Tuesday, June 15, 2021

PolitiFact accidentally tells the truth about the Hunter Biden laptop

PolitiFact tried so hard to bury the Hunter Biden laptop story in a June 14, 2021 story that it ended up accidentally telling the truth about it.

Donald Trump claimed that he was "right about everything" and PolitiFact published its article to contest that claim item by item. Trump said the "Biden laptop was real," apparently trying to make the point that the Hunter Biden laptop story the mainstream media largely ignored in the runup to the 2020 election was truly based on Hunter Biden's laptop.

PolitiFact's telling:

'Hunter Biden’s laptop was real'

It was real in the sense that it exists, but it didn’t prove much. 

Trump allies obtained a laptop or copies of a laptop during the 2020 campaign that allegedly belonged to Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. Over time, there has been less doubt that the laptop did in fact belong to Hunter Biden, though how the laptop came to be obtained by Trump allies and Trump-friendly media outlets is unclear.

Conservative media have done quite a bit of reporting on how the laptop ended up in Rudy Giuliani's hands, not to mention those of the FBI. We find it interesting that PolitiFact declined to report on or link to any of those details. Instead of providing those details, PolitiFact gave us Hunter Biden's side of things and a link to that story:

Hunter Biden has been open about his history as a recovering drug addict; he’s said it’s possible the laptop was stolen from him.

Did you know the FBI is investigating Hunter Biden's business dealing with China? No? PolitiFact apparently doesn't, either. Or at least PolitiFact figured it's not relevant to this story

PolitiFact wraps up the section on Biden's laptop by accidentally telling the truth:

Nothing from the laptop has revealed illegal or unethical behavior by Joe Biden as vice president with regard to his son’s tenure as a director for Burisma, a Ukraine-based natural gas company.
Though PolitiFact's statement isn't even necessarily true in itself, it tells a series of truths in what it doesn't say. It doesn't say whether the laptop shows illegal or unethical behavior as vice president not regarding Hunter Biden's (apparently well-paid) tenure with Burisma.

What can't we fit through the loophole PolitiFact leaves open?

PolitiFact's statement is compatible with each of the following prospective assertions about what the laptop shows:

  • Illegal behavior by Joe Biden while not serving as vice president
  • Unethical behavior by Joe Biden while not serving as vice president
  • Illegal behavior by Vice President Biden unrelated to Hunter Biden's role as a Burisma employee
  • Unethical behavior by VP Biden unrelated to Hunter Biden's role as a Burisma employee

We're not saying any of the statements on our list is necessarily true. We're saying PolitiFact's disclaimer about what the Hunter Biden laptop doesn't show is so laughably narrow that it's incriminating.

Why?

Why would any news organization, let alone a fact-checking organization, include such a preposterous caveat in a story? It looks designed to mislead readers. 

If it's just simple incompetence, it's of the kind that looks much worse than simple incompetence. It looks like an attempt to deceive readers.

That's a bad look.


Typo correction June 15, 2021: Bursima=.Burisma

Correction June 16, 2021: Fixed some flawed text formatting and changed "It doesn't say whether the laptop shows illegal or unethical behavior as vice president regarding Hunter Biden's (apparently well-paid) tenure with Burisma" to "It doesn't say whether the laptop shows illegal or unethical behavior as vice president not regarding Hunter Biden's (apparently well-paid) tenure with Burisma." Our apologies for any confusion our error caused.

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