President Biden and his official representatives, whether members of his legal team or part of the White House’s press office, as well as his surrogates in the Democrat Party, find themselves drowning in scandal.
With House oversight committees now in the hands of Republicans, the Biden administration can no longer spurn demands for documents and answers to questions related to President Joe Biden’s involvement in and profiting from his son Hunter’s international financial entanglements. Add to that long-ignored scandal the incoming flood of questions concerning the discovery of three separate batches of unsecured classified documents dating back to his time as vice president, and we have a perfect storm set to destroy Biden’s presidency.
But Biden need not fret, as the legacy media have dispatched their journalists to moonlight as a PR team for the president, as best exemplified by The New York Times’ lengthy piece from last week, “Hunter Biden’s Tangled Tale Comes Front and Center.” The Times is not alone, however, in spinning the scandals. While it is still early days, here are four narratives that have already launched.
1. Republicans Pounce
No matter the scandal, the Democrat-defending media reflexively run with the “Republicans pounce” formula, and so the coverage of the investigations into Biden’s financial dealings and his mishandling of classified material predictably followed that approach. The story became about Republicans’ reaction to the scandal, not the scandal itself.
“Republicans pounced on the discovery on Saturday of more classified documents at Joe Biden’s residence, accusing the president of hypocrisy and questioning why the records were not brought to light earlier,” The Guardian opened its coverage of the revelation that Biden had stored classified documents at him home, in addition to in a closet at a D.C. office building.
Other outlets, such as CNN, moved away from the overused “Republicans pounce” framing, substituting “attack” for the overworn cliché: “As House Republicans officially take over Congress and clamor to investigate the Biden administration, a new line of attack fell squarely into their laps: classified documents recovered from one of President Joe Biden’s private offices when he served as vice president,” CNN began its coverage of the growing list of investigations Biden faces.
While the “pounced,” “attacked,” “seized,” and other thesaurus-ready descriptors of Republicans’ responses to the scandals permeate much of the corrupt media’s coverage of the Joe Biden scandals, The New York Times deserves accolades for creativity, with the Old Gray Lady making the story about Republicans in a fresh new way.
“The way Republicans tell it,” the Times opened, “President Biden has been complicit in a long-running scheme to profit from his position in public life through shady dealings around the world engineered by his son, Hunter Biden.” Then over the course of some 6,000 words, the Times presented the Biden family’s tale as its own.
While not the “Republican pounce” headline conservatives expect, this new introductory technique allows apologists in the press to divert attention away from the story by presenting the news as mere claims made by Republicans. The Times, however, quickly reverted to the pounced-light “attack” charge to soften the financial scandal, to wit:
After his father became vice president, Hunter Biden, a 52-year-old Yale-educated lawyer, forged business relationships with foreign interests that brought him millions of dollars, raised questions about whether he was cashing in on his family name, set off alarms among government officials about potential conflicts of interest, and provided Republicans an opening for years of attacks on his father.
2. Poor Hunter
The New York Times’ nearly 6,000-word tome also introduced the prominent “poor Hunter” spin, hoping pity for the surviving Biden son would diminish the scandals — or at least sidetrack readers.
“And after the death of his brother, Beau, in 2015, Hunter descended into a spiral of addiction and tawdry and self-destructive behavior,” the Times told readers. Stressing Hunter is sober now, the supposed standard-bearer of journalism then framed his legal troubles as “stemming from his behavior during his most troubled years.” And as for Hunter lying on a form he filled out to purchase a handgun in 2018, falsely saying he was not using drugs, the Times sought to downplay any such charges by noting that Hunter “has openly acknowledged his years of struggle with drugs and alcohol…”
The potential gun charges and the tax evasion charges being looked into by the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office, the Times claimed “trace back” to a time when Hunter had “intensifying problems with addiction and his loss of relationships with three of the people closest to him: a longtime colleague, his wife and his brother.” The Times then spoke of Hunter’s business manager as his “safety net” who was in on the Biden family secret: Hunter’s alcoholism. But it was Beau, Hunter’s older brother, who ensured Hunter “attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and steered him back toward sobriety whenever he relapsed.”
