New York Times publishes Biden smear from discredited, Wikipedia-plagiarizing right-wing hack

New York Times publishes Biden smear from discredited, Wikipedia-plagiarizing right-wing hack
Joe Biden image via BBC Screengrab

At first I literally could not believe my eyes this morning. I blinked several times, but no, it was still there. The New York Times just posted an op-ed by one of the nation’s most infamous rightwing smear mongers, identifying him only as an “investigative journalist.”


First, some background from Media Matters:

Peter Schweizer is a discredited author who writes error-filled books targeting Democratic figures, such as his 2015 book Clinton Cash, which formed the basis of a much-debunked right-wing conspiracy theory about the sale of a uranium mining company to a Russian agency.

“Discredited author” is putting it mildly. Schweizer isn’t just the author of the infamous tome Clinton Cash; he’s a paid rightwing smear artist, a Breitbart Senior Editor at large, and president of Steve Bannon’s and Robert Mercer’s right-wing think tank/sludge generator known as the Government Accountability Institute. His latest publishing effort seeks to further the rightwing narrative about the supposedly nefarious dealings of Joe Biden on behalf of his son, Hunter, regarding the latter’s involvement with Ukraine.

Last year, Schweizer re-emerged with a new tome, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, which presents the right’s case against Biden, seeking to implicate the candidate in the business schemes of his son, who doubtlessly enjoyed opportunities granted him by virtue of his famous last name.

As detailed extensively this week by Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker, Schweizer’s invented smear was the impetus for Donald Trump’s attempt to extort the Ukrainian government to manufacture phony “dirt” on Joe and Hunter Biden. It is, in effect, the rotten core festering at the heart of this particular display of the current administration’s criminality, for which Trump now finds himself facing impeachment.

As for Schweizer’s book? The Daily Beast notes that much of it is plagiarized, lifting passages directly, or nearly directly, from Wikipedia and other sources.

The Daily Beast found more than a dozen instances in which Secret Empires, the bestselling book by investigative journalist Peter Schweizer, copied nearly complete sentences or sizable portions of them verbatim or near-verbatim from other sources. In a number of instances, those sources were uncited Wikipedia pages created before the book’s publication in early 2018.

Yet here we have the so-called “paper of record” recruiting this liar to publish a hit piece on Biden, barely disguised as a plaintive lament about “Washington” corruption that somehow, miraculously, fails to mention Donald Trump—without even bothering to identify who he is for their readership? And lo and behold, since its publication, the rightwing media has been churning it up—after all the New York Times has bought into the scam.

It’s not as if this guy’s paper trail was unknown, either. There are multiple articles this week alone from many reputable journalistic sources detailing Schweizer’s hackery. His work is something to be shunned and derided, not to be republished by any institution that prides itself in any way on journalistic integrity. And possibly the worst aspect of this is that the Times is doing exactly what it did in 2016: sanitizing and laundering the right’s lies.

Clinton Cash’s release relied on Bannon’s strategy of trying to “weaponize” the story by filtering it directly through the pages of major mainstream outlets. Several outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, “made exclusive agreements” with Schweizer, receiving chapters of the book they could read and report out prior to its publication. Crucially, even when the resulting articles indicated that aspects of the story didn’t hold up, they still helped give the allegations oxygen.

So—what the fuck, New York Times? Which one of your geniuses made the decision to publish this guy’s drivel?

This goes well beyond “disgraceful.” It’s appalling.

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