It appears that some media have a new narrative after admitting that the Hunter Biden laptop is legitimate after all. According to Atlantic Magazine writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum, the story never did matter because it was just not interesting and “totally irrelevant” to her. Strangely, however, it once did. Applebaum pushed the false narrative as she was slamming others for publishing “Russian disinformation” and using the Hunter Biden story as an example. It only became uninteresting when it turned out to be true. The one convincing assertion, however, is that it was simply not viewed as “relevant.” What was clearly relevant for Twitter and most media outlets was the election of Joe Biden. Otherwise, as captured by Gaston de La Touche, it is a matter of sheer boredom.
Applebaum was at my alma mater, The University of Chicago, for the Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy conference on Wednesday. The conference appeared largely an echo-chamber, a disappointing lineup for UChicago which is known to value a diversity of opinion. Applebaum slammed Fox and its viewers: “Those who live outside the Fox News bubble and intend to remain there do not, of course, need to learn any of this stuff.” (For the record, I work as a legal analyst at Fox).
That is when University of Chicago Student Daniel Schmidt delivered a haymaker after citing her dig:
“A poll, later after that, found that if voters knew about the content of the laptop, 16% of Joe Biden voters would have acted differently. ‘Do you think the media acted inappropriately when they instantly dismissed Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation, and what can we learn from that in ensuring that what we label as disinformation is truly disinformation, and not reality?”
Applebaum responded by saying that she really did not care if the laptop was legitimate because she did not find it interesting.
“My problem with Hunter Biden’s laptop is I think it’s totally irrelevant,” she said. “I mean, it’s not whether it’s disinformation… I didn’t think Hunter Biden’s business relationships have anything to do with who should be President of the United States.”
So, if the Biden family was engaged in selling access to foreign interests, it really has nothing to do with the President of the United States. It is not interesting that there are references to Joe Biden’s knowledge or involvement and possible benefitting from the millions passing through his son. It does not matter that Hunter is shown telling his daughter Naomi: “I hope you all can do what I did and pay for everything for this entire family for 30 years. It’s really hard. But don’t worry, unlike Pop [Joe], I won’t make you give me half your salary.”
It is all just so uninteresting.
Nevertheless, Applebaum did find it interesting that others are pushing “disinformation.” Russian disinformation has been a focus of her work and she has called for Facebook to stop those who “spread lies” and work to “undo the terrible damage done by Facebook and other forms of social media” by allowing people to speak freely on their sites. Applebaum repeatedly objected to how “extreme-right television channels, then repeated and amplified in cyberspace, creating an alternative reality.” However, when the left killed a legitimate story before an election, that alternative reality is just not interesting.
It turns out, however, that there was relevance to the Hunter Biden scandal when the media was dismissing it as Russian disinformation. For example, in a column titled “The Science of Making Americans Hurt Their Own Country,” Applebaum was fixated on how everyone had to work to kill such stories like the Hunter Biden “saga.” Indeed, Applebaum chastised Americans for not being interested enough:
“Russian disinformation works because Americans allow it to work-and because those same Americans don’t care anymore about the harm they do to their country.
You can argue, of course, that these 2020 efforts don’t need to be taken so seriously, because they failed. Biden won. At least half the population did not believe the false accusations, or weren’t swayed by them. The Hunter Biden saga faded. But that misses the more insidious, longer-term effect of these kinds of games-or rather, the insidious, long-term effect of the behavior of the Americans who play them.”
Applebaum now insists that she never really “cared” about the story or whether a true story was suppressed by the media before the election. It seems that that is not disinformation. It is just uninteresting information.
I previously wrote a column on the one year anniversary of the Hunter Biden laptop story that marveled at the success of the Biden family in making the scandal vanish before that 2020 election. It was analogized to Houdini making his 10,000-pound elephant Jennie disappear in his act. The Biden trick, however, occurred live before an audience of millions.
The elephant was not hard to see. The trick worked because he knew people did not want to see it.
The key to the trick was involving the media in the original act so that reporters became invested in the illusion. It is like calling audience members to the stage to assist in the performance. Reporters have to insist that there was nothing to see or they have to admit to being part of the original deception. Indeed, previously writers like Applebaum accused those who saw an elephant of being dupes and liars.
Well now the elephant is back, Applebaum wants everyone to know that she was never really interested in elephants in the first place.