Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has issued a fall-in-line directive to journalists, demanding that they report that the corruption claims against him have been debunked and call them conspiracy theories.
It’s an astonishing level of chutzpah, but not the first for Biden. Clearly Democrats are comfortable telling the media how to report in a way Republicans would never dream of being.
“The Imperative for Honest Coverage of Trump’s Ukraine Conspiracy Theory,” was distributed to mainstream media outlets and told journalists that the charge that then-Vice President Biden strong-armed Ukrainian leaders to fire a prosecutor by threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid was nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.” Biden was the Obama administration’s point man in Ukraine at the same time as his son, Hunter Biden, was on the Board of Directors of Burisma, the largest Ukrainian oil company and rife with corruption. The prosecutor’s investigation was zeroing in on Burisma.
Biden famously boasted to the Council on Foreign Relations that he told Ukraine’s leaders his plane was leaving in six hours and if they didn’t fire the prosecutor they would not get the $1 billion. The fired prosecutor, Victor Shokin, was removed in that timeframe, Biden bragged on video.
Because the impeachment is technically over President Trump’s phone call to the new Ukrainian president, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform to sweep out the incumbent, Republicans have been calling for Hunter Biden to testify. The idea is that if the corruption was real, the President of the United States had not only the authority but the duty to investigate it and even name names.
But Biden’s campaign will have none of it. Biden’s communications director, Kate Bedingfield, wrote to reporters and editors in the memo that Trump’s “objective was to pressure the Ukrainian government into spreading a malicious and conclusively debunked conspiracy theory: that Vice President Biden engaged in wrongdoing when he executed official United States policy to remove a corrupt prosecutor from office.”
Bedingfield all but ordered the media to report “clearly and unambiguously that [such claims of corruption] have been discredited and debunked.” Not doing so would be journalistic “malpractice,” the Democrat operative lectured the journalists.
She wrote that “Virtually every major media organization has definitively debunked this accusation” and went on to name a few — who it turns out were all relying on one report. The memo goes on: “It is not sufficient to say the allegations are ‘unsubstantiated’ or that ‘no evidence has emerged to support them.’ Not only is there ‘no evidence’ for Republicans’ main argument against the Vice President — there is a mountain of evidence that actively debunks it. And it is malpractice to ignore that truth.”
This is a jaw-dropping memo, particularly for someone such as myself who spent 25 years in the mainstream media. Journalists would normally have bristled at such arrogant orders and would redouble their efforts to report on it. But that is not today’s media. I can hear today’s journalists saying, “Well, they make a good point.”
MSNBC anchor Heidi Przybla said on air that the memo is “a preemptive strike against the disinformation that is really at the heart of the president’s defense…that the entire premise of the [Trump] argument is debunked. It is not just unsubstantiated,” she said, literally mouthing the words of the memo as though her own.
Biden has done this before. According to the New York Times, in September 2019, “[Biden’s] presidential campaign contacted top television anchors and networks on Sunday to ‘demand’ that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, be kept off the air because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family and Ukraine.”
The Times continued: “‘We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,’” a pair of top Biden campaign advisers, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, wrote in the letter. “Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism.”
And in October of 2019 Biden’s campaign staff sent letters to Facebook, Twitter and Google demanding they take down a social media ad from Trump’s campaign which the Biden campaign said contained false claims.
Interestingly, in reporting on this letter, Reuters used the phraseology that is now a hot key for journalists: “Trump has repeatedly made allegations, without evidence, that Biden engaged in improper dealings in Ukraine.”
“Without evidence,” even when any casual observer can see there is actually more evidence of Biden doing what Trump is being impeached for doing than there is Trump of doing it. But the “without evidence” line had been used by Biden and his people since the CFR video arose. The media keep saying what the Biden campaign keeps saying, that this has been looked into and there is no evidence, but they never say who looked into it.
It’s pretty safe to say we will see the most recent memo’s language get traction throughout the media beyond MSNBC. Biden’s people have done this repeatedly, because they know the media fall in line.
The partisanship of the media could not be more clear.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.