How Trump’s Hunter Biden Disinformation Campaign Failed

President Trump was already impeached for pursuing this same discredited narrative. Outside of the right-wing bubble, it's seen as a farce.
Rudy Giuliani speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona- August 13, 2016. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Rudy Giuliani speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona- August 13, 2016. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Since its publication on the New York Post’s website, Republicans have been pushing a story that alleges emails obtained by the tabloid provide evidence that Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm. The story is designed to provide credibility to the accusations from right-wing individuals that Hunter Biden’s business dealings were tied to his father. There’s one giant problem with the story. It’s not true. The emails and the story are being investigated as part of a disinformation campaign from a foreign government designed to interfere with the upcoming election.

The so-called contents of the computer that they claim belonged to Hunter Biden was left at a repair shop owned by a Trump supporter and its hard drive was delivered by Rudy Giuliani to the New York Post. Does that sound suspicious? Of course, it does. Because it is. After all, Giuliani is already under federal criminal investigation over whether he violated foreign lobbying laws. Giuliani also collaborated with a Russian intelligence officer his quest to drum up mud that can be thrown at Joe Biden.

If there was even an ounce of truth to these allegations, why did Fox News pass on it over “credibility concerns”? Fox has a record of running right-wing talking points as legitimate news stories in an attempt to wound Democrats or hamper their election chances. Why would they stop now? Even some journalists at the publication that ultimately went ahead and ran the story weren’t convinced of the story. New York Magazine’s Intelligencer reported how people at the New York Post believe the allegations were “very flimsy” and did not meet “journalistic standards”, yet they still published it anyway. Could the decision to publish these dubious claims that have serious credibility questions hanging over them be linked to the close relationship between Rupert Murdoch, who owns the New York Post, and Donald Trump?

Ahead of the debate on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page published an article on text messages purporting to confirm Joe Biden was in the loop on Hunter’s business dealings. That same night, The Wall Street Journal’s news desk published an article debunking that assertion, showing no involvement of Joe Biden.

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If any of this was true, why did an investigation and report by Senate Republicans, released in September, find no evidence that Joe Biden improperly manipulated America’s foreign policy towards Ukraine to benefit his son’s career? Months away from the election, would Republicans not want to weaponize any hint of scandal that they could find?

When the Senate GOP, controlled by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his single-minded approach to electing Republicans up and down the ballot, fails to find any ounce of dirt in an inquiry that was only started to try to tarnish Biden’s presidential campaign, it’s clear that there is nothing to see here. The Obama/Biden administration’s biggest scandal was, and remains, Obama’s tan suit press conference. Republicans have accepted that and that’s why they have turned to dubious conspiracy theories that reputable journalists won’t touch with a barge pole.

The FBI is currently investigating whether the alleged emails are part of a foreign intelligence operation. That’s not a step that they would take lightly. However, looking at an article filled with falsehoods and clearly contrived by Trump’s associates, it’s clear why they felt the need to look into the origins of this story. Media reports, witnesses, intelligence assessments, public statements, and records of meetings show that these allegations have no merit. They are simply conspiracy theories. Although, given the desperate attempt that Republicans have taken as Election Day approaches and the polls show Trump’s grasp on power slipping away, we shouldn’t be surprised at this turn of events. After all, this is the world these Republicans live in.

Using conspiracy theories to try and further their agenda isn’t something new. It’s become a mainstay of Republican politics, as the Tea Party and then Trump took control of the party. The racist birther conspiracy, ‘Spygate’, the Trump Tower wiretapping allegations, the rise of QAnon and their bizarre cryptic hoaxes that claim Trump is fighting against some secret, evil global cabal, combined with Trump’s history of spreading conspiracy theories, make it clear that the GOP is now living in a fantasy world that only exists within their own bubble. Kellyanne Conway’s infamous ‘alternative facts’ phrase might’ve been an amusing insight into the mindset of the Trump administration several years ago but it has since become the dangerous motto of the post-truth approach that they take to politics and the damaging effects that can have.

This was on full display during the final presidential debate, as Donald Trump lied through every topic he was asked and made bizarre claims about everything from windmills to climate change, as well as rehashing the repeatedly debunked conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden. The truth is there was only one candidate on that debate stage who got into trouble for their dealings with Ukraine. That was Donald Trump, who was impeached for an alleged extortion scheme when his administration withheld Ukraine’s aid, as he desperately tried to pressure the country into launching a politically motivated investigation into the Bidens. In spite of being impeached for abuse of power, Trump is still pushing Attorney General Barr to probe the Bidens.

The problem with the GOP’s world is that it has started to seep into and infect the reality that the rest of us operate in. Between October 12-19, the Hunter Biden story received more social media interactions than any other Trump/Biden story. It wasn’t even close. It received 4.7 million social media interactions, far outpacing the 2.8 million interactions that the next most talked about story received, which was about Facebook and Twitter combating this disinformation and slowing the spread of it. Americans should be deeply worried about this situation because it shows that social media has given disinformation a place where it can spread rapidly and reach people who could be influenced, even when companies react quickly and decisively to suppress the content.

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Instead of talking about the Hunter Biden disinformation campaign, the focus should be on the Trump family’s questionable links to China. The New York Times reported how, from his years of pursuing business projects in the country, Trump has a previously unknown bank account in China, which is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management. There’s not currently an accusation of criminality here but there is a clear example of hypocrisy.

For political gain, Trump has criticized US firms for doing business with China and launched a failed trade war, while, at the same time, knowing his business had explored the potential for hotel deals in Asia, trying to exploit the same situation he’s pretended to fundamentally oppose. It’s not just Trump though. His daughter Ivanka Trump has engaged in business dealings with the Chinese government while working in the White House. The Chinese government granted 41 trademarks to companies linked to Ivanka Trump by April 2019, with the trademarks she applied for after her father’s inauguration being approved 40% faster than those requested before the 2016 election victory.

The Republican Party’s shameful attempt to use their own supporters and associates to push their propaganda as legitimate news stories through their favorable contacts in the media has exposed them for what they are: Desperate and willing to do anything to stave off the losses that everyone, including their own advisers, believe are fast approaching.

The conspiracy-filled world that the GOP has resided in over the last few years might be crumbling around them but the impact of it will be felt by them and the American people for a long time to come. The damage it’s done to trust is repairable but not with the current elected officials in charge and certainly not if they get 4 more years in power. The ballot box will not be kind to politicians who attempt to use deception for their own gain in this election.

Rantt Media and ZipRecruiter

Opinion // 2020 / Donald Trump / Elections / Hunter Biden / Joe Biden / Russia / Russian Interference