Let’s do a case study of the ABC’s handling of an important political controversy. That is, the contents of the laptop abandoned in a Delaware repair shop in 2019 by Joe Biden’s dissolute son Hunter. The New York Post exposed it just three weeks before the election. Key to remember is that the ABC loves Joe Biden to distraction, as the comments below demonstrate:
Stan Grant: “Joe Biden’s appeal to decency, to bring Americans together…”
Leigh Sales: “When you talk to people who have spent time around Joe Biden, including Republicans, there is one word that keeps coming up…”extraordinarily decent person”… “the most decent, honourable politician I’ve ever known”…”a person with decency”…
Joe actually leads a sleazy family of grifters. For example, on August 13, 2018, after son Hunter drove to Las Vegas from LA in his Porsche at up to 175mph, one prostitute warned him to stop using more than two prostitutes simultaneously because they might steal his stuff. Hunter has traded on his father’s position to enrich himself by multi-millions. of dollars As a quid pro quo Joe got his cut from Hunter – who whinges at having to hand over half his earnings to Dad as part of their comingled paypacket. In the past decade Hunter was soliciting riches from corrupt Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs and from princelings in China tied to the Communist Party – indeed cash connections extending all the way to China’s then-rising star Xi Jinping.  Joe Biden, as US vice-president and president, denied any knowledge of the drug-addled neophyte Hunter’s business deals.
One 2017 email on the laptop referred to Hunter warehousing for Joe 10 per cent of profits from a multi-billion China belt-and-road funder, called CEFC, associated with Chinese intelligence actors and controlling “more money than God”, said Hunter, who cruised to China on Air Force Two in 2013 when Dad met Xi Jinping. The 10 per cent was for “the big guy”. As one of his partners put it: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u are face to face.”
Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post front-paged the materials. For six hours it seemed an election-winner for Trump – until Twitter and Facebook blocked the story from circulating online, even suspending the Post’s own Twitter account. One post-election poll showed 36 per cent of Democrat voters didn’t know about the laptop, and 13 per cent would not have voted for Biden if they had known.
The ABC’s team was comfortable with Twitter/FB’s censorship jihad and themselves trashed the Post’s story as Russian-inspired disinformation or worthless. They were impressed by 51 retired senior intelligence executives who claimed the story had all the hallmarks of Russian hackdom – citing no evidence whatsoever.
Last month, the New York Times finally conceded Hunter’s laptop contents were the real thing. The Times had suppressed the truth for well over a year. The Washington Post next day sheepishly followed suit.
Contrition? None, of course, and none yet from the ABC. As for those 51 intelligence “experts”, the New York Post splashed their portraits as a rogue’s gallery of lying Deep State operatives. One of them, 28-year CIA veteran John Sipher tweeted: “I lost the election for Trump? Well, then I (feel) pretty good about my influence.”
NOW let’s get forensic about the ABC’s laptop coverage.
First, the Post’s initial bombshell was that Joe Biden was lying that he had no knowledge of Hunter’s lucrative business dealings with dubious offshore players. The laptop emails showed Hunter setting up Joe for a meeting in 2015 with the corrupt Burisma operatives paying the unqualified Hunter $US83,333 a month. However, the laptop’s email wordings were ambiguous whether the meeting was consummated. The ABC repeatedly seized on the “unconsummated” interpretation to protect Joe Biden. After eight months of denials and stonewalling, the White House admitted last year that Joe did attend the meeting at Café Milano’s private Garden Room in Georgetown DC, on April 16, 2015, but claimed it was just a “drop by” because Joe (improbably) wanted to meet a Greek Orthodox priest there and no business was discussed. As Miranda Devine notes, “That’s not how it works. Joe just has to show up and shake hands. All that matters is that Hunter demonstrates his pulling power” to justify pocketing $US83,000 a month.
Among other invitees were Moscow billionaire Elena Baturina and husband, the corrupt Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Baturina the previous year had wired $US3.5 million to Hunter’s business, a transfer US Treasury flagged as a suspicious transaction.
The ABC might now protest that it knew nothing of those dinner facts at the time. But since the facts have emerged, the ABC has declined to inform its Australian public or correct its previous smears.
Here’s the ABC’s reporting timeline.
