Fox's “news division” reportedly passed on Giuliani’s Hunter Biden story, but it still can’t stop talking about the story

Between Wednesday and noon on Friday, Fox’s “news division” ran 46 segments discussing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story. Fox’s opinion side ran dozens more. (Between the news and opinion divisions, Fox ran over 100 segments in the time period.)

We now know that the “news division” reportedly doesn’t even trust the underlying evidence.

Colby Hall at Mediaite reports that Fox’s “news division” passed on Rudy Giuliani’s Hunter Biden stories that the station’s corporate cousin the New York Post eventually published.

Mediaite has learned that Fox News was first approached by Rudy Giuliani to report on a tranche of files alleged to have come from Hunter Biden’s unclaimed laptop left at a Delaware computer repair shop, but that the news division chose not to run the story unless or until the sourcing and veracity of the emails could be properly vetted.

With the general election just three weeks away, Giuliani ultimately brought the story to the New York Post, which shares the same owner, Rupert Murdoch. The tabloid has been exhaustively covering the contents of the laptop — which include everything from emails regarding Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian company to personal photos of the recovering addict — with each morsel being amplified in the conservative media world, including on Fox News’ top-rated opinion programs. Thus far, the Fox’s News division has only been able to verify one email from the tranche leaked.

But according to two sources familiar with the matter, the lack of authentication of Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop, combined with established concerns about Giuliani as a reliable source and his desire for unvetted publication, led the network’s news division to pass. Fox News declined to comment on this story.

In the piece, Mediaite claims that Fox's “news division appears to have applied basic journalistic standards in declining to turn such an explosive story without verification.” But the same news division has spent endless time on the story since the Post published it. It’s clear that whoever leaked this to Mediaite wants it both ways: to be able to give the story an incredible supply of oxygen while also claiming to not be responsible. There are no reasons for anyone to play along with the charade. 

In fact, Donald Trump’s YouTube channel even uploaded a clip of Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier talking about the story, titled “WATCH: Bret Baier reports on the bombshell Hunter Biden story.“

The Mediate story comes shortly after reports in The New York Times and New York magazine detailed a tumultuous editing process within the Post. As I previously noted:

  • The report was mostly written by a staff writer who refused to put their name on it, per two Post sources.
  • Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani says he gave the material to the Post because he was worried other outlets would practice actual journalism: “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."
  • Top figures at the paper were involved in deciding how to proceed, including Editor-in-Chief Stephen Lynch, Digital Editor-in-Chief Michelle Gotthelf, and adviser Colin Allan.
  • Editors at the Post pressed people there to add their name to the byline, according to two sources who spoke to The New York Times' Katie Robertson.
  • Of the two bylines on the piece, we had known that Emma-Jo Morris had worked at Sean Hannity's Fox News show recently, and that her Instagram had pictures of her with figures including Hannity, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon. Robertson adds that Gabrielle Fonrouge, who had the other byline on the piece, did not know that she had a byline until after the piece went live. Robertson writes that three sources told her that Fonrouge “had little to do with the reporting or writing of the article.”

There are still questions about the provenance of this material from Giuliani and how these emails were created and ended up in the possession of the personal attorney for the president of the United States. There are already reports that there are investigations looking into whether the published emails are connected to Russian intelligence disinformation. We also know that Trump’s own national security adviser personally warned him in 2019 about Giuliani possibly running with Russian disinformation. Many Trump media allies have suggested that they learned about the Biden smear campaign around the same time that Russian intelligence discussed stolen Burisma emails.

Especially relevant here is that Fox News’ own “Brain Room” compiled an internal briefing book warning of a disinformation campaign from Ukraine which targeted Joe Biden and involved several key Fox players, including Giuliani. 

All along, through impeachment and through this story, Fox News has known that this Biden Ukraine smear was discredited but has continued to be a key player in advancing it regardless.