The laptop’s cousin’s lawyer’s sex tape’s emails

Mother Jones on the Giuliani/New York Post “bombshell”:

On Wednesday, the New York Post released what it hailed as a bombshell: an unidentified computer repair store owner in Delaware had come to possess a laptop that contained Hunter Biden emails (and purportedly a sex tape), the hard drive and computer was seized by the FBI, the store owner at some point passed a copy of the hard drive to Rudy Giuliani, and one of the emails suggested that Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, may have in 2015 introduced a Burisma official to his dad, Vice President Joe Biden. The story depicts this as a big scandal, and Guiliani tweeted, “Much more to come.” 

Got all that? No, me neither. I can’t be bothered, because Giuliani and the Post? Pfff.

But the key point of the article was predicated on false information that Giuliani has been spreading for a long time—and that appears to be linked to a Russian disinformation operation that the Post neglected to note in its article. That is, the Post piece, based on an unproven smear, is in sync with Moscow’s ongoing effort to influence the 2020 election to help President Donald Trump retain power. (The FBI and other parts of the US intelligence community have stated that Vladimir Putin is once again attacking the US political system to boost Trump.)

And the news media should be reporting that, not this bullshit story.

Rupert Murdoch’s paper is using this one email to revive the Ukrainian scandal that Giuliani has been trying to gin up for over a year. (This crusade included trying to raise $10 million to make a documentary that would be released before the election.) And don’t forget that it was Giuliani and Trump’s search for Ukrainian dirt that led to Trump’s impeachment. 

And don’t forget what a Trump-licking sleaze Giuliani has shown himself to be.

The Post, Fox, and the Trump campaign will try to turn this disinformation and whatever else might be on that laptop into an October Surprise. The big question is how the rest of the media will contend with this, especially if Giuliani or others keep leaking other material (which may or may not be legitimate) from this computer. Will reporters at other outlets repeat the mistakes of 2016 and focus obsessively on these leads without examining the source or investigating the operation that put them into play? Will they wittingly or not assist an obvious ploy to generate headlines that suggest there is a new scandal about old (and already disproven) allegations? Will they fall for it? 

If they’re Maggie Haberman they will.

On Wednesday morning, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted out the Post story and its headline referring to a “smoking-gun email.” Subsequently, she posted tweets taking a more skeptical view of the story. To his credit, Chris Megerian, the White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, quickly pointed out, “The story does not say that allegations of Ukrainian corruption have been pushed by Russia to undermine Joe Biden, according to U.S. intelligence officials. Nor does it mention that Rudy Giuliani has worked with a Ukrainian lawmaker identified as a Russian agent.”  Facebook executive Andy Stone noted that the social media giant would limit the Post article’s distribution on its platform. 

Three weeks.

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