There is no credible evidence that Joe Biden inappropriately benefited from his son Hunter’s ugly, drug-fueled exploitation of the family name.
The implication is that the evidence is substantive — just not definitive.
So what is that indirect and inconclusive — but still substantive — evidence of Biden’s misconduct? That they don’t say. They just hint at its existence.
It’s terrible journalism.
And it’s a key element of their both-sidesing of an attention-getting stunt that objectively has no merit and is clearly intended to distract from the House Republicans’ inability to govern.
Journalists need to either report that there’s no credible evidence or clearly identify what they consider credible, in order to let the public judge for itself.
We do know that Hunter Biden was a troubled fraudster who openly traded on his father’s name. But the evidence in the public domain does not indicate that Joe Biden was guilty of anything other than being a ridiculously (and admirably) loving father to his last remaining son.
Did he personally benefit from Hunter’s nefarious activities? Did he earn income he didn’t declare on his taxes?
If there were any credible evidence of that, this would be a different ballgame.
Significantly, we know that the most incendiary accusation against the president is a total, willful lie. The allegation that Biden got rid of a federal prosecutor in Ukraine to shield his son’s company from a corruption investigation is completely belied by the fact that it was U.S. policy to get rid of the prosecutor because he was insufficiently pursuing corruption. In other words, Biden didn’t act in his son’s interests, he acted against his son’s interests.
So What’s Left?
Republicans cite a 2020 tip from an FBI confidential human source who alleged that Joe and Hunter Biden each received $5 million in a Ukrainian bribery scheme. But the tip never panned out, and the person who allegedly offered the bribe said no such thing ever occurred.
So you can call that evidence, I guess. It’s just not credible evidence.
Similarly, some Biden opponents consider a series of texts and emails found on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop to be the smoking gun.
In one text message to his daughter Naomi, Biden complained that his father took half his salary. “I hope you all can do what I did and pay for everything for this entire family Fro (sic) 30 years. It’s really hard. But don’t worry unlike Pop I won’t make you give me half your salary,” he wrote.
In another text, he said had supported his family to some extent “for the last 24 years.” And in yet another, he indicated he had been paying a $190 monthly phone bill that included his father’s telephone lines.
In one email chain, one of Hunter’s business associates outlined a possible agreement for equity in a Chinese energy company that included the line “10 held by H for the big guy?”
Is this credible evidence? Or is it all highly dubious?
To me, it sounds like a whiny, errant son exaggerating his role as breadwinner, and possibly owing his father money. Credible evidence it is not.
Biden critics also cite his continued closeness to his son – including him on trips on Air Force One, welcoming Hunter and his business associates to the vice president’s office – as indications that he was abetting his son’s business. Maybe he was just being a dad.
We do know that Biden was wrong when, during a presidential debate in 2020, he claimed that his son had not made money in China. But that’s not remotely impeachable.
Just Say No
On a nearly daily basis, the major news organizations fail to accurately describe the “evidence” against Biden, using euphemisms that overstate its credibility.
Asked on Wednesday if the Republicans “have something” that rises to the level of impeachment, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith didn’t say no, they obviously don’t. She replied “Well, they have a dense cloud of accusations,” before adding that “some of which have been undermined by the evidence and depositions that they’ve already gathered in their investigations.”
Peter Baker of the New York Times has written that “The Republican investigation so far has not produced concrete evidence of a crime by the president.”
On the rare occasions that they actually discuss the evidence — in sidebars, rather than in the main news stories — both the Times and the Washington Post have reached much blunter conclusions.
Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler summarized the allegations, then reached a conclusion that his colleagues have apparently chosen to ignore: “Republicans have long suspected that Joe Biden acted with corrupt intent through his son, though no evidence has emerged to support that.” None.
In the Times, Luke Broadwater similarly concluded that “Beyond Mr. Biden exchanging niceties with associates of his son, Republicans have provided no evidence that the elder Mr. Biden was involved in landing that business or participated in it in any way.” None.
Biden’s critics also accuse him of having urged Justice Department officials to go easy on Hunter, But Broadwater concluded: “There is no evidence that Mr. Biden ordered that his son get special treatment in any investigation.” None.
Nevertheless, the pattern our major news organizations have fallen into involves quoting whatever the Republicans allege, then quoting the White House calling the allegations baseless, then – further down in the story – noting in their own words that the evidence is not “direct” or “conclusive” or “concrete”.
They ought to say there’s no credible evidence of any of it.
Also see my August 14 column: A pliant political press is wildly overplaying the Hunter Biden story