Harsh Coverage of Afghan Exit May Reflect Buyer's Remorse
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Harsh Coverage of Afghan Exit May Reflect Buyer's Remorse
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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When Joe Biden’s Afghanistan debacle came to light only a few weeks ago, many Republicans assumed that the media would play down the issue with favorable headlines about ending the “endless war” or stories that emphasized Biden simply following President Trump’s plan for an Afghanistan exit. But this didn’t happen.

Instead, front page headlines were brutal: “Reports of Detentions and Executions of Foes Despite Taliban Vow of Amnesty,” “Family That Worked With U.S. Buries a Father and Their Hopes,” “Rebuffing Allies, Biden is Sticking to Exit Deadline” and “Miscue After Miscue, Exit Plan Unravels.” And that’s just from the New York Times. Other liberal establishment news outlets—The Washington Post, USA Today, CNN and MSNBC—were equally unsparing.

What explains this sudden reversal on Biden and his presidency, while most Democrats in Congress and governorships stayed silent or followed Biden in blaming his predecessor?

One possibility is remorse.

It is likely that Biden is president today because an enormous negative story about him, broken by the New York Post two weeks before the November election, was either deliberately ignored by the other media—including the social media Twitter and Facebook—or baselessly dismissed as “Russian disinformation.” The New York Post’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were frozen, and neither the newspaper nor any Americans who got wind of the story were permitted to post it on Twitter or Facebook. The news blackout was virtually complete.

The truth, however, could not be buried forever. There are always a few journalists who have the integrity or internal fortitude to report it. One of them was Glenn Greenwald, who resigned from The Intercept, a publishing organization he founded, when its editors insisted that he remove all sections of the New York Post story critical of Biden. Greenwald was finally able to get his story published in the Daily Mail, a U.K. publication, on Oct. 30, 2020, but not in the U.S.

What was this devastating story, which even today—after the election—has never been published in the U.S.? The New York Post’s story came from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, which had been carelessly left with a repair shop in Delaware and never picked up. The repairman, trying to find the owner, opened the laptop and read the materials it contained. He drew the correct conclusions and turned it over to the FBI, which, two years later, has done nothing with it. He also removed the hard drive and gave it to someone who eventually turned it over to the New York Post.

It is not known how Greenwald got copies of the emails, but he said in his article that he confirmed with the recipients that they are authentic. Before Biden was nominated as his party’s presidential nominee, many of Hunter’s business activities were known and discussed in the media, including his appointment to the board of an energy company in Ukraine named Burisma, which paid him a monthly fee of at least $50,000—a princely sum for someone with no experience in the area. When he was vice president, Ukraine was one of the countries for which Joe Biden had been given particular responsibility, and the media had seen and reported a pattern in which he would take Hunter along on official trips abroad, where his son would then negotiate business deals for which he would receive substantial compensation.

Still, while the vice president knew that his son was accompanying him on official trips, there was nothing that directly connected him to what Hunter was doing. When asked about his son by the media, Biden would say, “I know nothing about my son’s business.” When asked by reporters, the campaign would say that the reporter was “spreading Russian disinformation.”

But Greenwald cites two cases in which the Biden’s “I know nothing” claim does not hold up. The first is his effort to obtain the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. Biden was filmed—and the film was widely disseminated in the U.S.—telling others in Ukraine that he had told the president of Ukraine that unless the prosecutor was fired Ukraine would not get $1 billion it had been promised by the United States. He was never asked why the U.S. was interested in a prosecutor in Ukraine, but the prosecutor was dismissed. His replacement, Greenwald reports, had no prosecutorial experience and cleared the company and its chairman of any wrongdoing within 10 months.

The second case is even more damning because Joe Biden was directly involved. This involved China, another country for which he had been given responsibility by President Obama. In this case, an American businessman named Tony Bobulinski, according to Greenwald, had said he had met with Joe and Hunter Biden in connection with a deal in 2017, and produced documents — which the New York Times confirmed in an article published Aug. 29, 2021 (note: seven months after the election) — that show “Hunter Biden and his uncle  James Biden were involved in negotiations about a joint venture with a Chinese energy company called CEFC.” Greenwald also reports that, after reviewing the same documents, Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal reported that they “show Hunter receiving 20% of the equity in the venture and holding another 10% for ‘the big guy’—who Mr. Bobulinski attests is Joe Biden.”

The realization that they violated all journalistic standards in order to put “the big guy”  in the White House is probably an adequate reason to give up protecting him as they have for other Democrats as in the past. 

Peter J. Wallison is an emeritus senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He was White House counsel in the Reagan administration.

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