[Revised version of an article I did last year exposing some of the media’s unbelievable deceptions when Hunter Biden’s lucrative gig with Ukrainian energy company Burisma first became big news. Seemed like a good time to revisit the reprehensible tricks the media used to shield Biden most of our readers likely never heard anything about.]
No one disputes that, as Obama’s Vice President, Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees from Ukraine unless the state replaced its lead prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, with someone more to his liking.
It can’t be disputed since Biden couldn’t resist bragging about it on camera.
But when the news broke last September that Trump had asked Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to look into the matter, the Washington Post wasted no time in pushing a funny narrative about Biden’s motive.
The reason Biden wanted Shokin fired, the newspaper kept insisting, had nothing at all to do with the more than $3.5 million his son Hunter’s consulting firm was paid by a Ukrainian company called, Burisma Holdings, that Shokin just so happened to be investigating at the time.
In the two weeks after we first learned of Trump’s request, the Washington Post ran no less than 30 stories claiming that Burisma had no reason to want Shokin ousted since his investigation had been “dormant.” Every single one used that same exact phrase.
But what’s even more remarkable is how much company they had. Far from singing their refrain of “dormant” solo, the Washington Post was but one voice in a mammoth media choir.
Do a Google search for the words “Shokin” and “dormant” from September 21 to October 5, 2019, and you’ll find over 120 articles parroting the Washington Post’s attempt to exonerate Biden, verbatim— including at least one from each of the Post’s elite media brethren such as the New York Times, CNN, CBS, NBC, Politico, AP News, Reuters, and The New Yorker.
Every single media outlet you’re likely to name assured their readers that Trump couldn’t possibly have had any legitimate reason for asking Zelensky to look into Biden’s insistence that Shokin had to go because, at the time, the prosecutor’s investigation was “dormant.”
But much of the press went even further.
If you found yourself wondering what aside from dad’s influence could have made a dissipated wastrel like Hunter Biden – a Navy washout with no pertinent experience in the energy sector or any other business who didn’t even speak their language – worth millions to a Ukrainian natural gas company, then you weren’t just dressed wrong.
According to the mainstream press, you had your pants on backward, buddy.
The Washington Post claimed that Biden strong-armed Ukraine into replacing Shokin because the prosecutor was “soft on corruption,” not to stop him from investigating it.
And many other outlets like the Wall Street Journal went even further still, alleging that “Shokin had dragged his feet” in investigating the very company shelling out millions to Hunter Biden!
As The Atlantic’s David A. Graham chimed in, without a trace of irony:
Biden’s pressure to install a tougher prosecutor probably made it more likely, not less, that Burisma would be in the crosshairs.
If you’re having a tough time swallowing the idea that Joe Biden was trying to get Shokin fired for not doing enough to investigate a company enriching his useless son, rest assured your gag reflex is in good working order.
The disparaging stories about Shokin the corporate press carpet-bombed us with in the first two weeks after the news of Trump’s phone call broke were at best dubious. And the creepily ubiquitous claim that Shokin’s investigation had been “dormant” demonstrably false.
As were the suggestions that President Trump was peddling conspiracy theories when he claimed, not just that the company paying Hunter Biden millions, but also the man himself was a subject of interest to Ukrainian prosecutors.
The hundreds of media reports last September that Trump was, once again, making things up entirely out of thin air—not surprisingly—were once again being created entirely out of thin air. Projection always being the soup du jour at Café la Résistance.
Presenting One Side, Burying the Other
The first of the avalanche of stories using the word “dormant” to crush Trump and shield Biden actually dropped in the first week of May, four months before the news of Trump’s phone call to Zelensky broke though a few weeks after the call itself.
It was set in motion after the man who’s been mostly responsible for exposing what he aptly calls the Biden crime family, former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, first called for an investigation into their lucrative wheeling and dealing in Ukraine.
Mincing no words, Giuliani announced on Twitter that the elder Joe Biden’s conflict of interest when he pushed for Shokin’s dismissal was “too apparent to be ignored.”
https://t.co/FNVj16Hf10 via @nytimes. Biden conflicts are too apparent to be ignored and should be investigated quickly and expeditiously. But the more important question is how deep and how high did the alleged Ukraine conspiracy go?
— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) May 2, 2019
Five days later, the word the media would incessantly drum into our heads to drown out any concerns about Joe Biden’s probity was first used for that purpose in a Bloomberg News report:
There’s little question that the Bidens’ paths in Ukraine held the potential for conflict, and in a tweet last week, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the U.S. should investigate the matter. But what has received less attention is that at the time Biden made his ultimatum, the probe into the company — Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky — had been long dormant…
In case there was any doubt what Bloomberg was up to, the article’s headline was a direct rebuttal to Giuliani:
Timeline in Ukraine Probe Casts Doubt on Giuliani’s Biden Claim
The source for Bloomberg‘s story was one of Shokin’s deputies named Vitaliy Kasko, who alleged that, though he “urged Shokin to pursue the investigations” into Burisma, his boss ignored him.
