Somehow Hunter Biden has managed to make himself the common thread that ties together a war in Eastern Europe with everything people dislike about politics in America, while pointing to this country’s collective and completely justified distrust of the media. We are not suggesting that Hunter’s activities in Ukraine have anything to do with Russia’s invasion. But if American citizens agree with the Washington Post, which has adopted the slogan “democracy dies in the darkness,” then we need to ask what voters are to do when the media itself has chosen to turn out the lights?
Yuval Levin is an author, scholar, and former White House advisor who wrote an outstanding book, A Time to Build, that was published right before COVID-19 swept over our country in 2020. The general premise of Dr. Levin’s book is that “Americans have long been losing faith in institutions,” which he defines as “the durable forms of our common life.” Congress, the media, higher education, and the military all count as institutions by Dr. Levin’s standard, some of which have failed so often in what it is we expect them to do that we have quite literally lost our trust in them.
Dr. Levin uses public opinion as tracked by Gallup from the 1970’s through 2018 as one of his measuring sticks. He writes, “The trend in its figures is unmistakable…confidence in our institutions has been falling and falling. In almost every case, the decline was gradual at first, through the 1970’s and 80’s, grew a little steeper in the 1990s, and then accelerated sharply in this century.” Which brings us to today.
Wall Street Journal headlines on March 22 and March 23 exclaimed “Hunter Biden’s Laptop and America’s Crisis of Accountability” and “Why the Biden Laptop Matters Now”. You could be forgiven for forgetting that in October 2020 the New York Post ran a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, since most of the media either ignored the story or claimed it was untrue. WSJ writer Gerard Baker explains the crux of the October Surprise of 2020, “…the allegations in the reporting- that the son of the man favored to become the next president had been selling his high-level family political connections to foreigners, including suggestions of a possible cut for his father-were worth pursuing.” Greed, exploiting political connections, and nepotism are the exact things Americans of all political stripes despise, and they are the exact items we expect our press to bring to light. Only that didn’t happen in this case.
Mr. Baker goes on to explain why the story of Hunter’s laptop was discredited and swept under the rug. “Enough influential people in and out of government—in the foreign-policy-intelligence complex, in the media, and in the big tech firms—were so alarmed that it would affect the outcome (of the election) that they pulled off one of the greatest disappearing tricks since Harry Houdini made that elephant vanish from a New York stage.” It wasn’t until last week, a full 17 months later, that the New York Times finally conceded the contents of the laptop had been authenticated. Traditional media publications seemingly joined forces with social media platforms and intelligence officials to hide the truth from the American public with no repercussions. As Mr. Baker laments, “The deeper shame here is the lack of accountability across American institutions. No one who colluded in this conspiracy against truth has even been inconvenienced by it.”
Holman Jenkins, Mr. Baker’s WSJ colleague, theorizes that the New York Times “…has chosen this moment to rectify its own record on the Hunter Biden laptop” and “…wants to grow up, as if the events of the past three weeks merit a rediscovery of seriousness of purpose.” Let’s hope so. When the institution of the press begins to sync their efforts with the institutions of government and big tech, the American people are the ones who stand to lose. It’s incredible, if not downright criminal or even treasonous, that our institutions plotted to hide the truth from us by pretending the truth just did not exist.
Clearly the media was not alone in duping America about Hunter Biden. But we return to Dr. Levin’s book to explain why that sort of behavior from the press is particularly grating:
“The fact that the degree to which the public has lost faith in the media is on par with the loss of faith in other key institutions suggests there may be no way to counteract this trend without reversing a far larger set of social forces. Yet journalism is different because, as noted above, trust is its currency in a more fundamental sense [emphasis added]. It exists to convey information and cannot perform its basic function if it does not have the trust of its audience.”
It used to be that the media dug deeply into stories and unflinchingly presented facts as they let the court of public opinion decide what was important and what should be done about it. The Hunter Biden “Laptop From Hell”, as Rasmussen Reports has described it, is nothing more than the media stepping in to protect the public from itself, apparently. It is as if they have said, “we don’t trust the American people to act responsibly if we tell them what has really happened.” Why do they think that way? Is it simple elitism that believes they know best and we the people do in fact need to be protected from ourselves? The polling released by Rasmussen Reports on March 24 found that two-thirds of American voters think Hunter’s laptop is important; our media thought we shouldn’t be bothered with the story.
America’s media has devalued its own currency and leaves us wondering where they go without a trusting audience. This incident goes far beyond the liberal bias that Americans have come to expect from the media and moved to intentionally hiding the truth. Hard news was replaced by a coordination between traditional media and big tech to shape public behavior. If the media continues to promote agendas, their pre-determined narratives will almost always win out over the facts.