A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.
But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. On October 14 and then October 15, 2020, The New York Post, the nation’s oldest newspaper, published two news reports on Joe Biden’s activities in Ukraine and China that raised serious questions about his integrity and ethics: specifically whether he and his family were trading on his name and influence to generate profit for themselves. The Post said that the documents were obtained from a laptop left by Joe Biden’s son Hunter at a repair shop.
From the start, the evidence of authenticity was overwhelming. The Post published obviously genuine photos of Hunter that were taken from the laptop. Investigations from media outlets found people who had received the emails in real-time and they compared the emails in their possession to the ones in the Post‘s archive, and they matched word-for-word. One of Hunter’s own business associates involved in many of these deals, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed publicly and in interviews that the key emails were genuine and that they referenced Joe Biden’s profit participation in one deal being pursued in China. A forensics analyst issued a report concluding the archive had all the earmarks of authenticity. Not even the Bidens denied that the emails were real: something they of course would have done if they had been forged or altered. In sum, as someone who has reported on numerous large archives similar to this one and was faced with the heavy burden of ensuring the documents were genuine before risking one’s career and reputation by reporting them, it was clear early on that all the key metrics demonstrated that these documents were real.
Despite all that, former intelligence officials such as Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led a group of dozens of former spooks in issuing a public statement that disseminated an outright lie: namely, that the laptop was “Russian disinformation.” Note that this phrase contains two separate assertions: 1) the documents came from Russia and 2) they are fake (“disinformation”). The intelligence officials admitted in this letter that — in their words — “we do not know if the emails are genuine or not,” and also admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” Yet it repeatedly insinuated that everyone should nonetheless believe this:
Letter from 60 former intelligence officials about the New York Post reporting, Oct. 19, 2020
But the complete lack of evidence for these claims — that even these career CIA liars acknowledged plagued their assertions — did not stop the corporate media or Big Tech from repeating this lie over and over, and, far worse, using this lie to censor this reporting from the internet. One of the first to spread this lie was the co-queen of Russiagate frauds, Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico and now promoted, because of lies like this, to CNN. “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say,” blared her headline in Politico on October 19, just five days after the Post began its reporting. From there, virtually every media outlet — CNN, NBC News, PBS, Huffington Post, The Intercept, and too many others to count — began completely ignoring the substance of the reporting and instead spread the lie over and over that these documents were the by-product of Russian disinformation.
On October 21 — exactly one week after the Post‘s first report — The Intercept published a false story under the melodramatic headline “We’re Not a Democracy” about these materials from former New York Times reporter James Risen. This propaganda assault masquerading as “news” mindlessly laundered the CIA’s lies about the laptop. This is what appeared in this outlet that still claims to do “adversarial” reporting:
Their latest falsehood once again involves Biden, Ukraine, and a laptop mysteriously discovered in a computer repair shop and passed to the New York Post….This week, a group of former intelligence officials issued a letter saying that the Giuliani laptop story has the classic trademarks of Russian disinformation.
Note that even the intelligence officials, who acknowledged they had no evidence to support this claim, were more honest than The Intercept, which omitted that critical admission. Days later, this very same outlet — which I co-founded seven years earlier to be adversarial, not subservient, to evidence-free assertions from the intelligence community, and which was designed to be an antidote to rather than a clone of The New York Times — told me that I could not publish the article I had written about the Biden archive because it did not meet their lofty and rigorous editorial standards: the same lofty and rigorous editorial standards that led to uncritical endorsement of the CIA’s lies just days earlier. It was that episode, as Matt Taibbi recounted at the time, that prompted my resignation from the outlet I created in protest of this censorship, in order to report instead only on free speech platforms such as this one.
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