Bloomberg reported that neither the Bidens nor anyone from Burisma would comment on the story. Strangely, however, Viktor Shokin’s response isn’t mentioned alongside that of the other main characters towards the very beginning. You had to read 900 words in – long past the point where most readers will have moved on to something else – to learn whether the main villain of Bloomberg’s story had anything to say in his defense:
Shokin has denied any accusations of wrongdoing and declined to provide immediate comment for this article. In an interview with the Ukrainian website Strana.ua . . . Shokin said he believes he was fired because of his Burisma investigation, which he said had been active at the time.
So, though Bloomberg made you pay close attention and read almost to the end to discover it, the story that would later spawn over a hundred clones also using the word “dormant” to exonerate Joe Biden of any wrongdoing essentially boils down to a former Ukrainian lead prosecutor telling a tale that implicates Biden while his subordinate at the time tells another story that seems to exonerate him. Bloomberg simply presents the latter as fact and buries the former.
At best, Bloomberg’s suggestion that they’ve exonerated Biden is unsubstantiated. But it turns out, in the interview Bloomberg cites, Shokin does more than merely make self-serving claims that contradict equally self-serving ones made by his former deputy Kasko. Though the story fails to mention it, Shokin backs up his account with at least one pertinent fact that turned out to be verified, not just by Ukrainian media, but also by a rather surprising U.S. source.
Shokin claimed that the Ukrainian government pressured him to stop his investigation into Burisma and that Kasko was the one working on the firm’s behalf to stifle it. He also says that, when Joe Biden got him fired, he was about to interrogate Hunter:
Shokin: We were going to interrogate Biden, Jr. . . .
Interviewer: What got in the way?
Shokin: [We] did not have enough time. The President told me repeatedly that Biden demanded that they remove me.
Shokin went on to claim that he took specific actions which, if verified, prove he was actively investigating Burisma.
There were regular ultimatums and discussions about me. I finally crossed the threshold on February 2, 2016, when we went to the courts with motions to re-arrest the property of Burisma. I suppose that then the president received another call from Biden, blackmail by non-allocation of a loan . . . Then [President] Poroshenko surrendered.
Apart from Shokin’s interview with Ukrainian media to which Bloomberg links, his claim that he was preparing to interrogate Hunter Biden had been in the public record since April 1, 2019, when The Hill’s John Solomon published the results of his own interview with Shokin. Moreover, among many other revelations suggesting that Biden demanded Shokin’s termination to protect Burisma, Solomon also says:
The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe—shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials—shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, [his] business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.
Why do almost none of the over 100 articles parroting Bloomberg’s completely worthless attempt to exonerate Biden make any mention at all of Solomon’s vastly more informative and better-sourced story implicating him?
Could it be that the establishment press doesn’t give a damn about uncovering the truth and, instead, was focused solely on advancing a narrative that discredited Trump’s remarks to Ukrainian president Zelensky concerning what Biden was up to when he got Shokin fired and, thus, helping to convince our more gullible citizenry that Trump might be guilty of something justifying impeachment?
Way back on July 22, before anyone imagined that the Biden family’s Ukrainian misadventures would be contrived to impeach Trump, the Washington Post itself published a quite different take on Joe and Hunter’s probity in an article headlined (you’re going to get a kick out of this):
As Vice President, Biden Said Ukraine Should Increase Gas Production. Then His Son Got a Job With a Ukrainian Gas Company
Almost unbelievably, this earlier Post story actually features portions of an email interview they did with… you guessed it… none other than Viktor Shokin. The ousted prosecutor, once again, claimed Biden had him fired for aggressively investigating “the activities of Burisma and the involvement of his son, Hunter Biden” and that he would have interrogated Hunter had he not been forced out.
Yet the Post mentions its own prior interview with Shokin in only one of those 30 stories about him the paper published after his answers turned out to be inconvenient for the establishment media’s impeachment fantasies.
And that one article is an exercise in deception.
The Post’s entire description of what Shokin had previously told them consists of directly quoting a fragment of a sentence he wrote in English, offering his take on why Biden wanted him fired—which, understandably, given that English isn’t his native tongue, is clunky, barely grammatical, and not easy to decipher. Indeed, without the context provided by the sentence before it—“Are you asking me about the motives of Joseph Biden?”—it takes a bit of work to figure out what Shokin is even talking about.
Then, without even mentioning that Shokin also told the Post he’d planned on interrogating Hunter Biden, the Post attempts to undermine his version of events by—you guessed it—citing Bloomberg that “U.S. and Ukrainian officials have said the probe had long been dormant.”
