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The New York Times last week confirmed the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s missing laptop, a story which was originally dismissed as Russian disinformation by many liberal media outlets leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
Television hosts, guests and journalists quickly took to the airwaves in October 2020, reassuring viewers that the laptop was “unverifiable,” likely tied to the Kremlin, and the product of a smear campaign orchestrated by former President Trump and his allies.
“We start this hour with the tale of international espionage connected to a close confidante of the President of the United States,” MSNBC’s Ali Velshi said on Oct. 17, 2020. “The president was reportedly warned that his personal attorney, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was the target of a Russian intelligence operation, a story that is unraveling to reveal allegations of disinformation, dirty tricks and a federal probe over Russian efforts to disparage Joe Biden.”
NEW YORK TIMES FINALLY CONFIRMS HUNTER BIDEN’S LAPTOP AFTER DISMISSING IT AMID 2020 CAMPAIGN
Days later on October 22, Biden campaign advisor Symone Sanders appeared on the liberal news network and bluntly stated that any attempts by then-President Trump to amplify the story would be viewed as “Russian misinformation.” Sanders now is an MSNBC contributor herself.
“It is so obviously a Russian operation.” MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson parroted less than a week earlier.
“U.S. authorities are seeing if those emails we just talked about are connected to an ongoing Russian disinformation effort,” CNN’s Brian Stelter said that same month.
Moments later, The “Reliable Sources” host hypothesized that the contents of the laptop could be made up, arguing that the story was a “classic example” of the “right-wing media machine.”
Stelter’s colleagues, Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper, were also critical of the laptop story. Tapper feigned disgust during an October CNN segment, announcing that right-wingers were going “crazy” with allegations about Hunter and Joe Biden “too disgusting to even repeat.”
Other pundits labeled the laptop story false information.
FLASHBACK: BIDEN OFFICIALS PUSHED ANGLE THAT HUNTER LAPTOP WAS ‘RUSSIAN DISINFO’
In the month before the election, Trump appeared on CBS’ “60 minutes” where he addressed Hunter Biden’s laptop, which he called “one of the biggest scandals” he’s ever seen. But, anchor Lesley Stahl was insistent that there was no way to conclude the laptop or its contents were real.
“Excuse me, they found the laptop. Lesley. Listen,” Trump said, as Stahl repeatedly interjected that the laptop could not be verified.
“What can’t be verified?” Trump asked.
“The laptop!,” Stahl exclaimed.
“Why do you say that?” the former president responded, before further arguing the laptop had to be legitimate.
The laptop was also widely disregarded in print news as well.
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent declared the day after the New York Post first began reporting on the alleged contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop that it was “Trump’s fake new Biden scandal,” calling the allegations “laughably weak.”
The same day, The New York Times ran a report sounding the alarm about “Russian disinformation,” claiming then-President Trump was warned that Russians were “using” his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who was given the laptop before providing its contents to the press, to spread false claims about the Bidens.
Politico also ran an October 2020 headlined, “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say,” which highlighted a letter signed by “more than 50 former senior intelligence officials” who asserted that the emails from the laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
The letter, which was parroted by much of the media, suggested, without evidence, that the emails were hacked and could have been tampered with by the Kremlin in order to make its contents look incriminating. Signatories of that letter included former high-ranking intelligence officials and outspoken Trump critics like former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta, and Jeremy Bash, many of whom work as analysts on MSNBC and CNN and supported Biden’s candidacy.
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Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.