The New York Post ran an anti-Biden story last week that was literally unbelievable. The article, which had the superficial appearance of an "October Surprise," was filled with convoluted details involving Hunter Biden, a Ukrainian gas company, an alleged laptop, some alleged emails, and an unnamed shop owner in Delaware. The conservative tabloid was apparently handed the story by Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon.
At face value, one of the problems with the story was that the underlying premise of the allegations were discredited quite a while ago, which is why most major news organizations had the good sense to steer clear of the Post's reporting.
But it now appears that even some of the key people who work at the conservative tabloid had serious concerns about the highly dubious article. The New York Times reported overnight:
The New York Post's front-page article about Hunter Biden on Wednesday was written mostly by a staff reporter who refused to put his name on it, two Post employees said. Bruce Golding, a reporter at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid since 2007, did not allow his byline to be used because he had concerns over the article's credibility, the two Post employees said, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.
As a rule, when a reporter writes most of a story, but has so little faith in it that he doesn't want to be associated with it, that's a bad sign.
But that's really just the start. The New York Times' reporting on what transpired at the New York Post went on to note that "many" of the tabloid's staff raised concerns about the integrity of the anti-Biden smear. Editors felt compelled to press staffers to add their bylines, and at least two reporters refused.
One of the people whose name ended up on the byline arrived at the Post in the spring, after a stint as a producer of Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Another "learned that her byline was on the story only after it was published."
Giuliani, meanwhile, told the New York Times he took the anti-Biden smear to the New York Post because "either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out."
That makes it sound as if the president's personal attorney steered clear of news organizations that might scrutinize the smear before running with it.
New York magazine ran a related piece over the weekend, quoting insiders at the tabloid who now concede the anti-Biden story shouldn't have been published. "It just makes you cringe and roll your eyes, and it's hard to stomach, but at the same time we kind of know that you're signing up for stuff like that," one Post reporter said. "It's upsetting. It's disappointing. It sucks to, like, work for, like, a propaganda outlet."
But as striking as these developments are, the controversy isn't limited to an unfortunate article that shouldn't have run. As Rachel explained on Friday's show, there's reason to believe the Giuliani/Bannon scheme is part of a Russian intelligence operation.
Donald Trump is nevertheless promoting the New York Post article, even posing with the anti-Biden smear article in the Oval Office. The president has reportedly received explicit warnings that Russian intelligence services may be using Giuliani to launder propaganda, but the Republican incumbent -- four years after benefiting from a foreign influence operation -- seems unconcerned.