On Today, NBC reporter Hallie Jackson dismissed the New York Post stories on Hunter Biden in part by declaring “The Washington Post is reporting that some intelligence experts think this has the hallmark of, like a disinformation campaign, meant to interfere with the election.”
On page A-4 of Thursday’s Washington Post came their Biden-Aid story, headlined
Trump allies publicize e-mails purportedly from Hunter Biden’s computer
New York Post story says materials were provided by Giuliani and Biden
Reporters Matt Viser, Paul Sonne, and Annie Linskey didn’t exactly write a Hunter Biden story. There are 14 references to Rudy Giuliani, and only five uses of “Hunter Biden.” Most of those came at the sugary end:
Efforts to tarnish Hunter Biden and by extension his father have been a focus of Trump’s campaign over the past year and a half. The president and his allies have derided not only Hunter Biden’s business dealings, but also his struggles with substance abuse.
As recently as the Sept. 29 presidential debate, Trump ridiculed Hunter Biden, which led his father to make an emotional defense of his son that acknowledged his past drug addiction.
“My son, like a lot of people at home, had a drug problem,” Biden said. “He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him, I’m proud of my son.”
They did everything they could to pour skepticism all over the story. Get a load of the lede, for example:
President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and his former top adviser Stephen K. Bannon, who have attracted the scrutiny of U.S. authorities for their political dealings in recent months, helped make public private materials purported to belong to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son in an attempt to swing support to the struggling incumbent.
This was all about the unreliable (Trumpy, crooked) provenance of the story: “The New York Post, which is owned by conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, said its report was based on materials it said it heard about from Bannon and were provided by Giuliani.”
When the Post – owned by leftist media tycoon Jeff Bezos – reports against Trump, it often fails to acknowledge its sources might have an axe to grind. They all have an axe-grinding party.
So what about the unnamed "intelligence experts" Jackson raised? Here's that passage:
Several intelligence experts also were skeptical of the report — and the stated origins of the hard drive purported to belong to Biden’s son — saying that it had the characteristics of a carefully planned information operation designed to affect an American election.
Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures, a book about disinformation, said hacking, forging and leaking information selectively are among the most effective disinformation methods, and raised suspicions about the material the New York Post published.
“Usually when emails are leaked, what investigators look for is the actual email file, and we don’t have that here,” Rid said, raising alarms that the emails do not include metadata, which can be used to verify the date, sender and recipient. When an email is presented without the metadata, he said, “then you become suspicious.”
Rid wrote an October 20, 2016 article for the liberal magazine Esquire entitled “How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History.” A quick look at his Twitter account at @RidT shows he's been actively whacking away at the New York Post story and hailing its social-media spiking, including this retweet of The Lincoln Project:
PS: If we rewind to September 5, the Post wasn’t a small fraction as skeptical of The Atlantic – either its ideological alliances or its sourcing – over the claims that President Trump called dead soldiers “suckers” and “losers.” That story was on the front page, highlighting Biden, touting his late son Beau before the jump:
There was no mention of the ideology of The Atlantic, and no naming of its author, Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s editor in chief. They did note “Nearly every Senate Democratic challenger – including many who served in the military – tweeted about the Atlantic report.”