Literal “dog bites man” stories involving Joe Biden’s dog Major are receiving more press attention than the contents of Hunter Biden’s memoir, Beautiful Things, and the White House is counting its blessings.
Per Olivia Nuzzi’s excellent New York magazine report on how the memoir was received by the White House when it was published last week:
“I’m shocked,” a senior White House official said. “I get stuff on the dogs all the time. I’ve been so surprised I didn’t get anything on Hunter.” Whether they had braced for a media frenzy or not, members of the Joe Biden administration report that, internally, the arrival of Hunter’s book (which was ghostwritten by the journalist Drew Jubera) on April 6 was a big nonevent. Highly visible yet hardly noticed, everywhere and nowhere at once: It’s the nature of the story of addiction in America and the nature of the story of the story of Hunter Biden. “It’s just not something people talk about,” a second senior White House official said. “It’s the mood that’s set. I don’t think it’s out of fear or because it’s ‘off-limits.’ It’s just not very kind.”
The memoir details the younger Biden’s life-long struggle with drug addiction, which has been well-documented in recent years, mostly by conservative media and tabloids. The lack of media interest can be partially attributed to the fact that the memoir rehashes familiar terrain for anyone who has kept up with Hunter’s travails. That being said, one can’t help but detect the same reticence to cover a story that might hurt Biden that was present during the campaign, as Nuzzi acknowledges in the piece.
In the 2020 election, Trump overplayed his hand with Hunter, hitting himself in the face instead of his opponent, resulting in his first impeachment and trapping the idea of Hunter-the-bogeyman in the realm of the conservative media. Any story about the son of the Democratic nominee was not only at risk of appearing like a gross attack on a recently recovering addict but also like a form of abetting a right-wing conspiracy.
Nuzzi attributes the media’s allergy to anti-Biden stories to a desire not to reinforce right-wing fever dreams, but a journalist with access could easily ask Hunter some pointed questions without descending into conspiracy-mongering.
For example, one of the journalists who lovingly interviewed Biden about his memoir could have easily asked whether the signature that appears on a quote form, issued by the repair shop where he allegedly left his laptop, is really his. If the form is a forgery, surely Biden would be eager to say so.
Clearly, mainstream media outlets avoided the Biden email story like the plague during the campaign out of a desire to avoid being blamed for Trump’s reelection.
So, what’s the excuse now that Biden is safely in office?