The Media Research Center continued to desperately try to make Hunter scandals a thing -- then melted down over news of a possible plea deal.
By Terry Krepel Posted 9/29/2023
The Media Research Center hasbeendesperatelytrying to make Hunter Biden happen, and they blame anything and anyone but the complete lack of an actual story for that failure to happen. Geoffrey Dickens seemed to think it might start happening in a May 1 post:
Stunningly, the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks are actually getting out of their censorship mode (for a while) to actually cover the Hunter Biden scandal.
On April 19 The Wall Street Journal reported that a whistleblower who works in the IRS’s criminal investigation division came forward to reveal that the Biden administration is allegedly giving Hunter Biden preferential treatment and has tried to stonewall the investigation into the alleged tax crimes Hunter committed.
Then on April 20, the New York Post reported that now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the catalyst behind the debunked and infamous October 2020 letter from former intelligence officials dismissing the surfacing of Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation.
These incredible revelations actually woke ABC, CBS, NBC out of their Joe Biden-esque sleepy slumber to devote, on their evening, morning and Sunday roundtable shows, a total of 24 minutes, 56 seconds to the Hunter-related scandals from April 19 to April 23. The nets then quickly dropped the story and haven’t even mentioned Hunter's name in 8 days.
The whistleblower story was covered by all three networks.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the earth-shattering news that Blinken was behind the 2020 letter of former intelligence officials that debunked Hunter’s laptop as Russian disinformation.
Since the networks initially bought into this lie it’s not too surprising they’d be reluctant to report on this bit of embarrassing (for them) news.
Dickens didn't mention that 1) the laptop really did look like Russian disinformation, and 2) the pro-Trump New York Post, which first pushed the laptop story, refused to offer any independent verification of the laptop that might have made the story less susceptible to being dismissed as the partisan October surprise it was.
For the rest of the month, it was back to whining that the story remained stuck in the right-wing bubble and cheering occasional outbreaks of it:
It wouldn't be the MRC if it wasn't trying to run up the numbers on purported Biden scandals. Thus, we have a May 11 post by Dickens headlined "11 Brand New Biden Family Scandals the Networks Are CENSORING." (It's also in Spanish.) By our count, the MRC has now claimed to identify 56 separate and distinct "scandals," mostly centering on Hunter, which doesn't seem accurate.
Meanwhile, a May 12 post by Clay Waters complained that the New York Times pointed out that despite all of these partisan accusations against Hunter in particular and the Bidens in general, there has been very little in the way of actual evidence to prove anything:
The same front page featured this blurb to a story on page A18 that had the political scandal roles reversed and the treatment was quite drastically different:
“G.O.P. Lacks Proof on Bidens --After months of investigation and many public accusations of corruption against President Biden and his family, an inquiry by the House G.O.P. has yet to find evidence of misconduct.
The Times’ negative aggression toward Republican oversight of a Democratic president is amazing, especially after years of the paper’s giddy coverage of Trump scandals, with Democrats like Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Eric Swalwell were hailed as heroes in its pages, even if they're not truthful themselves.
As The Federalist’s Jordan Boyd pointed out, the headlines are also factually inaccurate. The GOP may not yet have proof of Biden family misconduct, but they’ve laid out plenty of “evidence.”
The fact that Waters put "evidence" in scare quotes suggests that he knows what Republicans have put out so far isn't really evidence of anything.
Plea deal meltdown
June started out as a slow month of Hunter Biden Derangement at the MRC, spending much of the early part of the month issuing its usual complaint that his alleged scandals weren't being covered in the non-right-wing media as much as Donald Trump's latest indictment. But with news of a plea deal, the MRC went into Hunter Derangement overdrive. Alex Christy complained in a June 20 post:
MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough had a curious reaction to the Tuesday news that Hunter Biden will be pleading guilty to tax and gun-related charges: lash out at Republicans and their “conspiracy theories.” Way Too Early host and Politico White House bureau chief Jonathan Lemire managed to one up Scarborough by adding that developments are “good news” for President Joe Biden.
After legal analyst Joyce Vance ran through the charges, Scarborough focused on what Hunter wasn’t charged with, “Yeah, and Jonathan Lemire, so obviously Republicans-- Trump Republicans have been trying to stir up conspiracy theories left and right. One after another have been disproven. One after another, we found out as the Wall Street Journal editorial page himself said no fire here. A lot of smoke all over the place, no fire.”
