I recently wrote a column on the sudden shift in coverage of the Hunter Biden scandal in the mainstream media, a shift that has coincided with widespread pieces pushing President Joe Biden to change his mind about running for reelection. As political and media figures fret about Joe Biden endangering Democratic control of Congress and the White House, there is now increased willingness to acknowledge the long buried scandal. Few are as striking as the shift of CNN’s media pundit Brian Stelter, who seems to have suddenly discovered that there are serious allegations of influence peddling by the Biden family. After previously calling the Hunter Biden story “manufactured” and “whataboutism,” Brian Stelter is now saying that the story “is not just a right-wing media story” while asking “What about his son?” For those skeptical of the sudden media-wide conversion, it sounded more like “what about his father.”
Stelter previously mocked those pushing this story as a complaint by those who do not “know how newsrooms work” while participating in a “disinformation conference” on how to shape news with insights from former President Obama and other democratic figures.
“How newsrooms work” today is precisely the concern. N.Y. Times’ Thomas Friedman recently declared “The New York Times felt it didn’t pursue it originally as much as it wanted to.” He did not explain what could possibly have overridden such journalistic interest until long after Biden’s election.
Now, with the Democratic control and its agenda in danger, the media appears to be living through a version of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Trouble with Harry.” Call it “The Trouble with Joey?” or, as Stelter suggests, “What to do with Father?”
The criminal investigation holds some promise as a way out of the inconvenient body in the White House. However, as discussed earlier, the Hunter Biden scandal must be a “controlled demolition” — the scandal has to fall precisely on a narrow foundational footprint without causing collateral damage to others in the political and media establishment.
A scandal implosion can be achieved by avoiding the obvious need for a Special Counsel and prompting a plea on narrow criminal charges. That could be enough to contain the blowback for the political and media elite while prompting the President to take a powder soon after the midterm elections. (Indeed, if the President pardoned his son, he could admit to the obvious conflict of interest and decline to run for reelection as a self-imposed consequence for his abuse of the constitutional authority).
For Stelter, the shift is more painful than most. The figures who derided those of us pushing the Hunter Biden story as engaging in “Whataboutism” was now literally asking “What about his son?” and his scandal. The point is not just hypocrisy, it is the concern of what this change is really about.