Friday 11 August 2023

Washington Post quietly updates consequential pre-2020 election 'fact-check' about Biden's meeting with his son's Burisma partner

 The Washington Post has once again stealthily updated — instead of correcting — a misleading and consequential fact-check it had run ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The fact-check, which has reportedly been subject to six updates and an entirely new explanatory article, was used to great effect by the Biden campaign and elements of the liberal media to downplay an accurate New York Post report that indicated the former Democratic vice president had been hobnobbing with one of Hunter Biden's Burisma partners.

Despite the Washington Post's latest effort to quietly amend its misleading reporting, neither the paper nor the reporter responsible for the so-called fact-check appear willing to publicly come to terms with how they misled voters.

What's the background?

On Oct. 14, 2020, the Washington Post's so-called resident fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, downplayed a bombshell New York Post article that came out earlier in the day concerning an email referencing an encounter between then-Vice President Joe Biden and one of Hunter Biden's Ukrainian business partners. 

The email was sent to Hunter Biden by senior Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi, thanking him for introducing him to his father.

Pozharskyi reportedly met with Biden on April 16, 2015, at a dinner during which Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina — whom a U.S. Senate report previously accused of wiring $3.5 million to the first son — and the former mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, also made an appearance. 

Kessler's fact-check relied heavily upon denials from close Biden allies who had been attempting to get the former vice president elected at the time and contained suggestions that "no such meeting took place."

Andrew Bates, then a spokesman for the Biden campaign and now deputy White House press secretary, went so far as to suggest there was no record of that record even being on the vice president's public schedule.

Kessler's fact-check further suggested that:

  • the email might not be authentic;
  • the email could "be part of a broader disinformation campaign";
  • the email might not be from Hunter Biden's laptop; and that
  • Hunter Biden may not have left his laptop at the Delaware computer repair shop in the first place.

It was not until March 30, 2022, that the Post updated Kessler's original fact-check to note "some of the data on the portable drive appears to be authentic," including some 22,000 emails.

Kessler also stated with confidence in his fact-check that it was a "falsehood" to allege that the "elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company."

RealClearInvestigations reported that the Biden campaign, the liberal media, and social media platforms cited Kessler's fact-check along with the discredited Hunter Biden "intel" letter — that congressional investigators have since claimed was orchestrated by then-senior Biden campaign adviser Antony Blinken — when trying to discredit the New York Post's damning report in the final days of his presidential campaign.

The Washington Post even boasted in 2021 how its likely election-impacting fact-check "turned out to be one of the most read articles in our 13-year history."

Stealth update

The Washington Post's most recent stealth update, published on Aug. 3, was prompted by the testimony of Hunter Biden's former business partner Devon Archer before Congress, who noted Kessler's article was "not correct reporting," and some prompting from RealClearInvestigations.

The Washington Post, apparently fact-checking Kessler's fact-check, added Archer's contentions that:

  • Joe Biden had spoken to persons other than Alex Karloutsos;
  • Pozharskyi was in attendance; and
  • Kenes Rakishev, a Kazakh businessman, was not in attendance at this dinner but rather at one a year later.

The New York Post noted that whereas the Washington Post provided corrections and retractions for its debunked 2017 and 2019 "Russia hoax" reports, it has not issued formal corrections for Kessler's stories.

Washington Post spokeswoman Kathy Baird declined to comment to RealClearInvestigations on whether Kessler had been "too trusting of his Biden sources" even though documented evidence was available at the time, contradicting what Biden aides otherwise told him.

Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations indicated that "[b]y his own measure, Kessler’s Biden-Burisma dinner story containing significant factual errors would have earned four Pinocchios."

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