What will Joe Biden do to help Hunter Biden? Fox News has a new story with a familiar plot line. Apparently, Joe Biden (while still Vice President), operating at Hunter Biden’s request, tried to discourage Bloomberg News from publishing a story about Hunter Biden.
The story is coming to light now thanks to emails that America First Legal (AFL) obtained through its lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The emails indicated that there was some correlation between Joe Biden’s office, Hunter Biden’s company, and the media.
Here’s what happened (according to Fox):
On December 8th, 2015, The New York Times wrote that the “credibility of the vice president’s anticorruption message may have been undermined” on account of Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma Holdings. Then, later on December 8th, Eric Schwerin (the president of Hunter’s investment firm Rosemont Seneca Partners) asked Joe Biden’s communications director, Kate Bedingfield, if other media outlets would be following up on the Times story. Bedingfield got back to Schwerin immediately, telling him that a Bloomberg reporter was on the trail, but that Bedingfield was working to convince the reporter “to not use it.”
“VP just finished an interview with the Bloomberg reporter traveling with us and she asked about it, though she assures me she’s doing everything she can to not use it,” Bedingfield wrote to Schwerin. “I will have a transcript soon but my quick notes on his answer are: No one has any doubt about my record on corruption, I don’t talk to my son about us business and my children don’t talk to me about mine, I have complete faith in my son.”
Schwerin responded: “I would just urge her (as I know you are doing) that there is no new news there. And even if she uses it – she should avoid getting into past stories (Navy, etc.) that have nothing to do with this.”
“Absolutely,” Bedingfield replied, “we have had two conversations about it – she will only use if her editors hold a gun to her head. She absolutely will not do the second thing”
The next day, Bloomberg did publish a short story in which Joe Biden defended Hunter. With excerpts from the interview given aboard Air Force Two, the article quoted Biden as saying, “I don’t have any doubt about my son,” with respect to his work.
Both Schwerin and Bedingfield were irritated with the story.
The Bigger Picture
Biden criticism from Fox News should be taken with a grain of salt – yet, Biden-world has been accused of attempting to cover-up negative press re: Hunter Biden before.
In one sense, efforts to manage the media are standard and benign. Politicians and companies and even just regular old citizens want to be portrayed favorably in the media. Kate Bedingfield’s entire purpose as communications director is to spin her boss’s administration favorably to the media. But when spinning, or curating, or managing the media morphs into an effort to actively suppress a story – that can be problematic.
I couldn’t approximate exactly where that line is. Certainly, any time a public official actively attempts to dissuade the media from publishing something because that something would be damaging to the official – that’s crossing a line.
But is it crossing the line when a public official dissuades the media because the official believes the story is not relevant? Maybe that’s too fine a distinction – meaning maybe public officials should be wary about asking reporters to hold off on something.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.