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Report: Biden Campaign Condemns New York Times for ‘Active Participation in Smear Campaign’ in Private Letter to Dean Baquet

Dean Baquet

The Biden 2020 campaign has sent a withering letter to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, blasting the newspaper’s coverage of their candidate and claiming that the paper has “had an outsized hand in the spread” of a “baseless conspiracy theory” about the former vice president.

According to Oliver Darcy in CNN’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter, deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield fired off the angry message on Wednesday evening, in part prompted by a Times op-ed published earlier in the day that attacked Joe Biden. That column was written by Breitbart contributor Peter Schweizer a Republican opposition researcher who authored the right-wing attack tome Clinton Cash and who has been identified as a source of the baseless claim that Biden engaged in corruption in Ukraine.

“What was especially troubling about the Times‘ active participation in this smear campaign is that prior to its reporting on the subject by Ken Vogel, this conspiracy had been relegated to the likes of Breitbart, Russian propaganda, and another conspiracy theorist, regular Hannity guest John Solomon,” Bedingfield complained to the Times. 

The Biden campaign official’s mention of Vogel was in reference to a long and heavily criticized Times story from this past May, entitled “Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies.” Some critics pointed out errors in the piece,others blasted it for unfairly legitimizing right-wing talking points and omitting key facts about the then-frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary. Vogel’s co-author of the story, Iuliia Mendel, left the paper shortly after that story and became press secretary for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A Times spokesperson both defended the Schweizer op-ed and pushed back at the Biden camp, per CNN.

“The op-ed makes an argument that nonpartisan government watchdogs would make, arguing in favor of a law that would prohibit self-dealing by those with government connections,” the Times rep said. “Our coverage of the Biden campaign and Hunter Biden has been fair and accurate.”

“[We] will continue to cover Joe Biden with the same tough and fair standards we apply to every candidate in the race and we’re happy to sit down with Biden advisers anytime to discuss news coverage,” the spokesperson added.

Read the full letter in Darcy’s Tweet below.

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