October 15, 2020:
Associated Press/ABC runs an unsigned explainer about why Facebook and Twitter were suppressing the laptop story. The ABC describes as “an unfounded idea” that Hunter Biden “may have enriched himself by selling his access to his father.” Well, useless crackhead Hunter certainly collected multi-million payoffs from bagmen from America’s antagonists like Russia and China, but for no reason, apparently.
The piece continues, “Disinformation experts have said there are multiple red flags that raise doubts about (the emails’) authenticity [they’re authentic], including questions about whether the laptop actually belongs to Hunter Biden.” [It did]. The ABC quoted one “disinformation expert” that the emails could be either hacked or forged or both. [The emails weren’t hacked or forged or both].
The mere involvement of Trumpers Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani is viewed as “another potential alarm” – though the ABC never viewed as “potential alarms” any leak from double-dealing Democrat FBI/CIA chiefs, hookers, grifters or nameless “officials”.
AP/ABC next spin the story as Twitter and Facebook limiting “hacked” material on their platforms “ahead of the election”, rather than desperately censoring material damaging to candidate Biden. (After the election Twitter CEO Dorsey admitted the emails weren’t hacked, and Facebook never published its promised Fact-Check).
The ABC inserts a correction to the story three months later, walking back a detail that had been over-favorable to Biden.
October 16, 2020:
Planet America with John Barron – also of the US Studies Centre, Sydney University – and “comedian” Chas Licciardello claim that struggling candidate Trump, with Murdoch’s backing, is “desperately resurrecting” his attacks on Hunter Biden.
In a vile ad hominem, Barron in his smart grey suit spits at the legally-blind albino repairer of Hunter’s laptop: “He is a piece of work!” This repairman, Mac Isaac, legally owned the laptop in August 2019 when Hunter failed to pay and collect it. His father, a retired Air Force colonel, reported the contents properly to the FBI, which declined to even receive the laptop. In December 2019, however, the FBI had second thoughts and seized the laptop from Isaac’s shop. In the national uproar, Isaac’s public-spirited act tore his life apart. He got violent threats, feared for his life and closed his thriving business to move interstate. He has since brought suit against Twitter for its lie that he ‘hacked’ the laptop.
Barron also calls the Post story “a pretty poor piece of journalism” and “a very very credulous piece of reporting”. This applies exactly to the ABC’s coverage. If anyone is “a piece of work”, it’s ABC’s John Barron.
The pair agree that Twitter/FB’s censorship is “extraordinary” but put that down to the “fishy” laptop story being “simply bunkum” from Russian hacks and misinformation.
The pair run the gamut of laptop excuses, eg that
♦ Hunter maybe didn’t give the laptop to the repair shop (he did)
♦ Hunter was living in Los Angeles and the shop was in Delaware (pundit Chas seems unaware that for generations the Biden family seat is in Delaware)
♦ The laptop would have been password protected (Well, doh!)
♦ Why didn’t the repairer contact Hunter? (He tried in vain)
♦ The FBI did nothing about the laptop because “there was nothing to it” (No, because the material was dangerous to Joe Biden).
♦ Why didn’t the repairer charge more than $US85? (So what?)
♦ Why would Hunter agree to forfeit the laptop if not collected in 90 days? (Perhaps because he was on crack cocaine and anyway it’s standard repair boilerplate).
♦ Wasn’t it “convenient” the repairer couldn’t recognise Hunter? (Come off it, he was legally blind)
♦ The repairer was a “rabid Trumper” (as were 74m Americans).
♦ The media has to be very careful about foreign election interference and Russian email hacks (except when covering the Democrat-funded “Steele” dossier fakery about prostitutes peeing on Trump’s bed in Moscow).
♦ The emails on the laptop aren’t significant or smoking-guns – “there was nothing actually there”. (So why the unprecedented Twitter/FB crackdown?)
The ABC’s David Lipson runs a three-minute audio piece headed, “America’s top intelligence official dismisses Russian disinformation campaign.” This was a reference to John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence. I thought, “Good for you, David, some honest ABC reporting at last.” But Lipson’s actual audio was the usual disgusting ABC spin. The item was introduced as “Reports of a Russian disinformation campaign” and Lipson, claiming “big questions about the veracity of the story”, next cut to Democrat Congress Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff saying, “The whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin.”
