So-called intelligence officials who famously dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as “Russian disinformation” have never apologized for their incorrect determination.
Twitter and other social media platforms went to great lengths to suppress the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden, locking the outlet as well as several high profile conservatives out of their accounts.
More than a dozen officials signed onto a public letter dismissing the Hunter Biden laptop, which was first reported by The Post and The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We are all individuals who devoted significant portions of our lives to national security,” the letter read. “All of us have an understanding of the wide range of Russian overt and covert activities that undermine U.S. national security, with some of us knowing Russian behavior intimately, as we worked to defend our nation against it for a career.” (RELATED: CNN Reporter Says ‘Some Want You To Think’ Twitter Censoring Hunter Biden Story Was Censorship)
The letter said “the arrival on the U.S. political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
The intelligence officials went on to admit that they could not verify whether the emails were “genuine” and said they did “not have evidence of Russian involvement” other than their suspicions.
The officials also assumed that the laptop and its contents were meant to “discredit Biden.”
In November 2022, CBS News reported that it had successfully authenticated the laptop, arriving at the same conclusion the Daily Caller News Foundation reached more than two years earlier.
The Daily Caller reached out to letter signatories Jim Clapper, Mike Hayden, Leon Panetta, Thomas Finger, John McLaughlin, Michael Morell, Paul Kolbe, Stephen Slick, Cynthia Strand, Kristin Wood and Ron Marks to ask how they determined the laptop was fake and whether they stood by their initial assessments. None responded.
But it’s not just the so-called “intel” officials who got it horrifically wrong. Politico ran the story as fact rather than a possibility.
Natasha Bertrand, who authored the Politico story, headlined the piece definitively as “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.”
For starters, the “intel officials” cast doubt on their own determination by clearly stating that they had no evidence to back up their belief that the laptop was Russian disinformation. To make matters worse for Bertrand’s unfounded piece, then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe dismissed allegations of “Russian disinformation” almost immediately after the Post released the story.
“Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” Ratcliffe said. The FBI and DOJ concurred with Ratcliffe’s assessment.
The FBI & DOJ concur with DNI Ratcliffe’s assessment that Hunter Biden’s laptop and the emails in question were not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. FBI does has possession of the Hunter Biden laptop in question.
— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) October 20, 2020
The letter itself, however, was similar to a “get out of jail free” card for the media, however. Corporate media was quick to snap up the letter as irrefutable proof that the Post story was parroting Russian disinformation and that no further digging was necessary.
Take NPR, for example, which first said it wouldn’t “waste” its readers time with distractions. NPR went onto claim the story had been “discredited” by intelligence agencies when nothing of the sort was true.
“The last gasp of [Rudy Giuliani’s] campaign against the Bidens featured a laptop supposedly obtained from sources that would document the younger Biden’s drug use and other offenses. The laptop story was discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations,” the outlet reported.
NPR later corrected its piece and admitted that U.S. intelligence officials had not made any statement “to that effect.”
During a 2020 debate with then-President Donald Trump, Biden cited the letter as hard proof that the story was fake. Members of his administration have continued to repeat this claim, despite Ratcliffe’s determination otherwise.
HuffPost, the Boston Globe, The Hill and Business Insider all echoed Politico’s story dismissing the laptop.