CNN, MSNBC dismissed Hunter Biden’s laptop as ‘Russian disinformation’ until liberal narrative was deflated
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CNN and MSNBC each spent months downplaying the relevancy of Hunter Biden’s scandalous laptop, often chalking it up as “Russian disinformation,” but the liberal networks haven’t spent much time on the infamous computer since its authenticity was confirmed.
Last week, the Washington Post published a bombshell report about Hunter Biden’s multimillion-dollar deal with a Chinese energy company, which has been swept up in the DOJ’s investigation of his tax affairs and overseas business dealings. As part of its reporting, the Post was able to authenticate the contents of Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop.
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The Post’s confirmation came two years after liberal media outlets downplayed the bombshell report from the New York Post in the final weeks leading up to the 2020 election that put a spotlight on Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings overseas based on damning emails that emerged from his laptop. At the time, the liberal talking point du jour was that the computer was the result of a “Russian disinformation” campaign designed to help keep then-President Trump in office.
The reporting from the Washington Post came days after the New York Times released its own report which also authenticated the laptop.
However, when then Post became the second liberal newspaper to confirm the laptop as authentic, CNN and MSNBC spent far more time covering Trump’s recent remarks urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to look for “answers” regarding Hunter Biden’s business dealings than the Hunter Biden scandal itself. The laptop received zero coverage on CNN and MSNBC primetime shows the first two nights after the Post debunked the narrative that the laptop was an elaborate Kremlin plot, according to Grabien transcripts.
Since the Post confirmed the laptop on March 30 through Tuesday afternoon, MSNBC has only mentioned it once, according to Grabien transcripts. The single mention came when a guest on far-left weekend host Tiffany Cross’s program sarcastically mentioned the laptop in passing during a report on Trump in an attempt to mock Republicans.
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CNN mentioned it during only three different segments through the same time period, all during reports updating viewers on the Justice Department’s probe of the president’s son that didn’t specify the laptop isn’t Russia disinformation after all.
NewsBusters deputy managing editor Nicholas Fondacaro is baffled that CNN and MSNBC wouldn’t attempt to restore some credibility by admitting they botched the original story.
“With the media’s approval rating being as low as it is, you’d think coming clean and covering the facts of the Hunter scandal would be in their best interest in trying to boost that number and claw back some credibility. But it seems like they would prefer to obfuscate the story and hope it blows over, so they don’t have to admit they were using their own political desires to frame the story and mislead the public ahead of a critical election,” Fondacaro told Fox News Digital.
“CNN has been generally tight-lipped about the new revelations, but MSNBC has allowed hosts and guests to snipe at the story here and there,” he continued. “Instead of addressing the facts as confirmed by the Washington Post, the network is still allowing them to dismiss it as a ridiculous thing being talked about by elements on the right.”
CNN and MSNBC weren’t the only culprits, as other outlets including NBC News and CBS News both featured pundits who also insisted the laptop was Russian disinformation.
While the laptop isn’t a high priority for CNN and MSNBC these days, it was a hot topic in the fall of 2020. CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” was particularly egregious on Oct. 16, 2020 when Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., joined the liberal network to discuss the Post’s reporting.
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Blitzer quickly declared, “Serious questions tonight about whether the Russians are using Rudy Giuliani to interfere in the U.S. presidential election … There are fears that what Giuliani is now pushing here in the United States could actually be part of Russia’s latest and very massive disinformation campaign in the U.S. presidential election.”
CNN senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt responded that Russia’s disinformation campaign was “massive indeed” before reporting the FBI was investigating whether the laptop was part of the alleged scheme.
“We are being told by two people who’ve been briefed on what the FBI is doing that they’re looking into whether these unverified e-mails about Hunter Biden that were published earlier this week by the New York Post about his business dealings in Ukraine and China are part of these bigger Russian disinformation efforts in the 2020 election,” Marquardt said.
Schiff was on hand to defend Hunter Biden – who once admitted he smoked Parmesan cheese because he thought it was crack – to CNN’s audience, too.
“We know that this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin. That’s been clear for well over a year now that they’ve been pushing this false narrative about the vice president and his son,” Schiff told Blitzer. “Clearly, the origins of this whole smear are from the Kremlin.”
Blitzer then knocked then-President Trump for “holding up a copy of the New York Post touting this conspiracy theory” inside the Oval Office, and Schiff was on the same page as the CNN anchor.
