Tucker Carlson, Partisan Opinion Host, Rages at Reporters For Doing Their Job on Hunter Biden Story
Tucker Carlson is currently the most influential person in political media.
Yes, that is a shamelessly collar-grabbing lede designed to suck you, dear reader, in. But it’s true: In our current hyperpartisan environment — fueled by balkanized opinion shows designed to reinforce pre-established biases — Carlson is clearly the reigning king.
But the assertion above isn’t just evidenced by his monumental and record-breaking ratings from an exclusive interview with Tony Bobulinksi, the former business partner of Hunter Biden. Carlson has been the main driver of an idea that is now held by many: that there is a deep and dangerous media conspiracy that is irresponsibly designed to fix the election and get former Vice President Joe Biden elected.
The irony in Carlson’s claim, however, is that as an opinion host, his criticism of journalism does not have to abide by the very journalistic standards being followed by those he accuses. The result is that Carlson deploys innuendo and unverifiable claims to smear not just Joe Biden, but also the fourth estate. And his sophistry is getting an enormous pass from millions of people who likely have little discernment between reliable news and unverified analysis.
The Hunter Biden laptop story is a complicated one, by design. A fog of confusion, and yes, perhaps misinformation, is being used as a cudgel to beat up the predictable “mainstream media” bogeymen for completely ignoring the story. This specious claim that is made nearly every programming hour on Fox News, and on thousands of conservative blog pages since the story broke a couple of weeks ago.
How does he do it? He confirms parts of the story like “the laptop is real,” and “these emails are confirmed,” among other assertions, all of which are true, but not necessarily germane to the claim of corruption. The sum total of his suggestions leaves the viewer convinced that something very bad has happened, and it’s a joke that no one is covering this story seriously, when in fact, none of the facts listed prove anything more than what they say.
Questions are raised. It doesn’t really matter if they aren’t answered.
Carlson led his Friday night show by recapping his Tuesday night interview with Bobulinksi. Afterward, he noted, “If you don’t watch this channel, you’ve likely heard nothing at all, not a word and you know why: because the media are collaborating.”
He explained that the media are collaborating with the Democratic party, and with intelligence agencies “that spy on Americans with impunity,” and that they are collaborating with the tech monopolies that have “choked off the average person’s access to legitimate information.”
“We aren’t overstating any of that,” Carlson made clear. “We wish we were.”
Carlson seems to be willfully ignoring that the only reputable news outlet allowed to look at the curiously-sourced material from President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is the Wall Street Journal. The paper found that Hunter Biden was trading on his family name, but did not find any evidence that Joe Biden was involved in the potential deals.
They also found that the so-called “smoking gun” email, in which 10% equity of a business deal with a Chinese Energy company discussed being given to “the big man,” Bobulinski says refers to Joe Biden, never actually came to fruition. The deal with the Chinese company fell through, as Bobulinski has confirmed.
Further, there is zero evidence in Joe Biden’s tax returns that he received any equity or monetary benefit from this planned arrangement. Carlson has also often glossed over the email’s date for this CEFC deal, which was in early 2017 when Joe Biden was out of office and a private citizen.
But Carlson has repeatedly made clear that the details surrounding the Biden family’s business dealings, speculative or not, isn’t the real problem with what is going on here. This isn’t about political corruption as much as it is about media corruption, he argues. And judging purely by texts and Facebook posts from my oldest friends in suburban Kansas City, his message is resonating to a remarkable, and yes, dangerous degree.
The irony here bears repeating. The criticism of journalistic standards comes from an individual who is not held to those very standards by himself or the majority on the network that employs him. He is an opinion host and is free to provide any analysis that he chooses, baseless, or not. On Friday night, that analysis was that the media is corrupt in refusing to cover allegations of corruption leveled at Biden. It was made on a show that has refused to cover allegations of corruption leveled at Trump, of which there are legion.
But at the same time, the news outlets he is calling out for ignoring the story? They actually have been looking into it, but have not been as breathless as Carlson and fellow members of pro-Trump media in touting every twist and turn, regardless of pertinence to the candidacy of Joe Biden.
The Wall Street Journal, which received the Bobulinski documents, reported that “the venture—set up in 2017 after Mr. Biden left the vice presidency and before his presidential campaign—never received proposed funds from the Chinese company or completed any deals, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The paper further reported that “Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden.”
“In the end, the real threat to America isn’t too many nasty questions from reporters, it’s the opposite of that,” Carlson points out. “The real threat is collusion. When journalists strike secret alliances with the very people they are supposed to be holding accountable, we are in deep trouble.”
Another point omitted from Carlson’s indictment of the media is that the alleged documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop have not been provided widely and instead have only been reviewed by New York Post, Fox News, the WSJ, and a handful of conservative outlets.
NBC reported that news outlets that have tried to confirm this story have run into roadblocks. Mediate’s own efforts to obtain the source material have also been ignored.
NBC News published a thorough explainer detailing the efforts they put forth in covering this story, before explaining why they haven’t run with it. NBC News reported that Bobulinski declined an interview request and that Giuliani would not provide NBC with full copies of the emails.
The outlet said it couldn’t confirm the laptop’s sourcing, which yes, appears to be real, and yes, contains verified documents. The most salient point in the NBC News article, co-written by Ken Dilanian and Tom Winter, is the issue of “balance and proportionality” in this story. They write:
Trump, according to the same good government advocates who have criticized Hunter Biden, is ethically challenged when it comes to appearing to use the power of his office to enrich himself and his family. David Farenthold of The Washington Post has used federal and other records to calculate that the federal government has spent at least $2.5 million on food and lodging at Trump properties since Trump took office. Earlier this month, Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska who is up for re-election, told supporters that Trump’s family “has treated the presidency like a business opportunity.”
Yet stories about Trump’s children and their business dealings are not dominating the news cycle in the days before the election, because they have already been covered, just as the Hunter Biden story has been covered. (Trump’s tax information, on the other hand, has been covered extensively by The New York Times, because the secret tax data obtained by the newspaper revealed important new information about his tax payments and his business dealings.)
One could argue that the passage above actually proves Carlson’s point, that the very admission of showing judgment in how and if to cover this story shows bias. But journalism is built around judgment. All good reporting requires solid analysis and reasonable judgment of what is fair, just, and newsworthy.
Carlson this week made a telling news judgment himself.
On Wednesday, Tucker Carlson claimed UPS had lost his package that contained “damning” facts about Hunter Biden, though he declined to say what those “damning” facts were. UPS eventually found the flash drive, Carlson said Thursday night. But he said that out of respect for Hunter Biden; he wasn’t going to cover the allegedly damning files because he didn’t want to pile on the man when he was down.
Tucker Carlson often clarifies that he has no patience for “virtue signaling,” but it’s hard to see his bizarre retreat from the Hunter Biden story as anything else. And by announcing he had “damning” material on Joe Biden’s son, before boasting of his decision not to publicize it, the Fox News host is committing his very own cover-up. Or maybe, there’s nothing to the story after all.
Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson continues to give his audience partisan drivel, while real journalists are doing their job.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.