“After Beau died of brain cancer in 2015,” the Times explained, “Hunter had another relapse and, for the first time, his brother was not there to help him. Hunter brought his drinking briefly back under control, but the first anniversary of Beau’s death sent him into a spiral of depression that led to an addiction to crack cocaine.”
On and on the New York Times went, adding details of Hunter’s failed marriage, his unsuccessful stints in rehab, and his toxic relationship with Beau’s widow. Then, once softened up by the sob story, the Times took to transcribing the Biden version of Hunter’s financial dealings and President Biden’s supposed lack of involvement in the pay-to-play scandals.
3. Orange Man Bad
One approach the corrupt media seems convinced will work to vindicate Joe Biden, though, is to focus on Donald Trump. The corporate press immediately resorted to this tactic to dampen the scandal swirling around Biden’s mishandling of classified documents from his time as Obama’s vice president.
Since news first broke that some 10 documents marked classified — including some marked top secret — had been discovered in a closet at a D.C. office building housing a think tank connected to Biden, the left-leaning press paraded for its audience all the ways Trump’s handling of classified documents was supposedly worse.
Biden immediately cooperated with the National Archives, his apologists stressed; Biden had only misplaced a fraction of the documents Trump had retained, the corporate media intoned. Of course, the media ignored Biden’s own condemnation of the mishandling of classified documents as “irresponsible,” because the bottom line for the press and other TV personalities is clear: That the 46th president mishandled classified documents doesn’t matter because Trump is a liar and a thief, and Biden isn’t.
The Orange Man Bad defense also made an appearance in the article the Times published to counter the evidence of corrupt business dealings by the Biden family. Seeking to make the overwhelming evidence of Biden family corruption about Trump, the Times claimed Trump had attempted “to muscle Ukraine into helping him sully the Bidens,” for which Trump was later impeached.
Legacy media outlets are likewise framing the forthcoming investigations of FBI malfeasance as about Donald Trump. “The new House Republican majority plans to create a special committee that could serve as a one-stop shop for investigating perceived wrongdoing by the federal government against conservatives, including former president Donald Trump,” NBC News opened its piece reporting on the establishment of a Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. The network then quoted at length Democrats who framed the committee as nothing but a Trump “MAGA Grievance Subcommittee.”
From the early coverage, then, it appears Democrats and their paramours in the press plan to ignore the overwhelming evidence of FBI misconduct and peddle the Orange Man Bad narrative. But while Trump may be a polarizing figure, it is doubtful his glow will blind Americans to the many ways the FBI and other government agencies were weaponized, including against parents and scientists dissenting from the Covid party line.
4. Americans Want GOP to Solve Real Problems
A fourth narrative the complicit press is pushing to advantage their Democrat friends seeks to silence the scandals entirely by pretending that any investigation interferes with Congress’s ability to solve the serious problems facing our country.
Again, we see a legacy network, this time CBS News, providing this pro-Democrat spin by polling Americans on their preferred priorities for the upcoming Congress. “Inflation remains a concern, and Americans across the political spectrum want Congress to focus on it, amid the usual calls for bipartisanship from most of the nation,” CBS News said, pushing its poll of 2,144 Americans. The article then highlighted the “big bipartisan majorities” that “say Congress should address inflation, reduce crime, and protect Social Security and Medicare.”
In contrast, CBS News noted, “over half of today’s Republican identifiers also put a ‘high priority’ on the House investigating the president, and also his son, Hunter Biden — especially those who define themselves as part of the MAGA movement.” “Most Americans, and most non-MAGA Republicans, do not agree,” CBS News stressed, gifting Democrats the “Americans want Congress to focus on the real issues facing the country and not Hunter Biden” talking point.
But it is not an either-or proposition: Republicans and the House can address inflation and corruption at the same time. And the focus of the House Oversight Committee is just that: oversight. Likewise, the new subcommittee’s focus on the weaponization of the FBI and the rest of the bureau’s friends in the federal government takes nothing away from Republicans attempting to address serious problems our country faces.
Nonetheless, the corrupt media will likely push the narrative that any Republican investigation distracts from addressing the country’s real problems. But as disingenuous as it is, at least that narrative acknowledges the reality of the mess America is in thanks to the Biden administration.
Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.
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