In something never said about Robert Mueller and Russia Collusion, Scarborough claimed “Not only have they proven nothing, they have senior members of the Senate saying we don't care whether he's guilty or not, we don’t care whether he did this stuff or not, it's all been a show. Well, that show has just been exposed by Trump's own prosecutor, Trump-appointed prosecutor in Delaware. He's done a deal with him, a plea deal.”
As for Lemire, he also was focused on Republicans and what Hunter wasn’t charged with, “Certainly Republicans have for literally years now accused Hunter Biden of basically everything under the sun, including he's the mastermind behind the Biden Crime Family and corruption and all that, a charge we don’t need to get into now because they were never brought.”
Just because Hunter wasn’t charged with anything corruption-related doesn’t mean what he did wasn’t sleazy and, again, Morning Joe would never say “we don’t need to get into” Russian collusion storylines because no charges of collusion were ever brought.
As Mueller himself pointed out, collusion is not a legal term, meaning that it is impossible for someone to be charged with it, and the Mueller report documented numerous contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives that more than justified an investigation -- something even Senate Republicans admitted.
Nicholas Fondacaro grumbled it was (accurately) pointed out that the plea deal would be partisan fodder for Republicans:
Hunter Biden got a cushy plea deal from his father’s Justice Department on Tuesday, including the possible drop of a felony gun charge no average America would be afforded. Despite securing the sweetheart deal, one of the immediate reactions from CNN News Central was to whine that congressional Republicans were “not going to let this go” as their investigations into possible corruption from the Biden family and interference in the DOJ’s investigation reported by whistleblowers heated up.
“The political dynamics of this ... cannot be understated,” senior Justice correspondent Evan Perez said. He went on to warn that“The Republicans are not going to let this go” as they investigate “what they believe are still some unanswered questions about those financial dealings that Hunter Biden had, other members of the family had overseas, but also just how the Justice Department handled this investigation.”
Fondacaro failed to explain what was supposedly "cushy" about the plea deal.
Christy returned to make the same complaint a couple hours later:
As Republicans reacted to Hunter Biden’s Tuesday plea deal by declaring it to be a “slap on the wrist” and raised concerns about a two-tiered system of justice, the Washington Post’s Leigh Ann Caldwell joined CNN’s Inside Politics to say that such allegations prove that the GOP tends to “leave out a lot of facts.” In an attempt to prove her point, Caldwell also insisted that the Durham Probe proved the FBI has not been politicized.
Host Dana Bash tried to make the argument that Republicans cannot complain because the prosecutor in the case was appointed by Donald Trump, “And as much as we understand the politics and we’re explaining and giving context around the politics, we also should talk about the facts which are it was a Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney in Delaware intentionally kept there by Joe Biden because he knew the investigation was going on, and that these cases are quite different.”
Caldwell naturally agreed, “Yeah, they're absolutely different and when Republicans talk about they leave out a lot of facts in each instance, that kind of walk around and dance around to make it seem like they are similar but these are obviously apple and oranges cases.”
Both Bash and Caldwell are arguing against a straw man. Republicans would agree that the Trump and Hunter cases are apple and oranges, but would say that is exactly the problem. Trump is facing serious accusations related to the retention of classified documents while Hunter avoids serious corruption charges, instead striking a deal on tax misdemeanor that will likely result in him avoiding jail, while the gun felony will likely be dropped as part of a pre-trial diversion agreement.
Like Fondacaro, Christy did not explain exactly how Hunter plea deal was so great.
It’s not just the cast of ABC’s The View that makes fools of themselves on the show, sometimes it’s their guests. Such was the case on Tuesday when ABC chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl joined the cast to report the breaking news that Hunter Biden had agreed to a cushy plea deal with his father’s Justice Department. Karl clownishly claimed “there’s no evidence” to back up GOP claims about the Biden family’s corruption, but he did admit to Hunter’s dubious employment by the Ukraine energy firm, Burisma and the fact he received lavish gifts from China.
Karl’s denial of reality came in an answer to Joy Behar, who wondered: “But doesn't this show, Karl, that Biden is not in the pocket of the DOJ?”
According to Karl, “it depends” on how you look at it. He argued Democrats would say “they prosecuted anyway. His son now has a criminal record.” He began to suggest the prosecution meant there was definitively no interference by the Biden administration but caught himself and hedged his bets. “Yes, that shows it would seem to show there was no interference,” he said.
