There is nothing to see. In 2014, Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma on a reported salary of $50,000 (£40,000) a month. Hunter knows nothing about the energy business, and he doesn’t seem to speak Ukrainian.
‘I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,’ Joe Biden said in 2019, though he had been photographed playing golf in the Hamptons with Hunter and another Burisma board member, Devon Archer, in 2014. But there is nothing to see.
On Wednesday, the New York Post published an email from Vadim Pozharskyi, an adviser to the Burisma board, from April 2015. Pozharskyi thanks Hunter for ‘inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spend some time together’. But there is nothing to see.
In December 2015, eight months after Hunter introduced his father to Pozharskyi, vice president Biden pressured Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko and its prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to fire prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. Joe Biden has publicly boasted that he secured Shokin’s firing by threatening to withhold a $1 billion (£770m) loan guarantee. Shokin claims that he was working on ‘specific plans’ to investigate Burisma’s board, Hunter Biden included. Though we hear Biden’s boast, there is nothing to see.
On Wednesday, Joe Biden called yet another early lid on his day’s activities. For months, he has refused to answer questions about Hunter, Burisma and Ukraine. There is nothing to see or hear of Biden — as usual.
There is nothing to see because Facebook doesn’t want you to see it and Twitter won’t let you share it. On Wednesday, Andy Stone, who runs ‘communications’ at Facebook, announced that the New York Post’s story was ‘eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party checking partners’. While Facebook’s faceless and unaccountable partners checked the facts, the site, Stone said, would be ‘reducing’ the story’s ‘distribution’. Stone used to work for Democratic senator Barbara Boxer, Democratic congressman Jerry McNerney and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Twitter, meanwhile, stopped its users from forwarding or privately sharing the Post’s article for a couple of hours. When you clicked on the story, Twitter offered you a disclaimer, as if you are ‘proceeding to an unsafe site’. It is, however, still possible to read and circulate the Steele dossier on Twitter, and to read and circulate the racist drivel of the Iranian regime’ leaders.
Anyone with a brain can see what is going on in plain sight. The only reason Burisma would want to employ Hunter Biden is to buy influence with his father. So there are reasonable questions to be asked of Joe Biden, a presidential candidate. He is doing his utmost to avoid them. He is succeeding in this shameful evasion because the pro-Democratic media, which is most of the American media, are actively helping him. They refuse to ask him serious questions and promulgate his talking points as their editorial lines.
Most of the legacy media are voluntarily serving as the press team of the Biden campaign. They will print any nonsense so long as it helps Biden dodder across the line on 3 November. As the bottom line of the New York Times shows, polarisation pays in subscriptions.
The social media companies have ended up as guarantors of the public square — partly because of their successful destruction of the legacy media, partly because of their power-hungry utopianism, and partly to ward off regulation by pandering to the censorious demands of left-wing activists and the legacy media. Yet the social media companies are incapable of maintaining a virtual space that is both neutral and legal.
‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes,’ Juvenal asked: ‘Who will watch the guardians?’ In the view from Silicon Valley, the public are too dumb to be trusted to make up their own minds. What we see in Facebook and Twitter’s response to the Post’s story amounts to a deliberate attempt to intervene in a democratic election. If, as we’ve been told for the last three decades, information is the new currency, then this is a kind of information coup: the withholding of information by censorship, the pushing of information as propaganda.
We see it because it is a clumsy attempt, too — as clumsy, it appears, as Hunter Biden’s attempts to trade on his father’s name and influence. It won’t always be so clumsy or so visible. The internet was supposed to democratise information, but we now see that it has privatised it. Some are born low-information voters, but more and more of us are being made into low-information voters. Soon, there will be nothing to see at all.