New York Times Rips Trump for Repeating Misleading Claims He Might Have Gotten From The New York Times

New York Times Rips Trump for Repeating Misleading Claims He Might Have Gotten From The New York Times

A new story from The New York Times mentioning President Trump’s mistaken impression of the relationship between Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a corruption investigation of the owner of a Ukranian energy company by that nation’s general prosecutor skips mentioning where the president might have gotten that mistaken impression: from The New York Times.

The story published Monday night examines Trump’s habit of demanding the Department of Justice launch investigations into his political enemies. The latest example came during an interview he gave Sunday night to Steve Hilton, host of The Next Revolution on Fox News.

The president told Hilton he thinks the DOJ should investigate the Bidens’ alleged actions in Ukraine in 2016, when the elder Biden was still serving as the vice president. But Trump, according to the Times, “mischaracterized the issues surrounding Hunter Biden’s work in Ukraine, claiming that the country’s top prosecutor at the time ‘was after’ Hunter Biden.” The story then noted there is no “publicly available evidence” that the younger Biden was ever the target of any investigations by Ukraine.

The Times also notes that Trump “seemed to claim that Vice President Biden told the Ukrainians, ‘Don’t you dare prosecute’ Burisma [the energy company] or its owner.” Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma.

What the Times does not acknowledge is that the paper published a much-debated story three weeks ago designed to give the impression that the Bidens might have undertaken those exact actions. The May 2 story takes ten paragraphs hinting at malfeasance by the Bidens before admitting that the story is being pushed by Trump’s allies, most notably Rudy Giuliani, and 18 paragraphs before it admits that there is no evidence that Joe Biden tried to help his son by insisting Ukraine fire its general prosecutor so the corruption investigation would get shut down.

The story has since been debunked pretty thoroughly by Bloomberg. But the damage had been done. Trump is now using the story to demand his attorney general investigate Biden, whom he reportedly views as his toughest potential opponent in 2020. Allies such as Rand Paul have been on national television mischaracterizing the investigation while trumpeting getting the story from The New York Times itself.

It was clear at the time to anyone with memories of the Times’ 2016 team-up with conservatives Steve Bannon and Peter Schweizer to bring the public the bogus allegations of Clinton Cash that the Ukraine story was likely being used similarly to smear Biden. Giuliani even admitted he was trying to fan the flames to hurt the former vice president.

So the Times, having allowed itself to be the vehicle through which this story was laundered to the public, now dutifully reports that Trump is mischaracterizing it to the Fox News audience without acknowledging that the story was written to raise just the sort of vague allegations and hints of unsubstantiated wrongdoing that the president’s allies wanted to plant in the public mind.

The Trump team hasn’t quite gotten there yet. But this latest episode does not inspire confidence they will be unsuccessful if outlets like The New York Times are on the case.

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.