By Glenn Greenwald / Substack
A severe escalation of the war on a free internet and free discourse has taken place over the last twelve months. Numerous examples of brute and dangerous censorship have emerged: the destruction by Big Tech monopolies of Parler at the behest of Democratic politicians at the time that it was the most-downloaded app in the country; the banning of the sitting president from social media; and the increasingly explicit threats from elected officials in the majority party of legal and regulatory reprisals in the event that tech platforms do not censor more in accordance with their demands.
But the most severe episode of all was the joint campaign — in the weeks before the 2020 election — by the CIA, Big Tech, the liberal wing of the corporate media and the Democratic Party to censor and suppress a series of major reports about then-presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. On October 14 and then October 15, 2020, The New York Post, the nation’s oldest newspaper, published two news reports on Joe Biden’s activities in Ukraine and China that raised serious questions about his integrity and ethics: specifically whether he and his family were trading on his name and influence to generate profit for themselves. The Post said that the documents were obtained from a laptop left by Joe Biden’s son Hunter at a repair shop.
From the start, the evidence of authenticity was overwhelming. The Post published obviously genuine photos of Hunter that were taken from the laptop. Investigations from media outlets found people who had received the emails in real-time and they compared the emails in their possession to the ones in the Post‘s archive, and they matched word-for-word. One of Hunter’s own business associates involved in many of these deals, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed publicly and in interviews that the key emails were genuine and that they referenced Joe Biden’s profit participation in one deal being pursued in China. A forensics analyst issued a report concluding the archive had all the earmarks of authenticity. Not even the Bidens denied that the emails were real: something they of course would have done if they had been forged or altered. In sum, as someone who has reported on numerous large archives similar to this one and was faced with the heavy burden of ensuring the documents were genuine before risking one’s career and reputation by reporting them, it was clear early on that all the key metrics demonstrated that these documents were real.
Despite all that, former intelligence officials such as Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan and his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper led a group of dozens of former spooks in issuing a public statement that disseminated an outright lie: namely, that the laptop was “Russian disinformation.” Note that this phrase contains two separate assertions: 1) the documents came from Russia and 2) they are fake (“disinformation”). The intelligence officials admitted in this letter that — in their words — “we do not know if the emails are genuine or not,” and also admitted that “we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” Yet it repeatedly insinuated that everyone should nonetheless believe this:
But the complete lack of evidence for these claims — that even these career CIA liars acknowledged plagued their assertions — did not stop the corporate media or Big Tech from repeating this lie over and over, and, far worse, using this lie to censor this reporting from the internet. One of the first to spread this lie was the co-queen of Russiagate frauds, Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico and now promoted, because of lies like this, to CNN. “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say,” blared her headline in Politico on October 19, just five days after the Post began its reporting. From there, virtually every media outlet — CNN, NBC News, PBS, Huffington Post, The Intercept, and too many others to count — began completely ignoring the substance of the reporting and instead spread the lie over and over that these documents were the by-product of Russian disinformation.
On October 21 — exactly one week after the Post‘s first report — The Intercept published a false story under the melodramatic headline “We’re Not a Democracy” about these materials from former New York Times reporter James Risen. This propaganda assault masquerading as “news” mindlessly laundered the CIA’s lies about the laptop. This is what appeared in this outlet that still claims to do “adversarial” reporting:
Their latest falsehood once again involves Biden, Ukraine, and a laptop mysteriously discovered in a computer repair shop and passed to the New York Post….This week, a group of former intelligence officials issued a letter saying that the Giuliani laptop story has the classic trademarks of Russian disinformation.
Note that even the intelligence officials, who acknowledged they had no evidence to support this claim, were more honest than The Intercept, which omitted that critical admission. Days later, this very same outlet — which I co-founded seven years earlier to be adversarial, not subservient, to evidence-free assertions from the intelligence community, and which was designed to be an antidote to rather than a clone of The New York Times — told me that I could not publish the article I had written about the Biden archive because it did not meet their lofty and rigorous editorial standards: the same lofty and rigorous editorial standards that led to uncritical endorsement of the CIA’s lies just days earlier. It was that episode, as Matt Taibbi recounted at the time, that prompted my resignation from the outlet I created in protest of this censorship, in order to report instead only on free speech platforms such as this one.
But the media disinformation about the Post‘s documents — obviously designed to protect Joe Biden in the lead-up to the election — were not the worst aspect of what happened here. Far worse was the decision by Twitter to prohibit any discussion of this reporting or posting of links to the story both publicly and privately on the platform. Worse still was the immediate announcement by Facebook through its communications executive Andy Stone — a life-long Democratic Party operative — that it would algorithmically suppress the story pending a “fact check” by “Facebook’s third-party fact-check partners.” Despite multiple requests from me and others, Facebook never published the results of this alleged fact-check and still refuse to say whether it ever conducted one. Why? Because the documents they blocked millions of Americans from learning about were clearly true and authentic.
As indicated, there was ample proof from the start that these documents were genuine and that the only ones engaged in “disinformation” and lies was this axis of the CIA, corporate media, and Big Tech. Yet the most dispositive proof yet emerged on Tuesday — not from a right-wing news outlet that liberals have been trained to ignore and disbelieve but from one of the most mainstream news institutions in the country.
A young reporter for Politico, Ben Schreckinger, has published a new book entitled “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power.” To his great credit, he spent months investigating the key documents published by The New York Post and found definitive proof that these emails and related documents are indisputably authentic. His own outlet, Politico, was the first to publish the CIA lie that this was “Russian disinformation,” but on Tuesday — without acknowledging their role in spreading that lie — they summarized Schreckinger’s findings this way: the book “finds evidence that some of the purported Hunter Bidenlaptop material is genuine, including two emails at the center of last October’s controversy.” In his book, the reporter recounts in these passages just some of the extensive work he did to obtain this proof:
A person who corresponded with Hunter in late 2018 confirmed to me the authenticity of an email in the cache. Another person who corresponded with Hunter in January 2019 confirmed the authenticity of a different email exchange with Hunter in the cache. Both of these people spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fears of being embroiled in a global controversy.
A third person who had independent access to Hunter’s emails confirmed to me that the emails published by the New York Post related to Burisma and the CEFC venture matched the substance of emails Hunter had in fact received. (This person was not in a position to compare the published emails word-for-word to the originals.)
The National Property Board of Sweden, part of the Swedish Finance Ministry, has released correspondence between Hunter and House of Sweden employees to me and to a Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, under the country’s freedom of information law. Emails released by the property board match emails in the cache.
Given what I regard as the unparalleled gravity of what was done here — widespread media deceit toward millions of American voters in the weeks before a presidential election based on a CIA lie, along with brute censorship of the story by Big Tech — and given that so much of what was done here took place on television, we produced this morning what I regard as the definitive video report of this scandal. I realize this report is longer than the standard video — it is just over an hour — but I really believe that it is vital, particularly with the emergence of this new indisputable proof, to take a comprehensive look at how the intelligence community, in partnership with Big Tech and the corporate media, disseminated massive lies and disinformation, using censorship and other manipulative techniques, to shape the outcome of what was a close election. (We will very shortly institute our new feature of producing transcripts for all videos above ten minutes in length, but I really hope that as many people as can do so will watch this video report).
After observing what they did, I hope and believe you will have a similar reaction to the one I had after spending the day compiling and reporting it all. No matter how much you despise this sector of the corporate media, it is nowhere near close enough to the level of contempt and scorn they deserve.