CBS News joined the slow parade of news outlets belatedly confirming the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop, two years after “60 Minutes” headliner Lesley Stahl said its explosive videos and emails “can’t be verified.”
In the Monday report, CBS senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge said the laptop abandoned in 2019 at a Delaware computer repair shop “showed no evidence it was faked or tampered with,” based on an analysis by Minneapolis forensic experts Mark and Sean Lanterman.
The revelation came as no surprise to those on the right, who have for two years accused media outlets and platforms of covering for then-candidate Joseph R. Biden by seeking to debunk and muzzle the story after the New York Post broke it on Oct. 14, 2020.
“In 2020, CBS’ Lesley Stahl claimed Hunter Biden’s laptop ‘can’t be verified,’ and his shady business dealings ‘have been investigated and discredited,’” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican. “What changed? The facts sure didn’t.”
The New York Post ran the headline: “CBS ‘confirms’ Hunter Biden laptop is real 769 days after Post broke story.”
The conservative Media Research Center’s NewsBusters posted a list of the “12 Things That Took Less Time Than CBS Took to Acknowledge Hunter Biden’s Laptop,” including the “combined presidencies of Garfield, Harrison and Taylor” and “Donald Trump’s Twitter ban.”
“CBS News is now reporting on what Democrats told you for two years was a, ‘conspiracy theory,’” tweeted Rep.-elect Wesley Hunt, Texas Republican. “The Hunter Biden laptop is not Russian disinformation, it’s a real and very uncomfortable truth for the Biden White House.”
Two years after anyone with a functional brain realized the Hunter Biden laptop was 100% real @CBSNews has finally gotten around to reporting the Hunter Biden laptop is 100% real. pic.twitter.com/zbOnJaaiEi— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) November 21, 2022
CBS represents the latest in a string of mainstream media outlets to circle back on the so-called “laptop from hell” after initially saying the device looked like “Russian disinformation” or dismissing the content as unverifiable.
In an October 2020 interview on “60 Minutes,” then-President Donald Trump called the laptop “one of the biggest scandals I’ve ever seen, and you won’t cover it,” prompting Ms. Stahl to reply that “it can’t be verified.”
NPR said it would not cover the story because “[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.”
In September 2021, however, Politico reported that it had authenticated some of the material on the laptop.
Other outlets followed by acknowledging the veracity of some contents, including CNN, NBC News, the Washington Post and the New York Times.
In its Monday report, CBS pegged the decision to commission the forensic review on GOP’s plans to hold hearings on the Biden family’s business dealings after Republicans retake the House in January.
The laptop includes a May 2017 email about a proposed business deal with a Chinese energy company with the line “ten held by the H for the big guy,” which former Hunter Biden partner Tony Bobulinski has said refers to 10% to be held by Hunter for his father.
Mr. Biden said on the presidential campaign trail that he has never spoken to his son about his business dealings, though some of the contents on the laptop suggest otherwise, including a voicemail from Joe himself.
A White House spokesperson last week accused Republicans of waging “politically motivated attacks chock full of long-debunked conspiracy theories.”
Ms. Herridge said in her CBS report that while the laptop and its contents are authentic, “after two years of scrutiny, the laptop has not produced evidence President Biden directly benefited from his son’s business deals.”
Among those bringing up the Stahl interview Tuesday was Rep. Ronny Jackson, Texas Republican.
“Remember when Lesley Stahl of CBS told President Trump the Hunter Biden laptop story couldn’t be verified? TWO YEARS LATER, CBS has finally admitted the laptop is real. Mainstream media hacks are LAZY and INCOMPETENT! President Trump was RIGHT all along!!” Mr. Jackson tweeted.
NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham said the two-year delay “makes no sense, in that hiring an expert to analyze the laptop contents can’t take two years.”
“They wouldn’t accept that kind of timing if the laptop belonged to a Trump,” he said.
CBS said that its verification was the first conducted on a “clean copy” of the laptop, reporting that it was obtained from the lawyer for the Delaware repair shop. The network also emphasized that it had not paid the experts for their review.
The Lantermans said they obtained images of credit cards, a driver’s license and a Social Security number off the computer.
“Just the sheer volume of what we’re dealing with, it would be difficult if not impossible to fabricate,” Sean Lanterman told CBS. “It accumulated over time, which is consistent with normal, everyday use of a computer.”
“After laughing off reports for two years, the mainstream media wants to claim a victory lap over their ‘independent review,’” she tweeted. “You cannot make this up.”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.
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