Biden's campaign blasts The New York Times for spreading right-wing conspiracy theories in scorching letter to Dean Baquet

Biden's campaign blasts The New York Times for spreading right-wing conspiracy theories in scorching letter to Dean Baquet
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 6, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain] / ABC News screenshot
Election '20

The deputy campaign manager of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has sent a letter to The New York Times taking it to task for the way that publication has covered the whole sequence of events in Ukraine. The letter can best be described as righteous. It not only delivers a completely justified kick to executive editor Dean Baquet over the Times’ “outsized hand in the spread of a baseless conspiracy,” but also reminds the outlet just how often, and badly, it failed in its reporting in the last election cycle: “We write to protest how little The New York Times has internalized the sobering lessons of 2016.”

Back in May, months before the term “whistleblower” began to dominate the headlines, there was still one place to go where mentions of Joe Biden and Ukraine frequently came together. At the beginning of that month, The New York Times was all too happy to serve as a mouthpiece for Rudy Giuliani, repeating his conspiracy theories about Biden’s actions and his son’s position. Times reporter Kenneth Vogel is now busily posting tweets claiming that he broke the Ukraine story, but only if that means that he dutifully repeated what Giuliani told him and repeated long-debunked claims. In fact, that article gets the basic facts of the story wrong on the two most critical points. It reports that Joe Biden acted at a time when the company where Biden’s son worked was “in the sights” of a prosecutor that Biden pushed to have removed, and that “the current Ukrainian prosecutor general [chose] to reverse himself and reopen an investigation.” Neither of these statements had any basis in fact.

There was no investigation into the company where Hunter Biden served on the board at the time of Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine. And the prosecutor general had not reopened any such investigation.

The first of these statements was simply wrong, part of a long-debunked conspiracy theory put forward by right-wing elements at the time. But the second was worse, because it appears to have been nothing but a flat-out lie passed along to The New York Times, and dutifully printed, straight from the lips of Rudy Giuliani. Less than a week later, Bloomberg did what The New York Times did not—it sent reporters to Ukraine to investigate. And their very first report absolutely destroyed everything Giuliani and the Times were pushing.

You don’t have to be a fan of Joe Biden to be a fan of this letter. Because Baquet has been steering The New York Times down a path where repeating right-wing lies has become standard practice.

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