As if killing the investigation was the only President Biden could interfere, Karl proclaimed: “He didn't pull the plug on the investigation. He didn't order his attorney general to pull the plug on the investigation.” This didn’t take into account that Hunter would be getting out of a felony gun charge with a rehab program.
Karl’s hypocrisy didn’t stop him from decrying the “hypocrisy coming from the Republicans” and them “yelling and screaming about Hunter Biden.” “But that hypocrisy doesn't mean there isn't something fundamentally at issue here with Hunter Biden,” he reluctantly added.
Interns Cassandra DeVries and Ana Schau teamed up for their own complaint:
ABC and CBS both featured segments on Tuesday morning to break the news of Hunter Biden’s guilty plea to two federal charges of tax fraud in his current criminal investigation. Both shows then proceeded to praise his father, President Joe Biden, for his closeness to his son Hunter, and bemoaned the investigation’s negative effects on the President because of this close connection.
Instead of dwelling on Hunter Biden’s illegal actions, which likely would negatively impact Biden’s campaign, ABC and CBS ran a pair of fluff portraying the President as a supportive father, helping his son through a difficult time. Perhaps ABC and CBS should consider a future in political ads.
When one commentator likened the accusations of corruption against Hunter to Trump in-law Jared Kushner getting a $2 billion payoff from Saudi Arabia, Peter Kotara lashed out:
Forget about Hunter Biden and any of the corruption or crimes he has been involved in, what really mattered was Jared Kushner. The problem with that whataboutism is that Hunter Biden was given a lucrative position at Burisma while he had no experience or qualifications for it, aside from being close to his father President Biden. Jared Kushner, however, does have significant qualifications from being, as The Times of Israel puts it, “instrumental in negotiating the Abraham Accords.”
The MRC has previously insisted that Kushner deserved that Saudi payoff. And if the "Abraham Accords" -- which involved three minor Muslim countries normalizing relations with Israel -- were a factor, shouldn't the money have come from Israel?
And this was all on June 20, the day the plea deal was announced. The derangement continued the following day, June 21; Kevin Tober began by complaining that someone defended him:
Failed former Senator and MSNBC political analyst Claire McCaskill took the the airwaves on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House to tearfully lash out at Republicans for wanting to see equal justice under the law and see President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden prosecuted for all the crimes he has been credibly accused of. Instead of arguing for Hunter’s innocence based on the merits, she lashed out in an emotional rant about how mean Republicans are. Despite Hunter receiving a sweetheart plea deal from his father’s Justice Department, McCaskill still wasn’t happy.
“I don't know what America they live in. And I don't know how they sleep at night,” McCaskill proclaimed. “You know, alcoholism and addiction are probably the most pervasive diseases in America. I don't know of one family that hasn't been touched by the pain of these diseases. And it's particularly painful when you have someone you love unconditionally that is suffering from these diseases.”
It’s clear that McCaskill doesn’t follow the news. If she did, she would know that there’s plenty of evidence to file charges against Hunter Biden and eventually his father for their role in the Biden bribery scandal (among other crimes).
Tober actually called McCaskill a "failed senator" twice, presumably referring to her losing re-election. He would never call Donald Trump a "failed president" because he lost re-election.
Fondacaro again called the plea deal "cushy" without offering evidence to back it up:
ABC’s Good Morning America was up in arms Wednesday morning over Republicans calling out what they understand was a two-tier justice system, one where President Biden’s son continued to benefit from the family name by getting a cushy plea deal on tax crimes and a felony gun charge. Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce whined Republicans didn’t care how “painful” this was for President Biden and chief legal analyst Dan Abrams absurdly suggested the Biden name led to harsher treatment.
When Abrams pointed out that the gun-related charge Biden faced is almost never charged by itself without an accompanying related crime, Fondacaro got defensive:
In reality, it’s a hard charge to prove in court. But Hunter had been very open about being using and being addicted to crack at the time he bought and owned his firearm, something rarely present in such cases.
And it’s a lie Hunter had to consciously make. The ATF’s Form 4473, which every gun buyer in America has to read and fill out before the background check and purchase can be completed, makes it known that lying on the form is a felony.
