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Classified Docs At CNS: The Double Standard, Part 2

After defending Donald Trump over his possession of classified documents, lashed out at President Biden when classified documents were found at his properties -- at least until some were also found at Mike Pence's house.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/12/2023

Craig Bannister

When Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate was raided by the FBI in August in search of classified documents he refused to return,'s coverage was filled with right-wing spin that sympathetically portrayed Trump as a victim of bias. When classified documents were discovered at offices Joe Biden used between his stints as vice president and president -- which he returned with incident -- CNS made sure to crank up the outrage machine over such possession (which it didn't do regarding Trump). Susan Jones set the tone in a Jan. 10 article:
After all the fuss about top secret documents found at President Donald Trump's Florida estate, it turns out that former Vice President Joe Biden also had documents "with classified markings" in his possession.

The classified documents were discovered in office space formerly used by Joe Biden at the University of Pennsylvania's Biden Center in Washington, D.C., on November 2, 2022 -- six days before the general election.

But we're just hearing about it now, from a statement released by the White House Counsel's Office, which reads as follows:

Jones then went on to uncritically quote Republicans eager to insist that this was somehow much worse than Trump's situation:

Democrats say Biden's case is different than Trump's because Biden's attorneys volunteered the information and sent the documents -- fewer than Trump had -- to the Archives without being asked. Trump reportedly failed to cooperate with the Archives' repeated demands for the return of classified documents in his possession.

But Republicans say Biden has just as much to answer for, as the following tweets from Republican politicians indicate:

-- “Biden stole classified documents and stored them at his think tank while he was VP. The VP does not have any authority to declassify classified documents. And this “think tank” received $54 million in funding from the CCP," Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) tweeted on Monday.

-- "Re. Biden and classified documents: there can't be separate standards for Republicans and Democrats. The same rules must apply to everyone," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted.

-- "Joe Biden stole classified documents. This is a very serious crime. DOJ & NARA can’t sweep this under the rug AND persecute Trump," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted on Monday.


-- "It’s just been discovered that Biden had HIGHLY CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS that were improperly stored in one of his private offices. INCREDIBLE! WHERE is the FBI? WHERE is the dramatic raid? We have two systems of justice in this country: one for them and one for us," Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) tweeted.

CNS then fired up its right-wing talking points machine over the next several days:

CNS also pulled its usual stunt of devoting more than one article to pushing the same exact story:

By contrast, CNS published significantly fewer articles focused on Biden's side of the story in this same time period:

Another of these articles, by Jones, quoted Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a "Michigan Democrat who formerly worked as a CIA analyst," as pointing out how Republicans are seizing on the the Biden documents as a "political talking point" -- but then immediately followed it with a statement from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy laughably denying any political motivation "in his choppy fashion."

It wouldn't be CNS if it wasn't mounting some weird, tangentally related attack of Biden over this, and Craig Bannister obliged in a Jan. 13 article:

Despite his insistence that Americans embrace electric vehicles, President Joe Biden treasures his gasoline-powered 1967 Corvette Stingray so much that he stored it next to the documents marked “classified” found at his Delaware home.

Two batches of documents marked “classified” kept by Biden have reportedly been discovered, the second of which Biden says had been kept next to his Corvette in a garage.

Biden admitted at a press conference on Thursday that he had kept documents that bore classification markings next to his Corvette in what he called “a locked garage” at his Delaware home.

The admission prompted the Oil and Gas Association to tweet out a photo and a few facts about Biden’s coveted Corvette – including that it’s not electric:

CNS regularly parrots talking points sent out by the oil and gas industry.

There was also a strange Jan. 13 column by Josh Hammer, who went straight for a "deep state" conspiracy theory:

But perhaps the most pressing question is: Why? Why was there a leak to CBS News just now, over two months after Biden attorneys discovered the first tranche of classified documents deep in the bowels of a Penn Biden Center office? Why has there been such a slow, drip-drip, dramatic leaking and reporting of various classified document tranches throughout this whole week?

It is thoroughly unsurprising that the federal law enforcement apparatus and the corporate media buried the news of Biden's malfeasance on the precipice of the midterm elections. The "Democrat-Media Complex," as the late Andrew Breitbart called it, demands nothing less than such complicity.

But the timing of the leak from various federal law enforcement actors now, just as Biden is beginning his second term, suggests there is real internal turmoil over at the Democratic National Committee. Perhaps someone at the DNC instructed deep state spooks that now would be a particularly propitious time to leak sordid details to the media. Perhaps someone at the DNC thought that Joe Biden did his job by shepherding his party through the midterms without succumbing to the much-feared "red wave," but that he is now disposable and should be replaced at the ballot in 2024 by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA). Loath though I am to speculate, it is difficult to think of a sounder explanation as to why, only now, all of this is coming out.

No evidence of this is offered, of course.

Week 2 -- and ignoring Pence

CNS went into its second week of covering the Biden classified documents story the way it covered the first week -- with lots of attacks on Biden:

And, as in the first week, there were significantly fewer articles that focused on Biden's side of the story:

There was also a Jan. 24 column by Daily Signal writer Fred Lucas -- a former CNS reporter -- complaining that the National Archives "declined to answer whether anyone told the agency not to notify the public or Congress about the classified documents that were found to have been stored at the Penn Biden Center before the 2022 midterm elections in November" though it "issued 10 separate statements from January to December regarding documents it has not received from former President Donald Trump.." He didn't mention that Biden has apparently been cooperative through the entire process while Trump has been antagonistic and deceitful.

But when classified documents were discovered at former Vice President Mike Pence's home in Indiana, CNS' tone changed drastically from how it treated Biden. Melanie Arter blandly wrote about it in a Jan. 24 article:

Former Vice President Mike Pence notified the National Archives last Wednesday that a small batch of classified documents were found last week at his residence in Indiana.

According to Pence’s lawyer, the documents were “inadvertently boxed and transported” to Pence’s home at the end of the Trump administration, and the former vice president was “unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence.”

You will not be surprised to learn that CNS did not publish article after article of Democrats criticizing Pence's alleged recklessness in harboring classified documents or fret about the national security implications. Instead, a Jan. 25 article by Jones complained that the Pence discovery got Biden off the hook and showed a "systemic" issue:

Revelations that another vice president -- Mike Pence -- had classified documents at his home in Indiana is taking some of the media heat off former Vice President and now President Joe Biden -- just as the discovery of classified documents in Biden's possession took some of heat off former President Donald Trump.

"So now this appears systemic," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), now a former member of the House intelligence committee, told MSNBC on Tuesday as the news about Pence broke while he was being interviewed.

"It certainly appears now that there's a systemic problem with former occupants of the presidency and vice presidency having classified information at their homes, when it shouldn't be there; or at their libraries or their university repositories," Schiff told host Andrea Mitchell.

That was followed by a Jan. 26 article by Craig Bannister noting that "the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) formally asked the presidents and vice presidents of the last six administrations to re-check their personal records for any classified documents or presidential records they may “inadvertently” have in their possession."

There was also a Jan. 25 article by Jones featuring Republican Sen. Marco Rubio quipping that "I think the executive branch needs to hire better movers" while referencing document issues involving Trump and Biden -- but not mentioning Pence.

But, really, CNS wanted to get back to keeping the classified-document focus on Biden. A Jan. 25 article by Jones stated:

"We're investigating the Biden family for influence-peddling," Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said on Wednesday, as the discovery of classified documents in the home of former Vice President Mike Pence home prompted media defenders of Joe Biden to describe the problem as "systemic."

More followed:

Because why let the facts get in the way of a partisan narrative?

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