowing which ones.

    Alternatively, all emails are genuine, but not every relevant email is included, distorting the overall picture. Again, we have no way of knowing whether this is the case.

    All this means that we cannot reasonably use these emails for anything, as their provenance is hopelessly tainted.

    Which leads to the article you cited:

    [Twitter] said its policy “prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization” and that it doesn’t want to encourage hacking by allowing people to share “possibly illegally obtained materials.”

    And:

    Twitter and Facebook have been acting more aggressively in recent weeks to curb the spread of false claims and manipulation related to the election as part of efforts to avoid a repeat of 2016 when Russian-linked actors used social media to target American voters.

    Facebook has been warning about the possibility of “hack and leak” operations, where stolen documents or other sensitive materials are strategically leaked — as happened in 2016 with hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

    Seems reasonable to me.

    5
  47. Raoul says:

    So now that it has been established that Hunter did nothing illegal, what do we know of the provenance of the laptop. If I had to guess, the Russians stole it and came with that ridiculous cover story.