When MSNBC host Joe Scarborough pointed out how Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said that "We aren't interested in whether or not the accusations against Vice President Biden are accurate or not" and that the right-wing Wall Street Journal effectively said there was, in Scarborough's words, "a lot of smoke but no fire" regarding Republican efforts to target Biden -- making it clear that the real "witch hunt" was targeting Biden, not Trump -- Mark Finkelstein went into defense mode:
In other words, far from Scarborough's misrepresentation that Grassley said that there's no evidence of wrongdoing, but that Republicans will go after Hunter regardless, Grassley's point was the document he was demanding that FBI Director Chris Wray make public does contain accusations, but that Grassley would not prejudge it. That's precisely the opposite of a witch hunt!
And Scarborough's misrepresentation of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board column was even more egregious. Scarborough depicted it as concluding: smoke but no fire.
To the contrary, the editorial indicated that there was a ton of evidence pointing to illicit influence peddling by the Bidens. The headline set the tone: "The Biden Family BusinessHouse report shows how Hunter and relatives profited while Joe was Vice President."
This was nothing less than a fraudulent misrepresentation of the facts by Scarborough. It reveals just how deep he was willing to sink in defense of Democrat [sic] political prospects.
Christy grumbled that CNN did something the MRC does -- word counts:
Senior political analyst John Avlon killed all irony on Tuesday’s CNN Tonight as he used some sketchy research to accuse Fox News of being obsessed with Hunter Biden. At the same time, Avlon sought to fact-check Republican claims that a legal double standard exists, but didn’t actually address the main point of the GOP’s allegations.
Avlon kicked off his “reality check” by declaring that “there's a lot of doubling down on this idea of a legal double standard, especially in the wake of Donald Trump's 37-count indictment. But does that stack up to the facts? Well, the investigation first was conducted by a Trump appointee, U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, specifically to reduce concern about politicized results.”
The man who works for the network that spent nearly 97 percent of Trump Indictment Day talking about Trump and mentioned him 191 times on May 25 alone accused Fox of being obsessed with Hunter, “But of course, Hunter Biden has been demonized by the right pretty thoroughly. To use just one measure? Get this, a LexisNexis search found that he was mentioned more than 2,200 times on Fox News between 2020 and 2022. For those doing the math at home, that's well over once a day.”
From January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2022 is a time span of 1,095 days which means that Avlon’s definition of obsessive is two mentions per day. Two! Even worse, NewsBusters tried to reverse engineer CNN’s research and could not duplicate the results. A NewsBusters search of Nexus for Fox News transcripts yielded 2,045 mentions of “Hunter Biden” with each transcript providing for several mentions of Hunter.
At the same, NewsBusters searched CNN transcripts for mentions of “January 6th committee” during the same time span and found 2,374 results. NewsBusters also searched for Trump Jr.", "Trump, Jr.", and "Trump Junior" and got 2,440 results despite Donald Trump Jr. never being charged with a crime.
Christy didn't explain why, exactly, Hunter should have been mentioned an average of twice a day every day for two years considering that, unlike Don Jr., he has not made himself a public figure. He also didn't mention that a few weeks earlier, the MRC published a post by Bill D'Agostino claiming that "Trump was mentioned by name a whopping 399 times" in a 10-hour period on CNN and MSNBC -- never mind that he's the front-running Republican presidential candidate who adores seeing his name in the media and is facing myriad legal challenges. Still, D'Agostino complained that "it’s hard not to agree that the liberal TV news outlets still see him as a ratings gold mine" -- something he will never say (out loud, anyway) about Fox News' obsession with Hunter.
Cassandra DeVries made the usual complaint that Republican obsession with Hunter was called out, playing whataboutism to deflect from it:
CNN This Morning criticized Republicans for spending too much time discussing Hunter Biden’s laptop this Wednesday. Political commentator Errol Louis claimed Americans did not care about President Biden’s son and his alleged crimes and said Republicans did not know how to talk to the country.
Ironically, Louis’s criticism came amid extensive coverage of President Trump’s indictment by CNN, which also did not make this list of acceptable topics that interested voters. Yet, CNN still spent considerable time examining every possible angle of Trump’s case. Perhaps Louis forgot to add Trump’s legal problems to his list of relevant issues.
Throughout his commentary, Louis made broad sweeping claims and conclusions about voters, Republicans, discussion-worthy topics, and political elections. CNN aired these claims as factual news, just as they ran with the Trump-Russia collusion hoax for four years, which was another topic the American people didn’t care about.
Previously, a Democratic president’s son charged with tax fraud and illegal firearm possession might negatively affect that president in the upcoming election. However, according to CNN, Hunter Biden’s charges instead demonstrate that Republicans are incompetent and out-of-touch. Thankfully, Errol Louis helped CNN viewers avoid that assumption.
