On Thursday, President Donald Trump released the footage of an interview with CBS News’s Leslie Stahl before the interview was set to air on 60 Minutes. CBS News attacked Trump for disregarding his agreement with the news station, but the interview seems to have revealed exactly why the president thought such a drastic step necessary. In the interview, Stahl repeatedly denied the reality of two scandals — the evolving Hunter Biden scandal and the Obamagate scandal. Stahl said 60 Minutes could not air Trump’s comments about the scandals because “we can’t verify them.”
This interview took place after Facebook and Twitter took unprecedented actions to suppress a New York Post article reporting on a “smoking gun” email showing that Hunter Biden reportedly introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to an executive at the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma a few months before Biden pressured the Ukrainian president to fire the prosecutor general who claims he was investigating Burisma.
Twitter briefly suspended the accounts of the Trump campaign, the White House press secretary, and a congressional committee. Facebook, meanwhile, moved to suppress the Post article’s reach even before an independent fact check could be performed.
Trump appears to have decided to release the footage in order to preempt 60 Minutes from editing out his claims on Hunter Biden and on the Obama administration’s spying on his campaign in 2016. The president seems to have suspected that 60 Minutes would erase his comments from the record, following the lead of Facebook and Twitter in burying the Hunter Biden story.
The interview gave him good reason to suspect this.
About 20 minutes into the interview, Trump told Stahl that he wished the legacy media would ask Democratic nominee Joe Biden tough questions like the questions Stahl had given him.
“I wish you would interview Joe Biden like you interview me. It would be so good,” the president said.
Trump lamented that even amidst the evolving Hunter Biden scandal, legacy media reporters did not ask Joe Biden the tough questions. He mentioned a particularly notorious episode in which Biden was exiting an ice cream shop and a reporter wasted the opportunity to ask the candidate a serious question.
“When I watch him walk out of a store, he’s in the midst of a scandal, his family is corrupt… He’s walking with ice cream. The question the media asks him, ‘What kind of ice cream, what flavor ice cream do you have?'” Trump recounted. “He’s in the midst of a scandal…”
At that point, Stahl cut him off. “He’s not,” she said.
“Of course, he is, Leslie,” Trump responded. Then it clicked. “You’re like Big Tech, you’re protecting him.”
Stahl attempted to cover for Biden, accusing Trump of turning a nothingburger into a scandal. “You’re taking something that was investigated by a Republican committee in the Senate,” she began, echoing talking points designed to discredit the new revelations of Hunter Biden’s corrupt business practices.
Trump then challenged her to defend Hunter Biden’s actions.
“You think it’s okay for the mayor of Moscow’s wife to give him millions and millions of dollars, $3.5 million?” the president asked. “Do you think it’s okay for Hunter Biden to say, we’re giving the Big Guy ten percent of this massive amount of money they’re taking in?”
Trump hit on the extremely lucrative business deals Hunter Biden made in China, and the emerging information suggesting that Joe Biden got a large cut from these deals.
“It’s the second-biggest scandal. The biggest scandal was when they spied on my campaign,” the president said, referencing the FBI’s deceptive attempts to gain surveillance on members of the Trump campaign.
“There’s no real evidence of that,” Stahl shot back. “This is 60 Minutes. And we can’t put on things we can’t air.”
“You won’t put it on because it’s bad for Biden,” Trump charged.
“We can’t put on things we can’t verify,” Stahl insisted.
“Leslie, they spied on my campaign,” the president rejoined.
“We can’t verify that,” the host again insisted.
Tragically, it does seem that Stahl was planning to deny the reality of both the Hunter Biden emails and the Obamagate revelations. Yet the bulk of the evidence suggests that the recently revealed Hunter Biden emails are indeed genuine and a former FBI staffer pleaded guilty to deceptively editing a request for surveillance on the Trump campaign.
While the exact dimensions of these scandals remain unclear, it is absurd to claim that they are entirely unverified and that they do not meet the threshold of 60 Minutes‘ reporting.
It seems Trump was — understandably — afraid 60 Minutes would edit out his comments on these scandals in an attempt to help Joe Biden. Tragically, such a fear would be rational.
Many legacy media outlets have refused to report on the Hunter Biden emails. National Public Radio announced that it would not cover the story because the bombshell stories are “pure distractions” or “stories that are not really stories.” As PJ Media’s Jim Treacher noted, this boils down to the puerile statement, “’cause we don’t wanna, so there.”
Many media outlets seem all too willing — nay, all too eager — to bury a truly salacious story because it would harm the candidate they secretly (or perhaps not very secretly) support. But both the Hunter Biden scandal and Obamagate are real stories, whether the legacy media likes it or not. It is utterly unfair and absolutely shameless for media outlets to bury these stories simply because they reflect poorly on the candidate those outlets secretly hope will win the election.
That may be the worst scandal of all.
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.