New Report on Biden and Ukraine Indicates The New York Times Got Snookered

New Report on Biden and Ukraine Indicates The New York Times Got Snookered

Bloomberg provides fresh evidence today that last week’s big New York Times story, which hinted that Joe Biden had used his position as vice president to get a Ukranian company his son Hunter was involved with out of legal scrutiny from the nation’s chief prosecutor, was bogus.

The Times had reported that in 2016, the elder Biden pushed Ukraine to fire its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating a Ukranian oligarch who owned an energy company called Burisma Holdings. At the time, Hunter Biden served on Burisma’s board.

But Bloomberg’s reporting shows that Shokin’s investigation of Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky had been dormant long before Biden began pushing for the prosecutor general’s ouster. A former government official in the Ukraine told the outlet that the investigation “was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”

If Bloomberg is correct, this would negate the central thesis of the Times story, which was framed as Biden’s actions being a conflict of interest that could hamper his presidential campaign. This despite the fact that the Times slaso admitted, way down in the nineteenth paragraph of its story last week, that there was no evidence Biden had pushed for Shokin’s ouster to help his son.

In fact, Biden’s ultimatum to Ukraine that it fire Shokin or the U.S. government would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees, appears to have genuinely been a part of the Obama administration’sNe push to clean up corruption in the country, as Biden has said all along.

The Times admitted it had been pushed to look into the Ukraine allegations by President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The story had been bubbling among the right wing for some time, and Giuliani’s efforts to get the Times to report on it pushed it into the mainstream despite the fact that the central premise appears to be wrong.

Democrats and liberals had visions of 2016, when the Times teamed up with Steve Bannon and right-wing reporter Peter Schweizer to mainstream allegations in Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash that Hillary Clinton had used her position as Secretary of State to enrich herself and her family’s foundation. The allegations were bogus, but the smear created a narrative that she was corrupt.

The Times happily jumped on a similar story for the 2020 Democratic front-runner, and now appears to have been burned again. But this should make people very nervous about the paper’s ability to honestly cover the 2020 election.

 

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.