“Another wonderful propaganda coup from Vladimir Putin, seeing the President of the United States holding up a newspaper promoting Kremlin propaganda. It’s really incredible,” Schiff said.
Blitzer and Schiff went on to call the laptop story a “false narrative” put out by the Kremlin as they agreed with each other’s every word.
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That same day, CNN national security analyst James Clapper joined “OutFront with Erin Burnett” to help dismiss the laptop.
“This is a classic, textbook, Soviet, Russian trade craft at work. Russians analyze the target, they understand that the president, and his enablers crave dirt on Vice President Biden, whether it is real, or contrived, it doesn’t matter to them,” Clapper said. “So, all of a sudden, two-and-a-half weeks before the election, this laptop appears, somehow, without – and emails on it without any metadata. It’s all very curious.”
Burnett then asked if details from particular emails could be accurate or if “stuff like that could have just been planted” on the laptop but is “completely fake.”
“I think the emails could be contrived,” Clapper said.
A week later, CNN’s Jake Tapper said claims against Hunter Biden were “so heinous I’m not even gonna say them” during analysis of the second presidential debate.
“U.S. authorities are seeing if those emails we just talked about are connected to an ongoing Russian disinformation effort,” CNN’s Brian Stelter said that same month.
The “Reliable Sources” host also hypothesized that the contents of the laptop could be made up, arguing that the story was a “classic example” of the “right-wing media machine.”
CNN aired countless other examples of its anchors and reporters attempting to discredit the laptop, such as a December 2020 moment when Jim Acosta claimed Trump was “obsessed with Joe Biden’s son, Hunter” while dismissing any wrongdoing.
“It is just more fake news. Actually, I find it very sad to watch,” Acosta said.
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CNN declined comment when asked if anyone at the network still feels the laptop was Russia disinformation.
CNN has recently begun acknowledging that Hunter Biden could be in hot water as a federal probe into his business activities heats up. CNN was previously caught spiking the Hunter Biden laptop story in the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election, according to recordings released by Project Veritas in December 2020.
While CNN was arguably the most anti-Trump network during former boss Jeff Zucker’s era, it was hardly the only liberal organization to dismiss the laptop.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who is currently letting her show’s ratings suffer while she takes an extended, multi-week hiatus, even called it a “smear campaign” against Biden.
“We start this hour with the tale of international espionage connected to a close confidante of the President of the United States,” MSNBC’s Ali Velshi said on Oct. 17, 2020. “The president was reportedly warned that his personal attorney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was the target of a Russian intelligence operation, a story that is unraveling to reveal allegations of disinformation, dirty tricks and a federal probe over Russian efforts to disparage Joe Biden.”
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” namesake Joe Scarborough declared the Post article was “false” when making an augment that Twitter didn’t need to censor “one of the stupidest October surprises” he’d ever seen.
“There is a New York Post article that is false,” Scarborough bluntly said on Oct. 15, 2020. “It’s much better for Twitter to let people read The New York Post article and sit there and laugh at the hokie story of a computer repairman looking at a computer, going, ‘This sure does look suspicious to me. I’m going to call Rudy Giuliani.’”
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MSNBC’s Joy Reid referred to criticism of Hunter Biden as “nefarious conspiracy theories” and Rick Wilson, a co-founder of the disgraced Lincoln Project, appeared on MSNBC to call Trump a hypocrite for putting a spotlight on Hunter Biden when his own children were “making money off the presidency.”
Biden campaign advisor Symone Sanders appeared on MSNBC on Oct. 22, 2020 and bluntly stated that any attempts by then-President Trump to amplify the story would be viewed as “Russian misinformation.” Sanders now is an MSNBC contributor herself.
“It is so obviously a Russian operation,” MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson parroted less than a week earlier.
Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson feels the liberal cable news options should dedicate significant time to educating Americans on the truth.
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“CNN and MSNBC, which pushed the false claim the laptop was Russian disinformation harder than anyone, need to come clean in a manner befitting their media malpractice. Perhaps an hour of prime time devoted to reporting the authenticity and content of the suppressed Hunter Biden laptop information would be in order,” Jacobson told Fox News Digital.
MSNBC did not respond to a request for comment when asked if any staffers still feel the laptop was Russian disinformation.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.