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Hunter Biden laptop re-emerges as media embarrassment as it becomes key evidence at gun trial

The reporter who broke the New York Post's bombshell story on the Hunter Biden laptop speaks out after the legacy media rejected the scandal during the 2020 election.

Hunter Biden’s scandalous laptop, which was originally dismissed as Russian disinformation by many media outlets, pundits and even liberal allies in the intelligence community, was formally entered into evidence and confirmed by the FBI this week in his ongoing federal gun crime trial. 

The "laptop from hell," which is filled with videos and photos of drug use, sex acts, and sensitive business communications, was shown to the jury on Tuesday to try to prove the president's son lied about using drugs on a gun purchase form. While the laptop has since been authenticated by a variety of news outlets, it was rejected when the New York Post first reported it in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election. Twitter, claiming the story violated its terms of service on hacked materials, locked the New York Post out of its account for weeks and even blocked users from sharing the story link.

Former New York Post deputy politics editor Emma-Jo Morris, who had the lead byline on the initial bombshell report, said she didn’t need a laptop to be confirmed by the FBI or mainstream outlets to feel vindicated.


"I thought it was insane, and almost beyond parody what I was watching, as the entire political establishment, intelligence community, media establishment, big tech, everyone just made up a story that I knew wasn't true," Morris, now at Breitbart News, told Fox News Digital

"It's kind of funny now to watch them all have to walk back this kind of crazy, outrageous claim that they had all made," she continued. "But I was vindicated the minute we pressed publish."

In one of the most memorable media conversations regarding the bombshell story, Trump appeared on CBS’ "60 Minutes" shortly after the story emerged and called the laptop "one of the biggest scandals" he’s ever seen. But interviewer Lesley Stahl was insistent that there was no way to conclude the laptop or its contents were real. 

"Excuse me, they found the laptop. Lesley. Listen," Trump said, as Stahl repeatedly interjected that the laptop could not be verified. 

"What can’t be verified?" Trump asked.

"The laptop!" Stahl exclaimed. 

"Why do you say that?" Trump responded, before further arguing the laptop had to be legitimate. 

Stahl’s employer, CBS News, confirmed in 2022 via its own forensic investigation that the laptop and its contents were legitimate. The admission prompted many Trump allies to vilify Stahl, and Hunter Biden’s trial has reignited criticism of the veteran journalist.  

"Stahl owes Trump an apology," Townhall senior editor Matt Vespa wrote Thursday

CBS News did not immediately respond to a series of questions, including whether Stahl plans to apologize. 

Stahl’s dismissal is perhaps the most memorable, but she is far from the only journalist who cast aspersions on the laptop during an astonishing display of media-tech coordination. 

Symone Sanders-Townsend appeared on MSNBC as a Biden spokeswoman that month and bluntly stated that any attempts by then-President Trump to amplify the story would be viewed as "Russian misinformation." She now hosts a show on the network.

MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson said, "It is so obviously a Russian operation," when asked about the laptop. "Deadline: White House" host Nicolle Wallace was more confident in dismissing Hunter Biden's laptop, telling viewers, "We shouldn't look at it as anything other than a Russian disinformation operation." MSNBC anchor Katy Tur mocked the Post's story, saying it "dropped like a bomb" but then withered under scrutiny.

MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle attacked those who were covering the Hunter Biden controversy, referring to it as a "so-called story" with "unverified claims."


CNN was caught spiking the laptop story when it first broke, according to recordings obtained by Project Veritas that were released in December 2020.

"Obviously, we're not going with the New York Post story right now on Hunter Biden," CNN political director David Chalian said during a conference call on Oct. 14, the same day the Post published its first story on Hunter Biden's emails. Chalian later insisted the report was "giving its marching orders" to the "right-wing echo chamber about what to talk about today."

Then-CNN president Jeff Zucker told his staff on Oct. 16, "So, I don't think that we should be repeating unsubstantiated smears just because the right-wing media suggests that we should." 

CNN and other outlets have said their skepticism at the time stemmed from Rudy Giuliani – Trump's lawyer at the time who obtained the materials for the New York Post story – not giving them access to the laptop hard drive so they could verify its contents.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Alex Marquardt said at the time the laptop was likely part of Russia's latest interference in the U.S. election. 

