Hunter Biden and the corruption of the liberal media
The Hunter affair has exposed the bias, hypocrisy and intolerance of the modern media elites.
Imagine if Donald Trump Jnr illegally bought a firearm while off his head on crack and then had his girlfriend throw the firearm into a dumpster. And imagine if that girlfriend was the one-time wife of his own brother, Eric. In this alternative universe, Trump Jnr is also ‘wilfully failing’ to pay income tax. And now the cherry on the cake of these borderline Oedipean transgressions by a son of great wealth and privilege – where lowly black rappers like Kodak Black get banged up for illegal possession of a gun, rich, white, Teflon Trump Jnr does not. Not a day in jail for Donald the younger.
We all know what would happen next. The Woke Industrial Complex would crank into action. Furious op-eds would abound. ‘White privilege’ would trend for days – nay, weeks – on social media. ‘Moral degeneracy is fine if you’re wealthy and white’, talking heads on MSNBC would declare with dizzying levels of self-importance. Were Trump Jnr to commit such moral errors they would be weaponised against Trump himself instantly, and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.
And yet all of the above is true of Hunter Biden, and the liberal media seems entirely cool with it. The Woke Industrial Complex is sitting it out. Following a five-year federal investigation of his behaviour, Hunter has reportedly come to a cushy plea agreement with prosecutors. He is set to plead guilty to two misdemeanour tax crimes and to illegally possessing a gun (that’s the one his then lover, the widow of his late brother Beau, threw in the trash behind a grocery store in Wilmington, Delaware). And in return, he’ll likely stay out of jail. Kodak Black must be fuming. He got three years for the same gun offence. It fell to Black’s attorney, Bradford Cohen, to call out the double standards. ‘Two tiers of justice?’, he asked on Instagram this week, to little avail – the NYT, BLM and other modern-day race obsessives who even think a white dude sporting dreadlocks is a horrendous act of ‘white privilege’ seem to be mostly fine with Hunter’s lucky deal.
For me, the most striking thing about this latest twist in the Hunter tale is not the plea agreement itself. I’m open to the view put forward by some legal experts that there’s nothing especially untoward about the deal. Even Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz – a Democrat but far from woke – says the agreement is ‘just about right’. It is ‘fair’, says Dershowitz, who famously defended Trump in his first impeachment trial, to give a first-time alleged misdemeanant a non-prison sentence.
No, it’s the media response to the Hunter affair, the extraordinary lack of media heat, that stands out. We live under a hyper-moralistic media complex. There are very few sordid affairs involving supposedly bad white men that are not gleefully turned into morality tales by the media’s priestly elites. From #MeToo to Trump’s throwaway ‘pussy’ comment to the debauchery of ‘Wall Street bros’, the modern media love nothing more than a parable about the wicked ways of the pale, male and stale of our species. Even what rich white men eat can become the subject of haughty media derision. People magazine made Trump’s penchant for McDonald’s grub into a symbol of America under his rule – ‘cheap’ and ‘too salty’.
And yet when it comes to Hunter – the crack, the ill-begotten gun, the sweet plea deal, the prostitutes, the sex videos, the business dealings – the media suddenly lose interest in moralising on whiteness and maleness and privilege. In fact, the opposite instinct kicks in – they seek to drain judgement of any sort from the Hunter scandals. Some of the coverage of the plea agreement sounds like it could have been written by White House staffers. The Hunter mess is so ‘painful’ for President Biden, says the New York Times; it’s a ‘gaping wound in his heart’. Get a room. It is ‘unhinged’ to claim that Hunter has received special treatment, says the New Yorker, a magazine that once wondered if ‘white people’ are perhaps hosts of a ‘pathogen’ of privilege and racism. Maybe Hunter is immune to that pathogen. Lucky him.
Let’s talk about the use of that word ‘unhinged’ to slam right-wingers who claim Hunter’s plea agreement is proof of political favouritism. Maybe the deal is political, maybe it isn’t; but no fair, rational person can deny that Hunter has benefited from an extraordinary closing of the ranks of the cultural and political establishment. Witness the Hunter laptop scandal, when, in the run-up to the Trump-Biden presidential contest of late 2020, the mainstream media, the social-media oligarchs and the security services all took severe, borderline tyrannical steps to kill a story lest it reflect badly on their preferred candidate for power: old Joe.
Twitter and Facebook made it impossible for people to share the New York Post’s report on Hunter’s laptop. The Post itself was frozen out of Twitter for weeks. Big media outlets falsely called the laptop a ‘non-story’. Former intelligence officials decreed that it had ‘all the classic earmarks’ of a Russian disinformation campaign. The Biden camp conspired with those officials to pour their water on the fire of the laptop. It added up to one of the most sinister acts of disinformation in modern America, a shameful joint effort by the media class and the political class to squash an exposé in order to save the Dems. In the wake of such a disturbing act of authoritarianism surely it would be ‘unhinged’ not to wonder if Hunter is being protected by the powers-that-be once again? Especially when the courts have become the go-to place for the coastal elites who are determined to politically punish Trump. Bidens do okay under the law; Trump not so much.
The woke media normally unleash the dogs of moralism against misbehaving white men of privilege. In Hunter’s case they call the dogs off. ‘The media must not take the bait’ on the right’s Hunter-bashing, decrees Salon. I’m not making the case for pursuing a finger-wagging crusade against Hunter. In fact, in a different era, I could easily see myself feeling sorry for him. The president’s troubled, grief-stricken son whose junky past is forever being splashed across the papers – it can’t be nice.
But the woke media, having invested so much censorious and undemocratic energy into protecting Hunter and his dad from public scrutiny, made Hunter into a story. They turned his name into a byword for media-political collusion. Their actions on Hunter prove that much of the media in the woke era is little more than an extension of the establishment itself, happy to be the enforcer of the technocratic elites’ interests and diktats. This is why Hunter’s name continues to loom large in the political life of the United States: because of liberals, not right-wingers. Let’s not moralise over Hunter’s strange and tragic life – let’s put pressure on the media to explain why they moralise over everybody except Hunter.
Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy
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