Lanny J. Davis: No facts showing any Hunter Biden wrongdoing — only Trump/Giuliani lies and innuendo

The same media — the same fact-checkers — who focus on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE and tell him, “facts matter” have virtually ignored the facts about whether Hunter Biden actually did anything wrong while serving on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Here is one typical example from a Washington Post page one story on Saturday morning by Matt Viser — with the headline, “Scrutiny over Trump’s Ukraine scandal may also complicate Biden’s campaign.”

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“When Biden first entered the presidential race, it triggered a burst of attention on Hunter Biden’s foreign business ties.”

Is “foreign business ties” a fact that, used in this context, implies even slightly possible wrongdoing? Of course not. Indeed, I couldn’t find a single fact in the Post story about anything improper by Hunter Biden due to his service on the Burisma board, much less anything criminal. Not even an “allegation” of such. Did he use his influence or perceived influence, as the son of a U.S. vice president, to obtain contracts for Burisma? Did he break any Ukrainian laws? Any U.S. laws? No facts even suggesting such.

Of course, it’s not fair to single out just The Washington Post. I would ask the same question of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and mainstream cable news and other mainstream media after the Trump telephone call story broke. Count the number of words mentioning the name Hunter Biden and look for any facts suggesting any wrongdoing. I don’t think you will find any.

One problem with all mainstream media today is the pressure to be “first” online or on cable TV. This is one reason we see so often what the award-winning journalist Kurt Eichenwald frequently called “weasel words” — words like, “may,” “could,” “possible.” “Our JOB [as journalists] is to communicate what we know — not what we ‘might’ know,” Eichenwald wrote in a June 2018 Tweet. (The original New York Times story on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles Hillary Clinton documentary to premiere at Sundance MORE’s emails in March 2015, criticized at the time by Eichenwald, used the word “may” in its headline about Clinton’s “possible” legal violations. Sixteen months later, FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMisfired 'Hurricane': Comey's team abused Carter Page and the FBI Trump rebukes FBI chief Wray over inspector general's Russia inquiry The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE found no crimes were committed).

To be fair, many of today’s political journalists often blur the lines between fact-reporting vs. interpretive reporting, since so many also appear as political pundits on cable TV. They feel much freer, even written in a page one “news” stories, to use hypothetical words like “may” or “could” and “bad optics,” rather than sticking to fact-reporting. At the very least, it would be worth going back to the old tradition of labeling such non-fact stories as “news and analysis,” or write an op-ed, rather than seeming to be a “news” story.

So, what should Hunter Biden do to combat this innuendo journalism that is not only hurting his father’s presidential campaign but, in my judgment, unfairly harms his personal reputation? I wrote a book a long time ago, with the subtitle of the book the summary of my crisis management strategic mantra:

“Tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself.”

“It” means the truth. That might be wise for Hunter Biden to do soon.

I strongly suspect that, in fact, Hunter Biden did nothing wrong, improper or illegal at all. But someone should be getting all the facts together, from beginning to end, as to what he actually did while he served on the board for Burisma.

I don’t care if he was paid a lot because he was the vice president’s son. I don’t care if he was given the board seat on Burisma because of the perception that he could deliver contracts or access or special favors as a result of his being the son of a vice president of the United States. I even don’t care whether as a board member Biden helped procure Burisma legitimately won and deserved contracts. That’s what board members are supposed to do. So long as he didn’t use his dad’s influence to get them.

All I want to know are the facts and whether they show any possible wrongdoing. I strongly suspect that when the facts are reported, there will be nothing there. Nothing other than the wild, unhinged and reckless imaginations and innuendo of Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Giuliani: Trump asked me to brief Justice Department, GOP lawmakers on Ukraine trip The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE and his client, Donald Trump, who we all know don’t care about facts and don’t mind lying, nor knowing that we all know they are lying.

Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton (1996-98) and was a member of President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (2006-07). He is co-founder of the law firm of Davis Goldberg & Galper PLLC and the strategic media and public affairs firm, Trident DMG. He authored “Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life” (Simon & Schuster 2013).  He can be followed on Twitter @LannyDavis.