Washington Post calls for media ‘reckoning’ on ‘accurate and relevant’ Hunter Biden stories
The editorial board of The Washington Post is arguing the press and major social media platforms can learn a lesson from how allegations of corruption against President Biden’s son Hunter Biden were treated when they first surfaced weeks before the 2020 election.
“For now, what’s more compelling than the assorted accusations about the Bidens’ behavior is this question: Why is confirmation of a story that first surfaced in the fall of 2020 emerging only now?” the Post said in an editorial published on Sunday. “When the New York Post published its blockbuster exclusive on the contents of a laptop said to have been abandoned at a Delaware repair shop by Hunter Biden, mainstream media organizations balked at running with the same narrative.”
Social media companies, including Twitter, took “even greater caution” when allegations of corruption hit Hunter Biden, the Post noted.
“Twitter blocked the story altogether, pointing to a policy against hacked materials, and suspended the New York Post’s account for sharing it; Facebook downranked the story in the algorithms that govern users’ news feeds for fear that it was based on misinformation,” the editorial continued. “This series of events has prompted allegations of a coverup, or at best a double standard in the treatment of conservative and liberal politicians by mainstream media and social media sites.”
A federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and lobbying activities is ongoing.
There are reasons news organizations should “wait to verify information before turning it into a story,” the newspaper argued, pointing out that social media companies have faced increased scrutiny in recent years to suppress fast-spreading misinformation, especially during an election cycle.
“None of these dilemmas have easy answers,” the Post concluded. “The lesson learned from 2016 was evidently to err on the side of setting aside questionable material in the heat of a political campaign. The lesson learned from 2020 may well be that there’s also a danger of suppressing accurate and relevant stories.”