The Hunter Biden story has done a total 180 but the MSM is in denial

Alexander Smirnov outside a Las Vegas courthouse.
Alexander Smirnov outside a Las Vegas courthouse.

The Hunter Biden impeachment drama has been transformed by the revelation that the most essential witness for the GOP is a pathological liar and Russian intelligence asset.

The story is no longer whether Joe Biden committed high crimes and misdemeanors by maintaining relations with his ne’er-do-well son. In fact, there has never been any credible evidence to support that conclusion.

The real story is that the ludicrous Republican impeachment investigation has now been exposed as a Russian intelligence op. This, even as Republicans do Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding by blocking support for Ukraine and only a few short years after Trump aides welcomed Russian moves to help the Trump campaign in 2016.

But the political reporters at our most esteemed newsrooms who went to great lengths to portray the Biden impeachment investigation as a serious inquiry seem unable to change gears.

I’m not surprised. It  would require them to admit they were wrong. They don’t do that.

This is now a major scandal, worthy of the kind of multiple-day front-page pile-on involving legions of reporters and opinion writers that Biden’s age got recently.

But the response from the Washington Post and the New York Times has been tepid, with a grand total of one buried print story since the news about Alexander Smirnov’s Russian connections emerged in a Tuesday afternoon court filing by special counsel David Weiss.

Here’s the limp New York Times story, which appeared on page A16 on Wednesday. An online-only article later on Wednesday focused almost exclusively on Smirnov and how he “stepped over the line.”

That very same day, the Times front-paged a three-byline, 3,000-word story on the Hollywood lawyer who the authors apparently think helped Hunter Biden too much.

Here’s the lackluster Washington Post story on the Russian connection, which appeared on page A4 on Wednesday – right above a longer piece by Matt Viser about the “high stakes” involved in the impeachment investigation and how Republicans “are still struggling to uncover firm evidence” that Biden profited from his son’s shady business dealings. (“Struggling” not “failing”.)

Indeed, a Post story in today’s paper about the deposition of presidential brother James Biden continued to depict the impeachment investigation respectfully, rather than as a now-undermined and farcical act at attempted revenge. Author Matt Viser even speculated that the questioning of James Biden “could yield more information.”

Politico barely even mentioned the Russian connection at all.

The Associated Press had two stories about the new developments. The second-day story was stronger than the first, leading this way:

The explosive allegations at the center of an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden were false, federal prosecutors said, and came from an ex-FBI informant who said he was in touch with Russian intelligence.

But none of the major news organizations have come even close to acknowledging just how much the story has changed.

By contrast, TPM editor Josh Marshall, writing on Wednesday afternoon, powerfully described the revelation as the latest example of “a continuing Russian information operation that has been ongoing for almost a decade.” He concluded:

The real issue… is the reporters, editorialists and commentators, who vouched for and credited this whole edifice of lies and bullshit. Yes, they guffawed when James Comer came forward yet again with more revelations that never quite panned out. But they didn’t give up hope. They were always waiting for the next revelation. Comer and his Republican colleagues hadn’t provided “hard evidence” yet but there sure was a lot of smoke.

This entire thing has been based on Russian plants and intelligence operations from the start. Every bit of it. It’s been obvious. And yet, well … they’re all dupes. Somehow almost a decade after this whole thing started we’re shocked to see, wow, Weiss’s office was being led around by another cat’s paw of the Russian intelligence services. We’re shocked. But why are we shocked? Every last person among the serious people of the nation’s capital and the sprawling thing called elite received opinion has egg on their face. And it’s not even clear they fully realize it yet.

People I follow on social media have been justifiably outraged.

Author Joseph O’Neill tweeted:

The truly scandalous thing about the MSM’s failure to splash this across the front pages is that secret treacherous collaboration between the GOP and Russia is a huge, sensational story by any normal journalistic standard.

John Stoehr, the editor of the Editorial Board newsletter, tweeted:

It’s not enough to say that the GOP’s impeachment inquiry is falling apart. It’s not enough to say that they keep peddling debunked conspiracy theories. We should say clearly that the root of the lies is the Kremlin, then ask why the GOP is trafficking in Russian disinfo.

Brian Beutler, author of the Off Message newsletter, tweeted:

It isn’t just MSM either. Many Dems, even very good ones, see this mainly as the death knell for impeachment. They haven’t realized or are trying to avoid the fact that this is the opening of a new scandal (or reopening of an old one, if you prefer).

