With their guy trailing badly in the polls, and their big “Russiagate hoax” just having fizzled into a complete dud, Fox is suddenly throwing its muscle behind Hunterghazi 2.0 via some sketchy emails, questionably from Hunter Biden, that supposedly show (but don’t) that Joe Biden met with the head of Burisma, the company whose board Hunter Biden sat on. All brought to you by the team of Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon.
The coronavirus is spiking and millions of Americans face hunger and eviction, it’s hard for me to see how Joe Biden’s son ostensibly arranging a meeting with his father and a foreign company five and a half years ago is going to capture the imagination of the public. But even so, the facts are very suspicious. The authorship of the conveniently-timed for discovery emails is dubious and the emails do not show that Joe Biden ever agreed to a meeting, much less that one took place.
Let’s be clear about how bogus "Hunterghazi" is to begin with. Despite the best efforts of Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican chairman of the Homeland Security Committee who has admitted his committee’s investigation into the matter was an effort to damage Biden, the GOP’s own star witness debunked the narrative. Here’s how I explained it on Crooks and Liars:
As Sargent and Waldman outline [in The Washington Post], the right-wing conspiracy theory is that Biden held up aid to Ukraine on condition of the firing of a prosecutor in order to protect Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Ukraine’s Burisma. In fact, it was the Ukrainian prosecutor who was corrupt and Burisma was not under investigation at the time.
Johnson's star witness was George Kent, a top State Department official. He raised concerns about the appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest, Sargent and Waldman noted, but he specifically stated there was no actual wrongdoing.
In a NewsHounds post about Sean Hannity and Johnson pretending the Homeland Security investigation had uncovered a bombshell, I added:
The Post also noted, “GOP senators were briefed by Obama officials about this [Ukraine] policy at the time, including about the conditioning of foreign aid, and had no objections to it.”
Now, apparently unable to come up with any real dirt on Biden, we’ve got “his son’s emails.”
Media Matters does a good job of explaining:
“BIDEN SECRET E-MAILS” blares the front-page headline of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post on Wednesday morning. “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post,” reads the first sentence of the article.
[T]he email the Post cites does not actually show that Hunter Biden “introduced” Joe Biden to the Burisma executive. In the email, Vadym Pozharskyi, described by the Post as “an adviser to the board of Burisma,” thanks Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity to meet your father.” If the email is genuine, that comment “may just as easily have meant Hunter promised a meeting in the future that may never have occurred,” and the Post does not appear to have produced any other reporting indicating such a meeting took place.
The bizarre provenance of the emails cited in the Post article should also give journalists pause -- it involves the unnamed “shop owner” of a Delaware computer repair store who claims that someone brought a “water-damaged MacBook Pro” into the shop in April 2019, never came to pick it up, and ignored all entreaties to come get it. (It is unclear from the article whether the Post spoke directly to the “shop owner” or learned this secondhand from, say, [Rudy] Giuliani.).
The “shop owner” supposedly “couldn’t positively identify the customer as Hunter Biden” but the story also includes what appears to be a photo of a receipt for the work made out to Hunter Biden. The “shop owner” claims to have reviewed the laptop’s contents, copied them (possibly illegally), alerted the FBI and gave them the laptop, and provided the copy to a Giuliani associate.
Not surprisingly, Fox News, which just laid off 25% of its fact checkers and researchers, has no questions about the credibility of the matter and is reiterating, as the Post article did, the bogus claim that Biden fired the prosecutor to protect his son. The FoxNews.com homepage is treating this as a huge bombshell. This is the top of the homepage as I write this:
Fox’s Brooke Singman (whom we last saw transcribing Trump campaign and RNC press releases into news headlines) falsely and misleadingly wrote:
[The emails] revealed that Biden’s son introduced the then-vice president to a top executive at Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings less than a year before he pressured government officials in Ukraine to fire prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the company.
Biden once famously boasted on camera that when he was vice president and spearheading the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin, who was the top prosecutor at the time. He had been investigating the founder of Burisma.
Maria Bartiromo, Trump sycophant extraordinaire at Fox Business, got right to interviewing Steve Bannon this morning. His role in the story was described thusly by The Post:
Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of it on Sunday.
There were no questions for Bannon about the criminal fraud charges against him, alleging he and three cohorts lined their pockets with donor money to a border wall nonprofit. Bannon reportedly received more than $1 million from his shenanigans. The thought that Bannon might not be the most credible source never seemed to cross Bartiromo’s mind.
Bartiromo said Bannon was there to “walk us through” what “we do we know about Hunter Biden and what does this tell us.” In other words, she offered him a platform to amplify the bogus scandal without challenge.
BANNON: [The emails show] the Biden family and Joe Biden has a major national security problem and that problem is that they’ve got extensive financial relationships across the globe with lots of companies controlled by foreign governments and they’ve never disclosed it. …He’s lied about it consistently.
Wait a minute, the emails, none of which are addressed to or from Joe Biden, showed nothing of the sort. Even The Post acknowledged that Hunter Biden wrote about his father, “what he will say and do is out of our hands.” Bartiromo said nothing about it.
So Bannon continued by demanding that the rest of the media do his bidding, with an assist from Bartiromo:
BANNON: [Biden] has got to be held accountable. He’s got to be held accountable by the mainstream media. He has to be held accountable, I think, by the Trump campaign and, ultimately, the American people. But Joe Biden has to come clean with this. He’s just a stone-cold liar. … He’s a compromised individual.
BARTIROMO: Do you think people understand this? I mean, you say he’s got to be held accountable. The media is not holding him accountable.
Bannon also claimed that this is only the “tip of the iceberg” of this story and that “there’s much more to come.” The mainstream media’s “credibility is going to be on line here” if they don’t go along, Bannon added.
He also suggested the FBI is to blame for Trump’s impeachment. Trump reportedly wants to fire Director Christopher Wray after the election for daring to show some independence. Bartiromo was all aboard that train, too.
BANNON: Where’s the FBI in this? The FBI had this hard drive since December of last year. If the FBI had come forward when they got this, President Trump would have never been impeached. This is a national scandal.
BARTIROMO: Unbelievable. And the Democrats, the president’s critics, will not acknowledge it either.
In what may be a classic case of projection, Bannon, one of the front men for the nonprofit he allegedly stole from, announced that Biden “acts like some scumbag PR guy from one of these global corporations.”
Bartiromo, of course, lapped it up.
You can watch it below, from Fox Business Network’s October 14, 2020 Mornings with Maria.