At what point should the mainstream media report on the Biden family story?

Where is the line for deciding to cover a story when silence is seen as more damning?

Former U.S. Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to supporters at a community event at Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson, Nev., Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.
Former U.S. Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to supporters at a community event at Sun City MacDonald Ranch in Henderson, Nev., Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.
DAVID SUISSA Editor-in-Chief Tribe Media/Jewish Journal (Israeli American Council)
David Suissa
David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp and Jewish Journal. He can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

One of the first things I read on Thursday morning was a news item on National Review Online (NRO) about the contents of a laptop that allegedly belongs to Hunter Biden. According to the New York Post, which reported on the topic on Oct. 14, the laptop was left at a computer repair store in Delaware and was subsequently forwarded to Rudy Giuliani and the FBI. The veracity of the laptop and its photos, files and emails are currently being investigated.

According to Politico, “Neither Biden nor his attorney … have said whether Hunter Biden really did drop off waterlogged laptops and a hard drive at a Delaware repair shop, or whether the reported emails are authentic or not.”

On the laptop was an email purportedly discussing a business arrangement between a Chinese company and the Biden family. On Thursday morning, according to reporting from the Post, the recipient of that email confirmed “that the email is ‘genuine’ and said the family ‘aggressively leveraged the Biden family name to make millions’ from foreign entities.”

After reading this new development, I immediately went to The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC websites to see how they would cover it.


Then I went back to the Post and read that in a 2017 text exchange, “Hunter Biden’s ex-business partner Tony Bobulinski was warned ‘don’t mention Joe.’ ” That text exchange “emerged following Bobulinski’s bombshell statement to The Post that former vice president Joe Biden was involved in his family’s plot to make millions in Communist China.

“The messages, obtained by Fox News on Thursday [Oct. 22], purportedly shows Bobulinski being instructed by James Gilliar, another key player in the alleged scheme, not to make any mention of the former veep’s involvement.”

The report continued:

“In a lengthy statement to The Post’s Michael Goodwin, Bobulinski addressed a May 13, 2017, email published [on Oct. 15] that revealed how Hunter Biden pursued lucrative deals with a Chinese energy company and wanted to hold 10 percent of profits for ‘the big guy.’”

According to the report, Bobulinsky said that “Hunter Biden called his dad ‘the Big Guy’ or ‘my Chairman,’ and frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals that we were discussing.”

Because Joe Biden has claimed in the past that he did not discuss business with Hunter, and because the reporting focuses on facts that can be investigated, and because these allegations appear to be serious, I assumed the new revelations would be worthy of coverage in the mainstream press.

As of Thursday, they were not.

I don’t want to rush into accusations of “media bias,” but I’m intrigued by the silence of several major publications. The story has gained enough traction in recent days that any media silence can be interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as bias. If an important outlet like The New York Times doesn’t trust the reporting, why not punch holes in it?

Politico, for example, has done just that in a story published today:

“Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has said he obtained the materials from the laptop of Hunter Biden, the Democratic nominee’s son. They have not been reviewed or verified by POLITICO—and there are questions about the New York Post’s reporting on the matter, as well as the tabloid and other Trump-friendly outlets’ interpretations of events. There are concerns, too, about the former New York mayor’s interactions with figures linked by Trump’s own administration to Russian intelligence.”

Slate, similarly, has noted that verifying the contents of the laptop’s hard drive is difficult because “Giuliani does not seem to have allowed other news outlets besides the Post to examine the data.”

That is hardly corroboration, but it’s better than silence.

As an editor, I know that deciding what stories to pursue can be a difficult, contentious decision. Many publications decide to publish a story only when they have independent verification. But where is the line for deciding to cover a story when the silence is seen as more damning? And why is that line crossed for some instances—like the widely reported and discredited Steele dossier—and not others?

David Suissa is editor-in-chief and publisher of Tribe Media Corp, and “Jewish Journal.” He can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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