With Donald Trump banned from most respectable social media platforms, political disinformation needs to find other outlets to reach the unsuspecting public.
Surprisingly, one of those outlets turns out to be an otherwise respected on-line news publication, POLITICO, which is facing controversy after publishing a thinly-sourced story involving Hunter Biden, the Secret Service, and a missing gun.
According to POLITICO:
“On Oct. 23, 2018, President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and daughter in law Hallie were involved in a bizarre incident in which Hallie took Hunter’s gun and threw it in a trash can behind a grocery store, only to return later to find it gone.”
“Delaware police began investigating, concerned that the trash can was across from a high school and that the missing gun could be used in a crime, according to law enforcement officials and a copy of the police report obtained by POLITICO.”
“But a curious thing happened at the time: Secret Service agents approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun and asked to take the paperwork involving the sale, according to two people, one of whom has firsthand knowledge of the episode and the other was briefed by a Secret Service agent after the fact.”
“The gun store owner refused to supply the paperwork, suspecting that the Secret Service officers wanted to hide Hunter’s ownership of the missing gun in case it were to be involved in a crime, the two people said. The owner, Ron Palmieri, later turned over the papers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which oversees federal gun laws.”
So far it seems like a perfectly legitimate story for a news organization to cover.
It is the story’s next paragraph that raised flags among some readers, however.
“The Secret Service says it has no record of its agents investigating the incident, and Joe Biden, who was not under protection at the time, said through a spokesperson he has no knowledge of any Secret Service involvement,” POLITICO writes.
While the article goes on to say that the gun was eventually returned by a man who “regularly rummages through the grocery’s store’s trash to collect recyclable items,” according to its undisclosed sources, the mystery of possible Secret Service involvement in the incident remains the focus of the rest of the article, despite the denials from both the agency itself and the Biden administration.
With Hunter Biden being the target of some of the worst negative campaign propaganda generated by Donald Trump and his evil minions, the sudden resurrection of attention on an old incident involving the current president’s son smacked of a political hit job to many social media commentators.
I guess the important question is was there a bs politically motivated investigation they were doing on behalf of Trump. If so, that would be seriously concerning
— Ryan the Aloe plant (@rd_aloe) March 25, 2021
— Votey McVoteface (@HouseofFran1) March 25, 2021
— twyla do (@twylado) March 25, 2021
Or even DeSantis not speaking to reporters and giving vaccine priority to his private wealthy donors.
— Let The Science Speak (@WuWei2021) March 25, 2021
Maybe it's a coincidence, but Tara Palmeri, one of the journalists who wrote this piece, has been involved in quite a few odd, suspicious stories.
— lauren girard (@laureniscooking) March 25, 2021
With publications willing to run with poorly-sourced right-wing conspiracy theories to try to attract the diminishing number of clicks dedicated to political news in these less turbulent times with the Biden administration, readers need to be more on guard than ever.
At least when the disinformation and politically motivated hit jobs were published on Donald Trump’s social media feed, we all knew immediately to discount their credibility.
These days, disinformation could be anywhere, and readers should take everything they read with a note of caution.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.