My question for today has nothing to do with President Joe Biden's favorite ice cream. I don't know if ice cream is a big thing in China.
But does China have anything on our president, through first son Hunter Biden's questionable and clout-heavy China business dealings? I'm not the first to raise such questions about a sitting president -- look at Nancy Pelosi and her Donald Trump allegations. More on that later.
When his father was vice president, as then-President Barack Obama's point man in China and Ukraine, future first son Hunter followed the big guy off the planes and made friends in China and Ukraine. Hunter reportedly made millions.
It's important to examine, especially now, even as much of the Democrat-friendly corporate media is strenuously avoiding the Hunter Biden story, which may turn out to be like the Wuhan lab leak story -- one that was ignored by the media for political reasons and then rediscovered for political reasons.
The New York Post is on it, but others step away. The president's son is under federal investigation for tax fraud, his famous laptop is now in the custody of the FBI, and photos are circulating of Joe Biden at dinner with Hunter's business friends. Keep in mind the Biden folks have never forthrightly disputed the material on the laptop. Instead, they have followed the lead of Hunter Biden who has said he "doesn't know" if the laptop is his.
And still, the media doesn't seem all that interested in what it could mean. I'm sure China is interested.
American corporations are heavily invested in China, from the NBA to Disney to the Big Tech giants that decide what we can talk about on social media platforms.
The mainstream media is also quite corporate, and is finally getting around to asking if COVID-19 -- the virus that became a pandemic and has killed more than 3 million people worldwide -- leaked out of a lab in Wuhan and not from the hapless corpse of a pangolin in a nearby wet market, which was the story originally sold and swallowed by most journalists and Democrats.
Last week, I wondered if American journalism would take this time to reflect on why they became such useful tools on the virus origin story.
I got my answer. On Twitter, New York Times science writer Apoorva Mandavilli screeched on a since-deleted tweet thread that anyone talking of lab leaks in China was racist. That might include, then, reporters from The Wall Street Journal who dared raise the issue in late May, writing that scientists at the Wuhan lab showed signs of sickness in November 2019.
"Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here," The New York Times science reporter tweeted, then deleted.
While other journalists now stick their toes in the Wuhan lab leak waters, they absolve themselves of an embarrassing lack of journalistic curiosity and blame it all on Trump and conservatives like Sen. Tom Cotton, the Arkansas Republican.
"I think people made this mistake," The New York Times' David Leonhardt said on CNN. "I think a lot of people on the political left and people in the media made this mistake and said, 'Wow, if Tom Cotton is saying something, it can't be true.' ... But that doesn't mean that everything he says is wrong, and it seems like a lot of people, including a lot of in the media, leaped to dismiss the lab leak theory because of where it was coming from, and the reality is we don't yet know how Covid started."
Leonhardt called it a classic case of "groupthink."
News reporters are supposed to ask questions, not play the "useful idiot" or the political operative. Journalists should be contrarians, not vote herders.
The default explanation is that it's all Trump's fault. Just months ago, even asking about the possibility of a lab leak was a social media sin. But now curiosity returns and Americans may ask about the Wuhan lab again -- reporters too -- without great pain or suffering.
Now back to the question I asked at the top of this column: What if China has something on President Biden?
Don't blame me. If you want to blame someone, blame House Speaker Pelosi, a Democrat, who asked it about Trump in June 2020.
"Just as I have said to the president: With him (Trump), all roads lead to Putin," Pelosi said. "I don't know what the Russians have on the president, politically, personally, or financially."
She pumped out versions of this line, and they all had the same theme: What does Vladimir Putin have on Trump?
That was last summer, before the presidential election, and Pelosi and her Democrats, backed by their handmaidens in the Washington press corps, were pushing a story about the Russians paying bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan.
That story fell apart when the Biden administration killed it for lack of evidence, as did another story claiming that Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick was beaten and died of his injuries during the pro-Trump Jan. 6 demonstrations at the Capitol. (That wasn't true either.)
Or the other fantasy that Democrats and the media pushed day after day, night after night, for years, that Trump was a Russian spy and the election had been hijacked.
"Our election was hijacked," Pelosi tweeted in 2017. "There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts."
Hijacked? Is Pelosi an insurrectionist?
And all of these stories and more were used, not to bring a light to darkness, but as partisan hammers forged by media in the political wars.
If only I'd written about Biden's favorite ice cream flavor and not about Biden and China. That was a question journalists asked the president the other day.
MSNBC's Ali Velshi rhapsodized on the topic for minutes, gushing, "This is perhaps the most Joe Biden thing I've ever seen."
A while ago, Russia's Putin gave China President Xi Jinping some ice cream as a birthday present. They toasted each other with Champagne.
What's Xi's favorite flavor?
Does it matter?
(C)2021 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.