Fondacaro and bill D'Agostino summarized all this in that day's NewsBusters podcast:
As loud Italians, we sound off on Hunter getting away with a felony gun charge average Americans would be locked up for given the evidence, and call out CNN for their lazy research into Fox News coverage of Hunter’s scandals.
The weak punishment on the felony gun charge had me particularly hot under the collar as NewsBusters’ resident gun guy. I, along with other law-abiding gun owners take filling out the form and gun safety very seriously, so to see the federal government failing to throw the book at the President’s son tells us what the federal government thinks of its own laws.
We also call out ABC for doing the heavy lifting in terms of protecting the Biden administration and making the Biden family look like the victims. I point specifically to the work of chief White House correspondent Mary Bruce and chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl for downplaying the allegations against the Bidens, while tacitly (sometimes overtly) admitting to dubious behavior.
We'd believe Fondacaro's complaint about "weak punishment" more if he and his co-workers didn't labor so hard to defend Donald Trump every time he gets indicted.
The MRC spent a good part of June 23 recycling complains that the Republican obsession with Hunter was commented upon. It was Ana Schau's turn to complain first:
Wednesday morning’s CNN News Central featured a slew of guests to complain about the Republican response to the specifics of the Hunter Biden plea deal, and to present their own opinions on the deal as well. Anchors Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner brought on CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid, “It’s Complicated” podcast host Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor Shan Wu, and former U.S. attorney Michael Moore to rail about how “absolutely not true” Republicans were because they “paint the whole thing as a sham.”
Paula Reid’s complaint was that Republicans had “put a lot of energy and time into” discussing Hunter Biden’s legal issues, and that this was superfluous because the “Trump-appointed U.S. attorney” had “narrowed this case down” to several relatively insignificant charges. She emphasized how the plea deal for the tax misdemeanor charges was absolutely normal, but the gun charge itself was abnormal. She attributed this abnormality to how it was “uncommon to be prosecuted at a federal level for failing to disclose addiction on the form when you purchase a firearm.”
Yes, it may be abnormal to pursue such charges, but it’s also rather abnormal to have a case in which there is proof in the accused’s own words, both in an autobiographical book and on social media, that he was addicted to narcotics during the exact period of time in which he had purchased the gun. Reid may want to consider that.
The morning after the broadcast networks seemingly moved on from Hunter Biden’s cushy plea deal with his father’s Department of Justice, NBC’s Today show revisited the story Thursday morning to decry Republicans’ attempts to hold Democrats accountable. They also huffed at Republicans for censuring Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff (CA) for using his former position on the House Intelligence Committee to push the Russia Collusion Hoax, a censure ABC and CBS ignored.
Leading into the report, Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles lamented that “Republican lawmakers are convinced there's still more dirt to dig up on the president's son” and that they were trying to ensure Hunter’s “legal woes” were “becoming a pestering political problem for his father.”
Intentionally ignoring the audio evidence and whistleblower reports showing that President Biden indeed talked with his son about his oversea business dealing, Nobles rhetorically scoffed at the GOP’s focus on the possible misdeeds of the Biden family:
The MRC got bored with the story after that. A May 24 item by Clay Waters, however, made sure to rehash all the talking points:
Hunter Biden, the controversial son of President Biden, announced he would pled guilty to two federal charges of tax fraud and a felony charge of gun possession last Tuesday, and that evening’s taxpayer-funded PBS News Hour proved itself eager to move along, dismissing Republican accusations of a cushy plea deal from his father’s Department of Justice, appealing to emotion by painting the President as a distraught father who deserves sympathy, not suspicion of possibly benefiting from his son’s sordid business undertakings in China and Ukraine, even suggesting Hunter's plea deal was "somewhat harsher" than usual.
Host Geoff Bennett claimed that “the deal promises a potential end to Hunter Biden's ongoing legal saga. But the political drama is far from over."
Host Bennett ran a soundbite of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy complaining of “the two-tier system in America. If you are the president's leading political opponent, the DOJ tries to literally put you in jail and give you prison time. If you are the president's son, you get a sweetheart deal.”
Johnson tried to deny favoritism was shown to the president’s son, even suggesting Hunter was treated more harshly that he should have been.
Yep, even the complaints about the GOP's obsession with Hunter were repeated.