NPR Receives Backlash for Dismissing Hunter Biden Laptop Reports

NPR Receives Backlash for Dismissing Hunter Biden Laptop Reports
Then-vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden attend an NCAA basketball game between Georgetown University and Duke University in Washington on Jan. 30, 2010. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

NPR said it has ignored ongoing reporting surrounding a laptop and emails that purportedly belonged to Joe Biden's son and revealed his overseas business dealings.

NPR public editor Kelly McBride published an inquiry on its website Thursday from a listener who did not understand why the outlet was ignoring the story.

“Someone please explain why NPR has apparently not reported on the Joe Biden, Hunter Biden story in the last week or so that Joe did know about Hunter's business connections in Europe that Joe had previously denied having knowledge?” listener Carolyn Abbott asked.

McBride responded in saying there are "many, many red flags" in an investigation carried out by the New York Post, which last week published reports that were sourced from the alleged laptop hard drive. NPR then went on to repeat claims that Russia is attempting to interfere in the election.

“Even if Russia can’t be positively connected to this information, the story of how Trump associates Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani came into a copy of this computer hard drive has not been verified and seems suspect. And if that story could be verified, the NY Post did no forensic work to convince consumers that the emails and photos that are the basis for their report have not been altered,” McBride said, adding: “But the biggest reason you haven’t heard much on NPR about the Post story is that the assertions don’t amount to much.”

Her response included a statement from NPR managing editor Terence Samuel.

“We don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions. And quite frankly, that's where we ended up, this was … a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way,” Samuel said.

The claims that the reports are part of a Russian disinformation plot were dismissed by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

The FBI, meanwhile, did not dispute Ratcliffe's statements earlier this week.

FBI Assistant Director Jill C. Tyson sent a letter to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to Johnson’s request for more information about the emails, reports around which have alleged that Hunter Biden tried to introduce a Ukrainian businessman to his father when he served as vice president in the Obama administration. The law enforcement agency said it has “nothing to add at this time” to Ratcliffe's statement.

A number of conservatives and allies of President Donald Trump criticized NPR following its decision to publish the inquiry.

"Wow. Foreign corruption from a major party is not considered news for taxpayer-funded #fakenews NPR," wrote the America First PAC on Twitter in response.

It came as Twitter and Facebook also announced they would either block or limit the reach of the NY Post's reports. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany's account and a Trump campaign account were also blocked. The Senate Judiciary Committee, as a result, voted to issue subpoenas on Thursday to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to appear before the committee after raising concerns about censorship and election interference.

Biden’s campaign has denied that he ever met with a Ukrainian gas company official, which was allegedly revealed in a trove of emails that purportedly were found on a laptop hard drive belonging to his son, Hunter, who sat on the company’s board while his father was the vice president. The NY Post also obtained a hard drive containing the emails from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Other allegations have surfaced in recent reports over the days, including from a former Hunter Biden associate who confirmed the legitimacy of an email.

“The Attorney General of Delaware’s office indicated that the FBI has ‘ongoing investigations regarding the veracity of this entire story.’ And it would be unsurprising for an investigation of a disinformation action involving Rudy Giuliani and those assisting him to involve questions about money laundering, especially since there are other documented inquiries into his dealings," the campaign said.

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