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The Biden story the US editors won’t touch

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ONE of the virtues of a free press is that no one can force an editor to go with a story he doesn’t like. Right now, the most important US editors don’t like the Joe Biden corruption story, so they are sitting on it. Given that their job is to report the news, good or bad, that seems a little corrupt itself.

This is a flagrant and partisan suppression of news that American voters are entitled to know. A scoop by the New York Post, it has been in the public domain for more than a week and is under FBI investigation. The MSM’s defence is that it’s another Russian hoax like the collusion story between Trump and Putin. But that one, they bought and sold eagerly.

It may be that Biden is so ethically pure as to make Sir Galahad envious. But he and his supporters have a duty to prove it. He wants to be president. Applying the put-it-the-other-way-round test, if such allegations were made against Donald Trump would the media be as silent?

They weren’t when the Steele dossier came out. Nor when the confidential Mueller investigation of Russiagate leaked anti-Trump drips constantly – until Mueller decided there was nothing there. Nor when a second-hand source alleged Trump abused his office in a telephone call to Ukraine’s president and Trump was impeached. They blared it all out like a brass band on the march, anonymous sources and all.

CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl told Trump her network wouldn’t broadcast what he said about the Biden allegations because they were ‘unverified’. Yet the Steele allegations, which damaged the governance of the United States as well as Trump personally, were unverified in 2016-17 and still are. The Mueller leaks were unverified and in one case were denied by Mueller himself. The Ukraine whistleblower had not himself heard the Ukraine conversation but acted on behalf of a fellow anti-Trumper. He didn’t even qualify as a whistleblower under the rules but got all the legal protection a real one would be entitled to.

The intelligence services have discounted Russian involvement. The government knows about the provenance of the emails which indicate shady deals in Ukraine and China involving Biden’s son Hunter when his father was vice president. They were on Hunter’s own laptop. They covered several years and if they are a hoax, it must be one of the most elaborate in history. The Biden family hasn’t denied their truth.

How much verification does an honest media need to run a story, even if only to spin it like a top? Give Fleet Street credit – if something like this happened in the UK, they’d be all over it. CNN’s Jake Tapper told viewers the story was so sleazy that he wouldn’t reveal it. Can anyone imagine Andrew Neil doing that?

The Biden blackout, also involving social media, brings to a head the partisanship on behalf of liberals of the MSM led by the New York Times which sets the agenda for the entire US media and gave the green light to outright opposition to Trump regardless of normal journalistic standards.

No modern American president, not even George W Bush, has been so persistently vilified as Trump on pretexts that have consistently proved false or motivated by bias. This has happened to the extent that the credibility of the media is an unwritten presence on the ballots Americans are casting on their choice for president. If Biden prevails, he can be stamped ‘made in newsrooms’.

Where do the media go next if Trump wins despite their Herculean efforts to destroy him? In fact, where do they go if Biden wins with a huge corruption question-mark hanging over him that has the potential to explode his presidency?

In the first scenario, the media will have to decide whether to continue their relentless attacks on a re-elected Trump despite confirmation by the voters of the legitimacy of their 2016 choice.

Should Biden become president, will they see it as their mission to protect him as resolutely as they did Obama, not just from whatever becomes of the email scandal but also whether he can really function as president despite his age and frailty? What do they do if the emails result in criminal charges?

It is not as if US journalists are unaware of the bind they’ve got themselves into over not just Trump but their relationship with the Republican party.

Matt Taibbi, an independent journalist though long connected with Rolling Stone, wrote: ‘The flow of information in the United States has become so politicized – bottlenecked by an increasingly brazen union of corporate press and tech platforms – that it’s become impossible for American audiences to see news about certain topics absent thickets of propagandistic contextualizing.’ 

Journalist Lee Smith wrote in Tablet that the way the Biden scandal has been smothered ‘provided Americans with an authentically shocking snapshot of the type of ‘managed’ society that we now inhabit…As each corrupted interest rubber stamps each other’s actions, power is removed from public hands and public view.’ 

National Public Radio managing editor Terence Samuel explained that NPR hadn’t reported the story because ‘we don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories and we don’t want to waste our readers and listeners time on stories that are pure distraction.’ Arrogant? NPR gets a $250million annual subsidy from US taxpayers and behaves like the BBC.

US journalism is no longer a trade. The dominant Washington and New York media are now mostly populated with Ivy League graduates and are fully integrated into the system of interlocked ruling elites. A conservative media exists but has much less reach than the liberal press.

It would be reasonable to think that the media know they face a test of their credibility or conscience, but since America is so sharply polarised now, do they care even if it means sanctioning corruption provided it’s by the right people?

When the liberal media first went after Trump, Christiane Amanpour of CNN said journalists needed to abandon balance because they had a duty to the truth – which prompts the question: whose truth? Liberals have no personal monopoly over what is true or not. Their so-called truths often seem objectively questionable. The Biden affair has caught them out again.

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Donald Forbes
Donald Forbes is a retired Anglo-Scottish journalist now living in France who during a 40-year career worked in eastern Europe before and after communism.

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