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Commentary: The media's exoneration of Biden's Ukrainian dealings gives him the benefit of the doubt he does not deserve


Media bias at work

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By now, the supposedly objective fact checkers in the mainstream media have nearly completed their race to fall all over themselves declaring that there is absolutely no indication that Joe Biden did anything wrong in connection with the firing of Viktor Shokin, former head prosecutor in Ukraine.

"No evidence," they have repeatedly cried. "No evidence that Biden did anything wrong." Never mind that, as of now, there is likewise "no evidence" that President Donald Trump asked for a quid-pro-quo from the Ukrainian government in the form of foreign-aid-for-an-investigation-of-Hunter-Biden.

According to the media, when there is "no evidence" concerning something Trump allegedly did, that is a good reason for everyone to dig in as deeply as possible, so that we can make absolutely sure nothing untoward happened. On the other hand, when there is "no evidence" that Joe Biden did something wrong, if you ask questions that any reasonably curious person might ask about a situation, you are a conspiracy theorist spreading smears.

The media's feverish exoneration really actually goes beyond giving the benefit of the doubt to Biden and crosses into the realm of defensiveness and ostrich-head-in-the-sand-land, but the central lynch pin of the exoneration comes down to the media's willingness to believe Joe and Hunter Biden when they say that Hunter Biden never discussed Burisma Holdings — or the Ukrainian government's investigation into same — with his father.

The Washington Post's "fact check" into the issue — written by noted Ukraine expert (please detect the sarcasm) Glenn Kessler — notes that a central fact of the Biden defense is that Joe and Hunter never discussed Hunter's work with Burisma Holdings. Initially, both camps denied that any such conversation occurred, until a New Yorker profile on Hunter Biden emerged in which he admitted to having at least one conversation with Joe about it. Noting this, Kessler (doing his dutiful part to carry Joe Biden's water) still declines to say Biden lied about this because, even though Hunter Biden admitted to the conversation, "Biden never said he spoke to his son, as Trump claimed he did."

Well, technically true. Joe Biden hasn't admitted it yet. Perhaps an enterprising journalist working for a large-budget, Democrat-friendly publication like the Washington Post might feel inclined to confront Joe Biden with the fact that his son is on record admitting to such a conversation, and ask whether Joe Biden has any comment on that, but that's probably asking too much of the Washington Post. Better to just somehow leave it that Trump is the liar in this particular scenario, as Kessler did.

Here is the thing: the media's blind willingness to take Joe Biden's word for what happened would constitute professional laziness and malpractice even if it were the ordinary, run-of-the-mill politician. But in this case, we know, based on repeated instances of history, that Joe Biden is a serial fabulist.

It is often claimed that Joe Biden's 1988 presidential campaign was derailed due to accusations of plagiarism in his speeches. That is maybe about half true. It is true that Biden plagiarized speeches, but that is often considered to be a relatively menial sin in politics. What really doomed Biden was not that he plagiarized rhetoric, but that he plagiarized portions of speeches that included him describing himself in situations that never happened. In other words, it wasn't just that he stole lofty lines to inspire people, it's that he was constantly telling stories about himself that were simply not true.

It's a habit that Biden has never really rid himself of. In fact, it's already been established that he did it with respect to this very story. A central aspect of Biden's bragging was that he made the supposed threat to the Ukrainians while in Ukraine. He even dramatically stated that he was going to be on a plane back to the states in a few hours, and if Shokin wasn't fired before he boarded the plane, then Ukraine wasn't going to get the money.

The problem, of course, is that Joe Biden did not go to Ukraine at all in March 2016. He did meet briefly with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the White House — two days after Shokin had already been fired.

Put simply, Biden's interaction with Poroshenko did not happen the way he claimed it did. Frankly, it was probably not even close. Even Obama administration officials have groused in recent days that Biden has vastly inflated, conflated, and exaggerated events related to the firing of Shokin since he left office.

I am at a loss to understand why the word of a man with such a lengthy history of making up facts to suit his own ends — including key details in this very story — should be so worthy of blind trust by a media that likes to pretend that it is dedicated to investigating and uncovering the truth.

One further thing needs to be noted in connection with this story. The media has likewise pretended that Biden's word is more or less irrelevant to this story because there is a lot of evidence that the international community wanted Shokin dismissed due to corruption anyway.

It is true, as far as it goes, that there was considerable international pressure to remove Shokin. And it is true, as far as it goes, that there appears to have been corruption in Shokin's office. But as with all things involving Ukrainian politics, it isn't just as simple as, "Well his office was corrupt and everyone wanted him gone anyway, so there's nothing to see here." And the American journalists who are suddenly pretending to be experts in Ukrainian politics because they've done a little research on wikipedia are beclowning themselves by pretending to understand the intricacies of the Ukrainian political game.

See, corruption is not only a fact of life in Ukrainian government, but it is also considered more or less par for the course in the Ukraine for the government to use its prosecutorial powers to go after the political opponents — including the well-connected quasi-state mega corporations and the oligarchs who run them — of the ruling power. In fact, this very fact of life is exactly why companies like Burisma Holdings paid politically well-connected people who have no experience in the natural gas field (like Hunter Biden) comfortable sinecures to sit on their boards, as kind of a bulwark against their own corrupt state and politically motivated reprisal investigations.

And so, while Shokin may well have been corrupt, and while everyone may have wanted him removed, he may also have been the very worst possible person to have in office, from the standpoint of Burisma Holdings.

I'll be honest with you: I don't know whether that's true because I'm not an expert in the internal workings of Ukrainian politics circa 2016, and I wasn't present for Burisma Holdings board rooms discussions. But I'll tell you this: neither is Glenn Kessler nor any other member of the American media who has written "fact checks" confidently proclaiming that Biden is innocent and everything was totally above board knows, either.

In a sane world, with a media that was truly interested in reaching the truth, well-funded organizations like the Washington Post and CNN would be sending reporters to Ukraine to dig into original documents, confronting Joe Biden with Hunter's statements about their conversations, and trying to dig up records to uncover the truth about what happened.

Instead, they seem mostly compelled to just give Joe Biden the benefit of the doubt.

And there's almost no one who deserves it less.

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