'Truly off the wall': Journalists debunk Hunter Biden conspiracy theories

'Truly off the wall': Journalists debunk Hunter Biden conspiracy theories
Image via Creative Commons.

Much of the right-wing media has been obsessed with President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, who, in June, reached a plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges. DOJ, in return, agreed to let him avoid prosecution on a gun-related charge.

Hunter Biden has been an ongoing obsession of the right-wing media, including 2015 e-mails found on his laptop — a story that Fox News has recently revisited. In 2020, then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoted a show to those e-mails and Hunter Biden's interactions with Ukrainian energy company Burisma, asking, "Did Joe Biden subvert American foreign policy to enrich his family?"

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler analyzes the Hunter Biden/Ukraine events in a Fact Checker column published on July 17.

READ MORE: Why did Republicans obsessed with Hunter Biden leave Jared and Ivanka alone?

Kessler explains, "The Hunter Biden saga apparently can be endlessly recycled for maximum impact…. However, working with our colleagues in Ukraine in 2019, we carefully documented the legal cases involving the energy company, Burisma, and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky. The information continues to be relevant to assess whether the 2015 e-mail chain provides evidence that Hunter Biden was acting to influence U.S. policy through his father at the time."

Kessler goes on to offer elaborate details on Hunter Biden's public relations efforts on behalf of Burisma. Right-wing media outlets have been promoting former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin's claim that he was ousted for cracking down on Burisma.

The Washington Post journalist, however, concludes, "The available evidence shows that U.S. policy, executed but not developed by Joe Biden, operated independently of his son's efforts to engage a PR firm to burnish Zlochevsky's image. Biden's efforts to oust the prosecutor only plausibly benefited Zlochevsky if Shokin had moved aggressively against Zlochevsky. But documents and interviews instead show Shokin had failed to act — which was a key reason the international community, led by the United States, sought his removal in the first place."

In an article published by Slate on July 17, journalist Molly Olstead examines the connection between right-wing media's Hunter Biden fixation and their intense disdain for FBI Director Christopher A. Wray.

READ MORE: Democrat trolls Jim Jordan over Hunter Biden plea deal freakout

Although Wray is a Republican who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, many MAGA Republicans have accused him of being soft on Hunter Biden. And Olstead lays out several other reasons for the MAGA right's animosity for the FBI — including conspiracy theories that the agency has been "stoking the insurrection," "lying about Ray Epps" and "planting pipe bombs."

Olstead observes, "Here is where we get truly off the wall: Some Republicans believe that the January 6, (2021) raid on the Capitol was encouraged, if not staged, by FBI agents… The 'FBI did January 6' assertion overlaps with theories about Ray Epps, an Arizona Trump supporter who is now suing Fox News for defamation."

The Slate reporter adds, "On his former show, Tucker Carlson had promoted the conspiracy theory that Epps, who was seen urging people into the Capitol on January 6, was actually an undercover FBI agent…. (Rep. Thomas) Massie (R-Kentucky) grilled Wray about why the FBI hadn't found the culprit who placed pipe bombs outside the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee…. He didn't straight-out say it, but Massie seems to think the pipe bombs were a false flag, planted by the FBI."

READ MORE: Republicans order 11 witnesses involved in Hunter Biden probe to testify before House

Glenn Kessler's Washington Post column continues at this link (subscription required). Molly Olstead's Slate article is available here.

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