It was the classic October Surprise. Just weeks before the presidential election, conservative newspaper the New York Post released a bombshell report claiming that Joe Biden’s son Hunter had introduced his then vice-president father to top executives at Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, just months before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor investigating the company.
The report was allegedly based on information from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, who, despite not having any relevant qualifications, sat on Burisma’s board, earning $50,000 per month for doing so.
In situations where one outlet publishes a huge scoop, it has become the journalistic norm for other outlets to produce copycat stories, reporting on the reporting. For example, when The New York Times claimed in June that Russia had been paying Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, virtually the entire media landscape followed suit, repeating the questionable allegations. Yet this was not the case this time. Corporate media either ignored the Post’s report altogether or attacked it as “dubious” (CNN) “disinformation” (The Economist) a “conspiracy” (NBC News), “fake news” (The Guardian), or part of a Russian plan to take Biden down (CNN).