Video journalist Brinda Adhikari tweeted:

I’m having trouble understanding why every single story on my feed is not about the Russian disinformation campaign to influence our election by deliberately seeding bad info about H. Biden. Like why is this not a huge story-how else might the Russians be trying to influence us??

Democratic commentator Kaivan Shroff tweeted:

5 YEARS of Hunter Biden coverage and all of a sudden media has lost interest now that we learn it was a Russian op that Republicans were happy to engage in. Absolutely insane.

Condé Nast journalist Luke Zaleski warned:

We’re going to be gaslit into a dictatorship. It’s time to recalibrate the presumption that the Republican Party hasn’t been seriously compromised.

I’ll leave the last words to David Roberts, author of the Volts newsletter, who tweeted:

The entire Biden impeachment effort was built around a guy who was peddling Russian disinformation. This seems like significant news, unless … [finger to ear] … never mind, I’m being told Biden is still old.






  1. What is even more infuriating to me it that the media is burying the fact that Smirnov has been an FBI informant since way back in 2010! That is either massive incompetence on the part of the FBI or worse, some people in the FBI have been actively colluding with Russia. This reminds me of how quickly the media buried the story about Charles McGonigal and barely bothered to cover his trial and conviction. Their attitude was “Move on, nothing to see here”.
    It also reminds me how the media refused to cover the fact that agents in the NY field office worked to trash Hillary in 2016 by leaking damaging information to the media as well as Rudy and James Kallstron and also pressuring FBI higher officials like Comey and McCabe to do the same.
    The media completely ignored the fact that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz investigated those agents for interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of their pal Trump. Horowitz even reported that there was “visceral hatred” of Hillary by some in the NY FBI office but the media didn’t bother reporting that either. My best guess is that the media protects those agents because they are their sources.

  2. It starts to make one wonder whether Russia hasn’t compromised members of our media.

    This should be a firestorm of a story, re-igniting questions about members of Congress who have taken Russian money. That’s even a bipartisan problem, although more serious on the Republican side. Jake Auchinschloss took a lot of heat for getting Russian-sourced money. But Lev Parnas spilled tens of thousands of Russian money into state and federal elections (, notably Senator Pete Sessions and, of course, Donald Trump….all Republicans. The media is silent on that point.

    We can’t be a free nation with a compromised press.

  3. It boggles my mind that the dying legacy media is going to sit on the story of the century; that an American political party has been completely taken over by foreign interests and foreign agents, acting in malicious faith in concert with our compromised justice system, and the political press is instead engaged in partisan ageism against the best US president in living memory and hypothetical West Wing fanfiction. They’re so eager for Biden to stroke out or have a heart attack I’m surprised reporters haven’t tried to body-check Biden and make him suffer a fall, then blame it on his age.

    • Not just foreign agents, but foreign agents of a power that wants the US either destroyed or severely hobbled, so they can step into the power gap and grab whatever land and people they feel entitled to. The Republican Party is literally giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the West, and no one in the US MSM seems to care.

  4. A16 is The NY Times’ favorite page to bury stories. That’s the same page where they announced that a civil suit had been filed Trump’s adult kids in The Trump Organization financial corruption. Imagine where they would’ve run the story had it been Chelsea Clinton! But then imagine their coverage had Hillary been elected and made Chelsea a “senior advisor” (and she actually would’ve been qualified with to masters degree and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford). Front page for weeks until Hillary relented and withdrew the appointment. Did you see any such coverage at all of Trump installing his purse-designer daughter and failed real estate mogul son-in-law in the White House? I didn’t.

  5. MSM,GOP and…the Oligarchy!
    Follow the money stench and the answer is obvious. The system was designed from the beginning to keep the power in the hands of white male landowners…it’s only a bit less like that these days.MSM is owned by these folks, government is bought and paid for, the courts have been under control since Reagan and the citizenry have usually been easily divided.
    ‘The People’ have rarely prevailed, at least not for long because the Oligarchy NEVER stop,they are relentless in this pursuit of Power whereas most folks are just trying to live their lives…ain’t dark yet but it’s getting there…good luck to us.

  6. This is why, of all the criticisms of our media stars, the one I strongly disagree with is “They’re just in it for the clicks and ratings.” The fact — because it is a fact now — that one of our two major parties expressly and explicitly works for the interests of Vladimir Putin and does not rule out political violence in the furtherance of that goal? That’s a big story. People would click on it. People would watch it. But they don’t do it.


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