MAGA scrambles to repair the Hunter Biden narrative

Source: Politico | October 28, 2020 | Tina Nguyen

Instead of publishing the more salacious allegations, conservative media has been more focused on covering alleged suppression of the story.

Weeks ago, when Rudy Giuluani first threw the contents of Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop online, he promised a trove of even more damning information 10 days before the election.

Yet with less than a week to go, Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is still moving down the conservative media food chain, looking for takers.

The Wall Street Journal and Fox News have both reported finding no evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden benefited from the Hunter Biden business dealings that have drawn scrutiny. More explicitly pro-Trump media outlets — OAN, Breitbart, Newsmax — have mostly shied away from publishing fresher, more salacious allegations. And conservative talking heads — pundits, politicians and loud MAGA Twitter personalities alike — have been more focused on the meta narrative around the laptop, arguing that mainstream media, social media companies and the deep state are conspiring to prevent President Donald Trump’s reelection by suppressing the story.

When Breitbart did touch on new revelations, it preemptively distanced itself, carefully framing a fresh trove of emails as an independent investigation by Peter Schweizer, author of “Clinton Cash,” the 2015 look into the Clinton family’s extensive foreign financial ties that made several overstated or inaccurate claims.

So the story has gone elsewhere. Videos apparently showing Hunter Biden in compromising positions, allegedly obtained from the laptop, have been uploaded to a Chinese website owned partially by Steve Bannon, the former Trump aide who has been helping Giuliani. The explicit photos ended up on Gateway Pundit, a site known for promoting conspiracy theories about various Democratic figures. An email allegedly tying Hunter Biden to a Kazakh oligarch ended up in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, with only a passing mention of Biden. Other details have been published by outlets connected to prominent conservative super PACs.

Ultimately, the bulk of fresh allegations have been reduced to public statements from Tony Bobulinski, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, who found a willing partner in Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday night. Bobulinski got an extensive, 45-minute segment to lay out his case to Carlson’s millions of viewers. Yet elsewhere, Giuliani has groused on his podcast, “Common Sense,” that the public can only find out the truth from him, “because I’m not allowed on main television to tell you these things.”

It’s not the way Trumpworld would have wanted it. As much disdain as the president’s supporters have for the media, their ultimate goal was to place a story in a well-known, conservative-leaning outlet that conclusively showed Biden profiting off his son’s business deals. Doing so would simultaneously establish the conservative media’s journalistic prowess and bolster MAGA claims of mainstream media bias.

But no A-list conservative outlet has published anything living up to those claims. Instead, these outlets have turned their firepower toward other reliable topics: social media bias; deep state plots; and the media’s failure to cover a story they themselves have backed away from, leaving Giuliani and Bobulinski to sell the story to the fringe.

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