The New York Times finally admitted Thursday that at least some of the emails found on a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware repair shop are authentic.
Now that President Joe Biden has been in office for more than a year, confirmation that the president’s son used his access to his father for financial gain is hardly newsworthy. But when the New York Post first broke the story less than a month before Election Day in 2020, the story was very much newsworthy and also very damaging to the left-liberal media’s preferred candidate, then-former Vice President Biden.
But the threat to democracy posed by what happened to the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop is not contained in the way the Left’s mouthpieces chose to cover it or ignore it. That NPR refused to cover the story at all, instead issuing a tweet calling it a “pure distraction,” speaks to the organization’s credibility, but it is not a threat to democracy. That CNN called the story a “manufactured scandal” created by the “right-wing media machine” says much about that network, but it is not a threat to democracy either.
What threatens democracy are Big Tech companies that denied access to their platforms to suppress the story and ban the New York Post entirely. Twitter not only blocked users from sharing the specific story but also locked the New York Post out of its account for weeks.
Facebook suppressed users from sharing the story because, as Facebook Policy Communications Director Andy Stone said at the time, “this story is eligible to be fact-checked by Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners.” Stone, who worked for Democrats Barbara Boxer and John Kerry before moving to Facebook, never produced a fact-check that discredited the New York Post’s story.
News organizations are free to investigate or not investigate whatever political scandals they want. It is a free county, and there are plenty of other news outlets around. Readers are free to read what they want and abandon outlets that won’t cover the news. We encourage people to pick and choose.
But more and more people get their news from Big Tech platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The Federal Trade Commission has determined that Facebook has a monopoly on the personal social networking market. If Democratic operatives such as Stone are making the decisions about which stories are suppressed and which are promoted, that is a big problem for our democracy.
There are no easy answers. The FTC is seeking to force Facebook to sell Instagram and WhatsApp, but it is hard to see how that would solve the censorship problem. Other people want to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms from lawsuits stemming from content posted by users. But getting rid of Section 230 could prompt Facebook and Twitter to censor more than they do now of what their users say.
We hope Facebook and Twitter will learn from their botched response to the Hunter Biden laptop story, admit they were wrong, and explain how they intend to do better in the future. If they don’t, something far more draconian than antitrust suits and the repeal of Section 230 is coming.