Lipson clings to his conspiracy: “Multiple news outlets have suggested the FBI is investigating whether the report is part of a Russian disinformation campaign.” He then commendably inserts intelligence boss Ratcliffe saying it’s not Russian spooks and he intends to “stop people using the intelligence community to leverage some political initiative.” Lipson scoffs and dismisses Ratcliffe’s words with a sneering,
Here is the kicker! Before his appointment Ratcliffe was a Republican member of Congress and a staunch Trump loyalist who defended the President in his impeachment trial… Now he is America’s most senior intelligence officer and weighing in on an intelligence issue 15 days out from the election!
The trouble with Lipson’s ad hominem is that Ratcliffe was right and Lipson is a goose.
The ABC’s Steven Smiley and Angela Lavoipierre introduce an audio on the laptop: “Donald Trump’s favorite news story is the one about Hunter Biden, he won’t stop bringing it up. By contrast most of the reputable news media will not touch it, and Twitter and Facebook have both put brakes on related posts. But do they have good reason?”
Lavoipierre: Sometimes you end up with a terrible story that might not stack up.
Smiley: Yeah which is a pretty good description of latest chapter to the Hunter Biden saga.
A certain Adi Robertson, who sees herself an expert on office furniture at an obscure US blog, Verge, is quoted damning the laptop story because, or so she claims, the repair-shop man “subscribes to some weird anti-Clinton conspiracy theories” and Trump’s Rudy Giuliani at some point unwittingly endorsed a Ukrainian MP later exposed as a Russian agent.
Democrat leader Adam Schiff is also quoted: “The origins of this whole smear is from the Kremlin. The President [Trump] is only too happy to have Kremlin help to try to amplify it.”
The on-air trio then bruit (without evidence) that the laptop story is a lookalike to how the Russians allegedly hacked the Democrat National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s private servers in 2016. Robertson hedges her bets but says the laptop story is “really troubling” and they agree it’s “dubious” and “really strange if not outright disinformation”. She concedes the censorship is beyond normal Twitter/FB practice — but no, it’s not suppressing a story “that might harm the Biden campaign”. It’s just that social media allowed too much disinformation in 2016, so Twitter/FB are over-correcting: “Once bitten, twice shy.”
They all agree that “many conservatives” claim it’s a violation of free speech, but conclude that the problem is merely “platform power” involving “news distribution”.
The ABC’s Matt Bevan admits the laptop scoops have been coming from the Murdoch Australian press, while US rival outlets “wrestle with whether or not to publish”. Indeed. Bevan sneers that the laptop “supposedly” belonged to Hunter Biden (it did), and that its murky stories of Joe, Hunter and Ukrainian gas company Burisma are inconclusive or false. What Bevan omits is why Burisma was paying Hunter Biden, a libidinous crackhead, $US83,000 a month and billionaires from Moscow and China were showering him with millions.
Bevan touts Russian conspiracy:
“Then, starting at the beginning of 2020, reports emerged [huh?] that Russian government hackers had gained access to the emails of Hunter Biden, and were planning to release them before the 2020 election, timed to do maximum damage to his father’s campaign, in a direct re-running of their 2016 US election interference campaign… Journalists [un-named] at the New York Post have told the New York Times and New York Magazine that they are concerned about the veracity of the story.” [That’s weird because the story was correct.].
There are a few possibilities for what has happened here. One is that Mr Giuliani, despite his recent record of lying about this story repeatedly [no, it’s the ABC lying repeatedly], really did by incredible coincidence come into possession of these materials. [The repair shop owner, after long FBI indifference, turned to Giuliani to make something happen. That’s not an “incredible coincidence”].
The other is that Russian intelligence hacked into Hunter Biden’s information and then laundered what they found through a laptop and a drop at a friendly computer shop. [Yeah right, Matt, taxpayers ought to dock your ABC salary for that nonsense]
Either way, the information on the laptop is highly questionable. [No, it’s accurate].
Which is why American news outlets have been hesitant to touch it. [No, it’s because they are in bed with Democrats and the Bidens].
