Imagine a dystopian future in which large swaths of the media collude with a cabal of present and former government bureaucrats to successfully sway, through a concerted campaign of disinformation, the course of a U.S. presidential election.

Conjuring all of this up would actually require some imagination, at least for me, if it had not already happened. Two years ago, during the course of the hotly contested 2020 presidential election, much of the media, along with a cabal of media “experts,” managed to bury the now-confirmed Hunter Biden laptop story in a manner that the Watergate conspirators could have only dreamed of.

Criticize Russian, state-controlled media all you want for feeding dollops of pro Kremlin propaganda to Russian citizens concerning the war in Ukraine. But they have some stiff competition from the west. If you are disturbed by the former, you ought to be even more disturbed by the latter — which directly affects all of us.

Do I believe that the Hunter Biden laptop story rivals Russian disinformation concerning Ukraine? No, I do not. But the parallels are disturbing.

If ever there was a living story of a Prodigal Son, it’s Hunter Biden. Despite having grown up with all of the advantages of his father’s political connections, a Harvard and Yale education, a law degree, a commission in the U.S. Navy and access to considerable wealth, Hunter Biden had managed to distinguish himself not as a politician, or legal professional, or member of the military, but as a failed Naval officer (discharged for drug abuse) who has spent much of his adult life scheming to milk his father’s political connections for profit.

That’s just the beginning of the “ew” factor when it comes to Hunter Biden. Biden dated his brother’s widow for three years very shortly after his brother’s death. During this same period, he settled a paternity suit for a contemporaneous affair with a woman from Arkansas. By his own admission, Biden smoked crack while working for various government entities and while lobbying overseas in China and Russia — where he was surely under surveillance and a significant threat for espionage and blackmail.

Yet with all of the younger Biden’s various faux pas well-known, when the New York Post published, in October 2020, a story concerning the discovery of an abandoned laptop in a Delaware repair shop owned by Hunter Biden that contained very damaging information about him and potentially his father, then presidential candidate Joe Biden, the response by most of the media and the pundit class was to label this as either a conspiracy theory, Russian disinformation or, most commonly, both.

This, in my opinion, was more than just incompetence, negligence or bias. This was a deliberate attempt to ensure that candidate Joe Biden maintained his narrow lead over President Donald Trump in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign. This was an attempt to avoid a redux of 2016, which many media supporters of Hillary Clinton are convinced was a case of “Russian disinformation” causing her loss to Donald Trump — as opposed to her general unpopularity across a broad swath of the country outside of the D.C. Beltway and other Democratic enclaves.

To be clear, this, in my opinion, was no mistake — this was a deliberate action by the media and bureaucrats to influence the outcome of a presidential election through disinformation in order to unseat a President that they disliked and feared.

Now that this is all out in the public, verified and under legal investigation, what has mainstream media’s response been? Not much. One lame mea culpa from the Washington Post that was mostly gobbledygook about caution due to the tenor of the moment. How ironic that this appeared in a newspaper with “Democracy dies in darkness” on its masthead.

It’s highly unlikely that media conglomerates with the investigative resources of the Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, etc., did not know that there was actually some “there” there with the Hunter Biden laptop story. That makes all of this malfeasance, not just a mistake in judgment. It wasn’t “didn’t know,” it was “didn’t want to know.” And it’s one of many reasons why you are not alone if you don’t trust the media in this country to call balls and strikes fairly.

I happen to despise Donald Trump. But like it or not, he unquestionably won the 2016 election (just like he unquestionably lost the 2020 election). That was the verdict of the American people, and I respect it, even if it’s not what I wished for. But the majority of the media didn’t see it that way. Many media organizations made it a point to promote and/or gin up dirt on Trump for his entire term in office while ignoring similar behavior from the scion of a favored opposition candidate.

You may be one of many who believe that this story is an unfortunate, but excusable, example of a pillar of society, the fourth estate, standing up for the greater good. I’ve even heard some refer to this as a noble example of “taking one for the team.”

If you are one of those so enamored, I simply invite you to bide your time until it’s you who are on the losing side of a disinformation campaign designed to steer the course of history away from the outcome of a legitimate democratic process. If we continue along the path of ends justifying the means, you might not have to wait very long.

Idaho Club award-winning columnist Martin Hackworth of Pocatello is a physicist, writer and retired Idaho State University faculty member who now spends his time with family, riding mountain bikes and motorcycles and playing guitars. His commentary may be found on Substack ( and and his video blog, “Howlin’ at the Moon in ii-V-I,” may be found at and on YouTube at

© Copyright 2022, Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, ID), All Rights Reserved.


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