Joe Biden’s presidential campaign sent a scathing letter to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet for running an op-ed by author and Breitbart senior contributor Peter Schweizer, which laid out the former vice president’s pattern of corruption and calling for the federal government to investigate his dealings in both China and Ukraine.
The Biden campaign sent its letter to Baquet Wednesday, expressing outrage for printing “a baseless conspiracy theory” and calling Schweizer, author of the book Secret Empires, a “right wing polemicist.” While half of Schweizer’s op-ed in the Times addressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s China ties, the Biden campaign did not seem to take issue with that particular coverage.
In the op-ed, Schweizer wrote:
In December 2013, Joe and Hunter Biden flew aboard Air Force Two to China; less than two weeks after the trip, Hunter’s firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners, which he founded with two other businessmen in June 2013, finalized a deal to open a fund, BHR Partners, whose largest shareholder is the government-run Bank of China, even though he had scant background in private equity.(Representatives of the fund claim that the timing of the deal and the Bidens’ trip to China was coincidental). Thus far, the firm has invested about $2.1 billion, according to its website.
With the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, Joe Biden became point person in Ukraine as well. That same year, Hunter Biden landed a board position with the Ukrainian energy giant Burisma Holdings. Despite having no background in energy or Ukraine, the vice president’s son was paid as much as $50,000 a month, according to financial records. (He left the board in early 2019).
The Bidens are hardly alone. President Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, and her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell, are being accused of having profited from their commercial ties to Beijing. In 2004, the two had a net worth of about $3.1 million, according to public disclosures. Three years later, the range was $3.1 million to $12.7 million. The next year, their net worth rocketed to $7.3 million to $33.1 million.
The Biden campaign responded to the bombshell op-ed in protest, calling the paper either “blind” or deceptively sensationalist:
Here's the letter Biden deputy campaign manager @KBeds sent NYT editor Dean Baquet. "Are you truly blind to what you got wrong in 2016, or are you deliberately continuing policies that distort reality for the sake of controversy and the clicks…?" https://t.co/fCJ8Ii32Ds pic.twitter.com/DoVzSm5MXI
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 10, 2019
“However, it is because of the critical role in our memory, the foundations of which are under assault, that we write to protest how little the New York Times has internalized the sobering lessons of 2016 — particularly after giving top billing today to discredited right wing polemicist Peter Schweizer just this morning,” Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield wrote, adding that the outlet’s decision to feature the op-ed was “hardly the first example.”
Biden’s campaign accused the Times of spreading “a baseless conspiracy theory advanced by Rudy Giuliani,” referencing the former vice president’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma holdings, where Hunter Biden was taking in thousands of dollars per month. Biden bragged about threatening to withhold military aid during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last year and jovially stated, “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”
Neither Secret Empires nor Schweizer’s op-ed attack Biden on this point, yet the campaign appears to believe so.
“This debunked theory speculates that then Vice-President Biden somehow did anything reportedly inappropriate in successfully ridding Ukraine of a corrupt prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who the Times itself thoroughly explained at the time was derelict and the target of an international effort for removal,” Bedingfield wrote.
“What was especially troubling about the Times’s active participation in this smear campaign is that prior to its reporting on the subject by Ken Vogel, this conspiracy had been relegated to the likes of Breitbart, Russia propaganda, and another conspiracy theorist, regular Hannity guest John Solomon,” she argued.
Bedingfield accused the Times of unfairly covering Biden.
“This leaves us with a critical question: are you truly blind to what you got wrong in 2016, or are you deliberately continuing policies that distort reality for the sake of controversy and the clicks that accompany it?” she asked, ultimately demanding that the Times “publicly answer for these failures in reporting on this pressing issue fairly” and calling for a “public editor” at the paper.
A Times spokesperson responded to the letter, maintaining that the outlet’s coverage has been “fair and accurate” and adding that it will “continue to cover Joe Biden with the same tough and fair standards we apply to every candidate in the race.
“We’re happy to sit down with Biden advisers anytime to discuss news coverage,” the spokesperson added:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 10, 2019