Fri. Jun 9th, 2023
Washington DC, USA - June 4, 2012: The NPR (National Public Radio) building in Washington DC. Founded in 1970, NPR is a non-profit network of 900 radio stations across the United States. iStock© iStock

NPR quiet on Twitter Files after calling Hunter Biden laptop story a waste of time

Story by Nikolas Lanum

On Friday night, Elon Musk and Substack journalist Matt Taibbi released the “Twitter Files,” providing new details on how the social media company attempted to censor the story about then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election.

While the story generated massive interest online, NPR has not covered the new developments on its website, and has not responded to Fox News Digital’s request to see whether the outlet plans to cover the story in the future. It is unclear if it’s mentioned the story on the air, although NPR posts many of its major radio segments on the website.

NPR’s blackout on the Hunter Biden story appears to fall in line with previous comments on the topic, when it made the unusual move of baldly announcing why it wouldn’t cover the story.

In October 2020, NPR public editor Kelly McBride responded to a listener who asked why NPR had not reported on scandals surrounding Hunter Biden, including business connections he made overseas. That same month, the New York Post had dropped its reporting on Biden’s laptop, which was then suppressed by Big Tech giants Facebook and Twitter, and dismissed as Russian disinformation by numerous outlets.

McBride claimed there are “many, many red flags in that New York Post investigation” and Intelligence officials have warned “that Russia has been working overtime” to keep the story in the news.

She also included a quote from NPR managing editor Terence Samuel, who took the outlet’s position on the story even further.

“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. And quite frankly, that’s where we ended up, this was… a politically driven event, and we decided to treat it that way,” Samuel said.

Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi revealed the "Twitter Files" on Friday, a thread revealing the inner communications of Twitter employees and U.S. lawmakers surrounding the censorship of NY Post's Hunter Biden laptop story. Fox News© Fox News
Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi revealed the “Twitter Files” on Friday, a thread revealing the inner communications of Twitter employees and U.S. lawmakers surrounding the censorship of NY Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story. Fox News© Fox News

NPR’s position on the story came around the time that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that Hunter Biden’s laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”

Just six months later, NPR issued a correction after initially reporting that the laptop was “discredited by U.S. intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations.” The updated version of the NPR story said, “Numerous news organizations cast doubt on the credibility of the laptop story.”

However, the laptop has since been verified by several high-profile news networks, including Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News and CNN.

Many of the same outlets did cover the Twitter Files over the weekend, although often dismissively.

Rolling Stone writer Adam Rawnsley yawned at Taibbi’s Twitter thread findings, calling it “anticlimactic” and a “snoozefest.” He argued Musk had bored readers with old information.

The Washington Post waited until Saturday evening to cover the Twitter Files, which an article knocked as a “dud” that was “billed as a bombshell.”

Hunter Biden's laptop was at the center of a Big Tech censorship campaign in 2020. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters© Kevin Lamarque
Hunter Biden’s laptop was at the center of a Big Tech censorship campaign in 2020. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters© Kevin Lamarque

Left-wing NBC reporter Ben Collin said Taibbi’s work was “unbelievable hack stuff” on Friday evening. On Sunday, he shared an opinion piece declaring it “the opposite” of a scandal.

The major Sunday shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN devoted a total of seven seconds to the story, prompting Musk to sound off on the overwhelming silence.

While NPR has written numerous pieces about Musk’s management of Twitter in the last week, none of the stories centered on the Twitter Files or Hunter Biden.

When the New York Post story on Hunter Biden broke in October 2020, many of the major media companies, including CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, dismissed the story as “Russian disinformation,” and unworthy of coverage.

In April, NPR investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan tweeted “Add @NPR to the list” of media who need to repent for their dismissal of the story. “Newsroom editors called it ‘not a real story.’ The ‘Hunter Biden laptop’ investigation may end up being a tax case, a hill of beans, or something else. But what it’s always been is a story,” she said.

Fox News’ Kristine Parks and Hanna Panreck contributed to this report.