A spokesperson for CNN rejected the premise of Fox News Digital's inquiries. 

The Russian disinformation narrative stemmed in part from an open letter penned by 51 former intel officials, several of whom endorsed Joe Biden for president that year, who declared that the laptop had "all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation."

The letter, first reported by Politico which ran the more declarative headline "Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say," suggested the emails were hacked and could have been tampered with by the Kremlin in order to make its contents look incriminating.

Among the signatories include former DNI-turned-CNN analyst James Clapper, former CIA Director-turned-MSNBC analyst John Brennan and former CIA chief of staff-turned-MSNBC analyst Jeremy Bash. Clapper later distanced himself from the letter, 

Politico's report on the open letter quickly went viral and was parroted by Biden supporters, including his then-future White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who is now an MSNBC host.

Then-candidate Joe Biden was quick to cite the letter during a 2020 presidential debate when he called claims the laptop was authentic "a bunch of garbage" and only believed by then-President Trump and his allies. 


"Special Report" anchor Bret Baier played Biden’s debate moment this week when discussing Hunter Biden's trial with his All-Star Panel. 

"Now, the U.S. government is saying this is not only legitimate, but it wasn’t tampered with," Baier said, prompting Morgan Ortagus to declare anyone who signed the letter owes an apology to the American people.

"There is so much damage that has been done to the intelligence community by these former Obama and Biden appointees politicizing this case before an election," Ortagus said. 

"It was an untruth. Maybe it was a lie, maybe the president didn’t realize he was lying to the American people, but ultimately that’s what happened during that debate," she continued. "The president and every, single person who signed that letter not only owe an apology to the American people, but there needs to be a reckoning." 

The Washington Post Fact-Checker dinged Biden last year for electing to "misleadingly embrace the message conveyed in the headline" by Politico during the debate.

Ahead of the debate, NBC News correspondent Hallie Jackson previewed Trump's attack lines as perhaps part of a "foreign disinformation campaign."

"The president's also expected to bring up Hunter Biden and unverified emails of his business dealings, described by many intelligence experts as having hallmarks of a foreign disinformation campaign," Jackson reported at the time. 

Then-Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent declared the day after the New York Post first began reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden's laptop that it was "Trump's fake new Biden scandal," calling the allegations "laughably weak." 

The Washington Post also used a variation of the "Republicans pounce" trope to frame the story, running the headline, "Three weeks before Election Day, Trump allies go after Hunter — and Joe — Biden."


The New York Times ran a report sounding the alarm about "Russian disinformation," claiming then-President Trump was warned that Russians were "using" Giuliani, who was given the laptop before providing its contents to the press, to spread false claims about the Biden family.

Taxpayer-backed outlet NPR infamously issued a statement at the time declaring it wouldn't cover the laptop.

"We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions," NPR managing editor Terrance Samuels said.

Uri Berliner, the veteran NPR editor recently ousted for speaking out about the liberal bias within NPR's newsroom, recalled in his essay "I listened as one of NPR’s best and most fair-minded journalists said it was good we weren’t following the laptop story because it could help Trump." 

Long after President Biden took office, several news organizations, including CNN, MSNBC, NBC News, CBS News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, and NPR verified the laptop's legitimacy to some degree.

None of the media outlets, other than CNN, responded to Fox News Digital's inquiries.

The laptop saga began when the New York Post reported on Oct. 14, 2020, about a 2015 email from a Ukrainian energy executive to Hunter Biden, thanking him for introducing him to his father, that it obtained from the hard drive of the laptop. Joe Biden was vice president at the time of the message, and his son then enjoyed a lucrative position on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm, raising concerns of an attempted influence-peddling scheme.

The laptop's contents included a peek into Hunter Biden's overseas business dealings, as well as more sordid material like homemade sex tapes and videos showing him using illegal drugs. 

The laptop, which was allegedly dropped off at a repair shop in 2019 by its owner and never recovered, is back in the national zeitgeist as the president's son is facing charges of making a false statement in the purchase of a gun, making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federally-licensed gun dealer and possession of a gun by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance. 

Biden pleaded not guilty in the case. The total maximum prison time for the three charges could be up to 25 years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release. 

Fox News Digital’s Gabriel Hays, Hanna Panreck, Emma Colton and David Rutz contributed to this report. 

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