Twitter owner Elon Musk’s revelations late Friday that the company suppressed a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop prompted another settlement for the outlets, which at the time denied the story.
Media watchers don’t think liberal journalists have learned a lesson from the episode.
Musk shared his findings about what led the tech giant to suppress the Hunter Biden story in the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election to journalist Matt Taibbi, who published a lengthy piece on Twitter about what happened behind the scenes. Taibbi focused on the behind-the-scenes events that led to the New York Post story on Twitter that first revealed the sensational contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. “Twitter files” revealed that then-candidate Joe Biden’s team asked Twitter to remove inappropriate links about his son, where the social media platform would immediately “review.”
Some mainstream journalists continued to defend the original discussion of the story in 2020.
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A Washington Post insider cited Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer at the time, as encouraging the story to be treated with extreme caution at first.
“The Central Intelligence Agency said it looked like Russian disinformation — after 2016, it looked like a credible concern. So egg on our faces? No,” they said. “There are good reasons to be very, very cautious and suspicious. Did we make a mistake? Maybe…but we didn’t know it at the time.”
The Washington Post finally authenticated thousands of emails from the laptop last March, about 16 months after Twitter censored the New York Post’s report — but it was the first time a few comments prompted readers to dismiss the controversy entirely. -published comments. His fact-checker, in a later updated excerpt, referred to the laptop as “alleged.” Although the newspaper editorial wrote in April, the development of the story after the laptop’s own authentication was a “reckoning” for the media.
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Network news outlets, like the Washington Post, largely ignored or downplayed the story at first. Over the course of 18 months, ABC, CBS, and NBC spent only 25 minutes discussing the story, often calling it Russian “disinformation.”
A network news insider also cited the timing of the initial incident as reason for caution, but acknowledged that the policy may have been in effect, predicting that similar revelations from a laptop belonging to Donald Trump Jr. would elicit a very different response.
“I think you have to be very careful before the election, especially with late night revelations, October surprise type things,” they said. “Obviously, I think it was a mistake for Twitter to suppress the New York Post story … And their reasoning turned out to be completely wrong.”
“I think news organizations and reporters were too quick to believe that the laptop was a product of Russian disinformation, disinformation,” they added. “That was an assumption that was accepted by many reporters and news organizations. . . . It’s not a stretch to think that if it had been Don Jr.’s laptop, it might have been handled differently.”
Another network insider dismissed the Hunter Biden saga as “outlandish” and a fetch by conservatives, and described it as the public acceptance of Christopher Steele’s information that was mistakenly made, or others that he described as stolen by them. said the media paled in comparison. Russia-based media outlets are investigating the revelations of the John Durham investigation.
“I don’t know which network would feel bad about not covering this story, we really don’t understand, and it seemed suspicious even when it came out,” they said, accusing Twitter of putting their thumb on the scale.
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While the original New York Post story was censored by Twitter, journalists rushed to social media to deny or condemn Musk and Taibbi’s revelations Friday night.
Many criticized Taibbi for even reporting the story, and the Washington Post described the story as Musk was divisive and failed to sway the “will” of Democrats.
The New York Times ignored the story for more than 24 hours until Sunday night when it published a single article titled “Elon Musk, Matt Taibbi, and the Very Modern Media Maelstrom.” The article focused on the atypical fashion that was announced rather than news.
MSNBC only devoted three minutes of coverage, and CNN covered it for 10 minutes over the weekend. CNN’s online coverage was criticized by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who said it “sounds like what any #Resistance maniac would say.”
Sunday’s primetime shows on ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN devoted a total of seven seconds to the story, prompting Musk himself to remain silent.
“I think these people need to look in the mirror and wonder why they’re being conned. Why are they deceiving the American public?” Musk asked. “And instead of pointing the blame at Matt Taibbi, they should take some responsibility themselves for not being truthful with the American public.”
Jeffrey McCall, a professor of journalism at DePauw University, said the lack of interest and limited coverage shown by the institute’s media in response to Musk’s Twitter revelations was “disappointing but not surprising.”
“This muted response is yet another indication that the mainstream media is interested in the political shaping of the public sphere rather than the actual news flow,” McCall said.
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McCall believes that Musk’s explosive revelations would be followed by “an eye-opening time for the big media,” and he publicly admits to the “nonsense way” he has been about laptops since the beginning.
“But to do that requires an honest self-assessment that the mainstream media can’t do on its own,” McCall said, adding that many media outlets would rather “accept the public’s trust” than admit guilt. added that he prefers to do.
“Major outlets certainly still can’t believe they botched the laptop story because ultimately it served their political agenda. The activist media certainly aren’t sorry about that, and they they don’t recognize that journalism has been neglected. It has done a disservice to citizens,” McCall said. “This sad incident shows once again that the noble mission of journalism has been thwarted by the media.”
Fourth Watch editor Steve Krakauer, author of the upcoming book Uncovered, which focuses on the problems with modern media, said Musk was “a bit over the top” but the reaction of “anti-speech activists” was absurd. He called out reporters who claimed to be doing public relations for Musk, rebuked “CNN media hacker” Oliver Darcy for saying an article denying the Twitter files was “true,” and ‘p blasted left-wing NBC News reporter Ben Collins for spending money. There was outrage on Twitter late Friday over Taibbi’s subject, which “probably lacks the most internal scrutiny” of all pundits.
“Acela Media in New York and D.C. is more indifferent to the people of this country than ever. And Twitter is a small bubble that shows this division in its entirety. We see an active interest in setting the record straight. Big mistakes like the Hunter Biden laptop story. And we the press and other elites we see a comfort with power among consensus narrative masters,” Krakauer writes.
“In another era, this would have been an event that shook the entire journalism world,” Krakauer continued. “Now they are part of an elite censorship collusion racket, along with government forces, intelligence agencies and technology companies.”
Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson believes in the mainstream media did Learn from the ‘Unjustified Shutdown of Trading Scheme Affecting Biden Family’ Revealed via Laptop.
“Unfortunately, the most likely wrong lesson has been learned, which is that a concerted effort by the major platforms and the media to help the Democratic candidate can work,” Jacobson said. “I doubt there will be any regrets or deterrence from such action in the future.”
Fox News’ Amy Nelson and Joseph A. Wolfson contributed to this report.