But, even here, the post is lying about Bloomberg’s sources, as did many of the other media outlets who parroted Bloomberg’s “dormant” schtick.
Kasko is Bloomberg’s only source for claiming that Shokin’s investigation was dormant and their story contains no information obtained from any U.S. sources at all.
They do allege that certain unspecified U.S. officials criticized Shokin. But their source is some unspecified set of “internal documents from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office” they claim to have seen God only knows how. And the Bloomberg story never suggests that the mysterious Ukrainian documents portray the unknown American officials as believing the Burisma investigation was “dormant,” using that or any other expression.
But the Washington Post’s flagrant deceit gets worse.
After the news of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky broke, the Post ran at least three stories claiming “there is no evidence” for Trump’s assertion that Hunter Biden was a target of Ukrainian prosecutors.
In other words, the Washington Post repeatedly suggested that Trump was just making it all up even though their own article from just two months before directly quotes the head Ukrainian prosecutor during the time in question as explicitly saying he was investigating Hunter Biden and reports that he also intended to interrogate Hunter.
Shokin’s Story Receives Corroboration
If that’s all there was, it would be bad enough. It’s already clear that Bloomberg, the rest of the corporate press—and especially the Washington Post—willfully tried to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes by presenting Kasko’s story as if it were fact, while completely burying Shokin’s detailed and damning counter-tale.
The fake news media also repeatedly said there was no evidence for Trump’s claim that Hunter Biden was being investigated by Shokin when John Solomon had reported on a whole lot of evidence for that and more in his April 1 article in the Hill.
But, even putting aside Solomon’s report, if the corporate press had properly presented both sides of the story from the Bloomberg article in which the word “dormant” they were all regurgitating first appeared, at best we’d have a case of two Ukrainian officials contradicting each other without any sound basis for deciding which of them to believe.
No one without prejudice could have claimed that the Bidens were definitely innocent of any wrongdoing. And, as Mayor Giuliani insisted, an investigation would clearly be in order.
But, though of course it was never widely reported, researcher extraordinaire Stephen McIntyre unearthed corroboration from the Ukrainian press for Shokin’s assertion that he went to court to seize Burisma’s property.
Interfax-Ukraine published an article on April 2, 2016, which verifies that “[t]he movable and immovable property” of Burisma’s owner “Mykola Zlochevsky . . . has been seized” and that “the court satisfied the petition on February 2, 2016,” two weeks before Shokin was first asked to resign and, in fact, on the exact date he claimed to have “crossed the threshold” that caused his termination because of Biden’s demands.
It’s still possible that Shokin was stifling the investigation into Burisma and simply failed to stop Kasko’s efforts to have its owner’s property confiscated. Though one wonders, if that’s so, why Kasko’s efforts haven’t been mentioned. Without further official inquiry, we’ll never be certain of the full story.
But Bloomberg’s assertion that the investigation into Burisma was “dormant” under Shokin, which is literally all there ever was to the mainstream press’s entire attempt to convince the public that Joe Biden’s Ukrainian ultimatum had nothing to do with his son’s multi-million-dollar gig with Burisma, simply isn’t true. And the fact that Shokin turns out to be the honest one here lends at least a little credence to his claim that Hunter Biden was indeed a target of his investigation.
Moreover, the story that Shokin was the one protecting Burisma doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given what happened in the aftermath of his dismissal.
Another salient fact the fake news media despicably kept under wraps is that not only was Burisma not prosecuted once Shokin was replaced by someone more to Joe Biden’s liking, the investigation of the firm was, in fact, completely terminated once Biden succeeded in getting Shokin out of the picture.
The Bloomberg article on which the media’s entire disinformation campaign to exonerate Joe Biden depends mentions towards the very end that:
In October 2017, Burisma issued a statement saying Ukrainian prosecutors had closed all legal and criminal proceedings against it.
Bloomberg apparently counted on most people not reading that far and the rest not noticing that Shokin’s replacement went further in exonerating Burisma than the man they suggest was corrupt for failing to pursue the case did.
Bloomberg, of course, also neglected to point out that this means the end result of Joe Biden’s aggressive meddling in another nation’s affairs was that a company paying his good-for-nothing son millions of dollars was let off the hook even though his own administration claimed it had engaged in illegal activity and needed to be seriously punished.
Bottom line: In the two weeks after news of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky broke, well over 100 news articles were published that tried to convince the American people of Biden’s innocence and, hence, Trump’s guilt by claiming that neither Burisma nor Hunter Biden had any reason whatsoever to want Viktor Shokin fired.
And every single one of those stories was a despicably deceitful insult to the intelligence of anyone unfortunate enough to be reading it.
As Thomas Jefferson said in response to the fake news of his day:
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.