But Australian media has shown no such qualms. [You mean, the Australian Murdoch media has run rings round the cowardly, truth-suppressing ABC on this affair]
Bevan’s piece required two incidental corrections by the ABC itself.
ABC’s David Lipson surprisingly concedes the laptop is not Russian disinformation. But then he spins it as “more sideshow than showstopper” because Biden probably didn’t attend that Hunter dinner (he did).
Lipson even mentions laptop emails describing Joe Biden “as the ‘Big Guy’ in business deals being sought in China”, but forebears the detail that this “Big Guy” was to be cut in for a secret 10 per cent of the money warehoused by Hunter and Co. Lipson spins: “But the emails are dated May 2017, when Biden was no longer serving as vice-president.” In other words, the Hunter Biden/China financial sleaze was just during Joe’s private capacity, so who cares? Lipson approves Joe’s zinger in the third debate that his tax returns show no “untoward” money. Actually, Matt, politicians keep dirty money out of their financial records and the laptop provides how-to examples.
The ABC’s Echo Hui and Hagar Cohen do a long “investigative” piece about a wealthy Chinese expat blog “New Federal State of China” touting the laptop. The ABC narrative thus associates the scandal with a bunch of what the audience is encouraged to regard as odd/crazy Chinese diaspora activists. This group’s anti-CCP stance is a particular black mark:
Dr Anne Kruger, the director of Asia Pacific at the fact check organisation FirstDraft, studied the group’s operations and said followers flood the internet with questionable material. “Their main tactic is really to try to appeal to people that might have a gripe against the Chinese Communist Party and to push conspiracy theories,” Dr Kruger said
This blog became, say the ABC duo, “the centre of Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal” (what nonsense!). The duo add that “most mainstream US media have not reported the allegations because the source and substance of the material could not be verified.” This Chinese blog, according to ex-members cited, is “very, very dangerous to any country, and the misinformation it recklessly spreads will seriously harm democracy.”
The ABC’s “music and pop culture reporter” Paul Donoughue brazenly instances the “discredited” laptop story, and says Twitter “briefly” stopped users from sharing the “misinformation”. (“Briefly” meaning two of the crucial three weeks until election eve).
Donoughue quotes UWA academic Michael Douglas likening Twitter/FB’s crackdown to legitimate censorship of child exploitation material: “In my view, suppressing dubious content designed to influence an election is also justified.”
Donoughue also cites another deluded academic: “Professor Bruns and other researchers say there is no evidence that social platforms are biased against conservative voices.” Reality: Twitter censored the Trump campaign 625 times from May 31, 2018 to Jan 4, 2021, the Biden campaign, zero.
Despite their favourite sources, the New York Times and Washington Post, now admitting the laptop is bona fide, the ABC reports nothing about it. Another angle the ABC ignores is that Leigh Sales’ chum Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were fined $US8000 and $US105,000 respectively on March 30, 2022, for lying about their $US1 million funding of the anti-Trump “pee” dossier.
Maybe the (hopefully) next-term Morrison government will set up a Truth & Justice Commission into the ABC. It seems needed.
Tony Thomas’ latest essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher ConnorCourt
 Devine, Miranda, Laptop from Hell, Hunter Biden, Big Tech and the Dirty Secrets The President Tried to Hide, Post Hill Press, 2021, p247-8
 Ibid, p61
 “Hunter Biden had business associations with Ye Jianming, Gongwen Dong, and other Chinese nationals linked to the Communist government and People’s Liberation Army. Those associations resulted in millions of dollars in questionable transactions.” Republican-chaired Congressional Investigation Report, September 23, 2020
 Devine, p72
 Ex-VP Joe Biden, wife Jill, brother Jim and Ye Jianming even had keys to Hunter’s business office in Washington DC. — Devine, p184
 Devine, p125
 Hunter referred to another CEFC official as “the f***ing spy chief” and told cronies that CEFC was “coming to be MY partner to be partners with the Bidens.” (Devine, p191). The Bidens windfall from CEFC cash was $US5 million. CEFC founder Ye Jianming gave Hunter a 3.16 carat diamond after their first meeting. In Hunter’s later divorce suit, its value was put at around $US80,000. (Devine, p54).
 Devine , p102