Politico owes the New York Post an apology

Aggressively, reflexively wrong.

Politico owes the New York Post an apology.

While we're at it, Politico also owes Politico an apology.

The New York Post, in October of 2020, revealed the existence of a laptop reportedly belonging to Hunter Biden, the contents of which purport to show he regularly traded on his father’s name to enrich the Biden family. One email pulled from the laptop shows Hunter Biden introduced his father “to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.”

At the time of the report, Politico claimed the New York Post’s scoop was likely “Russian disinformation.” Politico’s reporting even drew on the collective weight of “dozens of former intel officials.”

Now, 11 months and one presidential election later, Politico is singing a different tune entirely.

“Ben Schreckinger’s ‘The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power,’ out today, finds evidence that some of the purported HUNTER BIDEN laptop material is genuine,” Politico Playbook reports this week, “including two emails at the center of last October’s controversy.”

It adds, “A person who had independent access to Hunter Biden’s emails confirmed he did receive a 2015 email from a Ukrainian businessman thanking him for the chance to meet Joe Biden. The same goes for a 2017 email in which a proposed equity breakdown of a venture with Chinese energy executives includes the line, ‘10 held by H for the big guy?’ (This person recalled seeing both emails, but was not in a position to compare the leaked emails word-for-word to the originals.)”

See, this is funny, because Politico scrambled last year to dismiss the New York Post’s scoop as “fake news.” Then-Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand, a notoriously reliable conduit for partisan spook talking points, authored a popular and highly cited article in Oct. 2020 repeating the baseless claim that the Kremlin likely planted the Hunter Biden laptop story with select U.S. media outlets.

The third paragraph to her "Russian disinfo" report stated, specifically: “While the [former intelligence officials] presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them ‘deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case’ and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work.”

Then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe claimed that same month the laptop and its alleged contents, including potentially damning emails, are “not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.” The Justice Department and the FBI, which is in possession of the laptop, concurred with Ratcliffe’s assessment.

Fast-forward to this week, and now Politico reports:

While the leak contains genuine files, it remains possible that fake material has been slipped in.

BACKGROUND: A former Hunter Biden business partner, TONY BOBULINSKI, said last year the “10 Held by H” email was genuine and referred to plans for Hunter to hold equity in the venture — which did not get off the ground — on behalf of his father. Biden’s campaign said he never considered going into business with his family.

WHAT DOES THE WHITE HOUSE HAVE TO SAY? Asked for the book whether Joe Biden had an April 2015 encounter with Burisma adviser VADYM POZHARSKYI at a dinner at Cafe Milano, a White House spokesman did not respond directly. Instead, the spokesman referred to an April WaPo article that includes a campaign denial of any meeting. The article confirms Joe Biden’s presence at the dinner, while casting doubt on any Pozharskyi encounter there. Pozharskyi did not respond to requests for comment.

WHAT DOES HUNTER HAVE TO SAY? This spring, he told CBS the laptop “certainly” could be his. His lawyer, CHRIS CLARK, did not respond to questions for the book.

So, given what we knew then and what we know now, the question remains: Where did these former intelligence officials get the idea Moscow orchestrated the New York Post story? On what evidence did they base their assessment? And why was it so easy for them to have their obviously wrong speculation unquestioningly repeated by Politico?

You probably already know the answer to this question, especially given Bertrand’s propensity for parroting whatever intelligence apparatchiks tell her. Nevertheless, the question requires asking.