Looking at news coverage of the Hunter Biden story in other countries | PolitiFact

There isn’t much evidence that the story is capturing incredible attention abroad.
In this Oct. 11, 2012, photo, Hunter Biden at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
In this Oct. 11, 2012, photo, Hunter Biden at Centre College in Danville, Ky. [ PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS | AP ]
Published Oct. 31, 2020

On Oct. 14, the New York Post published a story claiming emails showed Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, introduced his father to a Ukrainian businessman, implicating the former vice president in conservative attacks that he’s tangled up in questionable business dealings.

PolitiFact, among other American news organizations, have written about the controversial claims, which are based largely on information that the Post said was found on a laptop that was dropped off at a repair shop in Delaware only to be shared with the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

But a recent Facebook post spreading widely suggests that U.S. media are ignoring the allegations while reporters elsewhere in the world are giving it the treatment it deserves.

“Hunter Biden’s laptop is front page news in almost every country around the world except in the USA,” the post says.

It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

President Donald Trump later echoed the claim on Twitter.

“Why isn’t Biden corruption trending number one on Twitter?” he said on Oct. 28. “Biggest world story, and nowhere to be found. There is no ‘trend’, only negative stories that Twitter wants to put up. Disgraceful!”

We decided to search for newspapers where Hunter Biden’s laptop made front-page news. We found that there isn’t much evidence that the story is capturing incredible attention abroad.

There’s no one big archive of newspaper front pages from around the world. But we looked through several sources to cobble together a sample. Some news outlets around the world post online pictures of the front pages from their nations' news publications.

In Italy, Il Post, an online newspaper, publishes the daily front pages from newspapers around the country. Reading English translations of Il Post’s summaries of the front pages in the newspapers since Oct. 14, there were no mentions of Hunter or Joe Biden. Rather, the news was dominated by the coronavirus with occasional references to politicians in other countries.

BBC in England also has a section called “The Papers.” but it only shows images of front pages from around the country for the day of. On Oct. 29, there was no mention of Hunter Biden.

Reading summaries of newspaper headlines from previous days, the Bidens weren’t mentioned going back to Oct. 14.

Searching the Nexis news archive for stories mentioning Hunter Biden and a laptop in countries not including the United States, we found 999 results from Oct. 14 through Oct. 29. Sources include the Daily Mail, Yerepouni Daily news in Armenia, Fars News Agency in Iran, Thai News Service, and Sputnik News Service in Russia.

Searching for Hunter Biden and “ordinateur,” the French word for computer, we found 70 results during that time period.

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Many of the search results didn’t indicate where these stories ran, whether it was on the front page of a newspaper or buried deep in a publication’s website.

But some did. On Oct. 27, for example. De Telegraaf in the Netherlands published a front-page column by a writer critical about the media’s silence on Biden’s laptop.

We also checked with journalists who belong to the International Fact-Checking Network.

Giovanni Zagni, director of fact-checking organizations Pagella Politica and Facta, told us that he checked the front pages of dozens of major Italian newspapers from Oct. 15 through Oct. 29 and found only two front-page stories in small newspapers related to Hunter Biden’s emails.

The English translation of one headline that ran in “an extremely conservative, right-wing newspaper” read, “Social media hides the proof of Biden’s scandal,” according to Zagni. Another newspaper that describes itself as a Communist paper ran a front-page story on Oct. 18 with this translated headline: “Trump now accuses Biden and his son: ‘A family of criminals.’”

In general, Zagni said, news related to the U.S. presidential election only appeared on Italian front pages occasionally in the past few weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has monopolized media attention, Zagni said, plus, “Hunter Biden is an almost unknown figure in Italy and the story itself looks pretty complicated from here.”

In the United States, the New York Times has not put the Hunter Biden laptop story on its front page. On Oct. 15, it ran a story about the allegations on A17. On Oct. 19, it ran a story on B1 about doubts in the New York Post newsroom over the Post’s coverage of Biden’s laptop, including one Post reporter saying she only learned her byline was on the story after its publication. On Oct. 23, the Times ran a story on A19 about what the newspaper knows and doesn’t know about the laptop story.

U.S. publications have also grappled with how to cover the story. In the New York Times, Ben Smith wrote a column about how the Wall Street Journal handled the story. In the Daily Beast, columnist Matt Lewis writes about the right and wrong way to report on the son of the Democratic presidential nominee.

At PolitiFact, we’ve written several stories about the allegations about the Bidens, the most recent of which published on Oct. 29 and examines what we know about claims made by Tony Bobulinski, a business partner of Hunter Biden’s who said Joe Biden was involved in one of his family’s business ventures with a Chinese oil company.

We have put some unproven claims related to this story on the Truth-O-Meter. We have also written a number of stories without ratings. That’s because there is so much unverified information at the center of this story — details that so far have been impossible to confirm or refute due to a lack of evidence.

PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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