Fox Hosts Ignore Arrest Of Biden Informant Whose False Charges They Hyped

Fox Hosts Ignore Arrest Of Biden Informant Whose False Charges They Hyped

Sean Hannity

For months, Fox hosts and congressional Republicans have relentlessly pushed the incredibly dubious and unproven claim that then-Vice President Joe Biden was bribed by Ukrainians during the Obama administration. The informant who is the sole origin of those claims was just indicted for lying to the FBI. After news broke earlier in the day, none of Fox’s prime-time hosts even mentioned the indictment.

Fox News spent years spreading allegations that Biden was involved in corrupt practices in Ukraine in a baseless smear campaign against the president and his family. The resulting investigations led by House Republicans have all been futile, despite the constant promise of a smoking gun. (Trump's personal attempt to get involved led to his first impeachment. Fox News' research arm, the so-called “brain room,” at the time made clear that this was a right-wing disinformation campaign.)

The latest Republican theory to collapse centers on a partial copy of an “FD-1023,” a summary document of an FBI interview, with a confidential informant, which Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) circulated in 2023. The document says the informant claimed Biden accepted bribes from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his son, Hunter Biden, was serving on the board of the company.

On February 15, authorities arrested that same informant, Alexander Smirnov, in Las Vegas and charged him with lying to the bureau about Hunter and Joe Biden. The indictment alleges that Smirnov falsely told the FBI that Burisma officials told him they hired Hunter Biden to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.” Smirnov also allegedly lied to the FBI that Burisma officials had confirmed Joe Biden accepted $5 million in bribes from the company.

The contents of the FD-1023 form were never verified, but that did not stop Fox News from whipping up hysteria around the baseless allegations and decrying the alleged scandal. Host Sean Hannity alone aired 85 segments promoting the claim, including 28 monologues. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump estimates that Fox News mentioned the claim about 2,600 times in the last 12 months.

Here are a few examples to show just how far Fox personalities went with the unsubstantiated claim (which was also not limited to Fox News, spreading throughout MAGA media):

Fox News’ Jesse Watters cited an “allegation that Joe Biden accepted a “$5 million bribe … from a foreign national” to justify his claim that as vice president, Biden was working as “an intelligence op” for the FBI. Watters then claimed the FBI was “caught in a cover-up.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/5/23]

Fox & Friends Weekend host Will Cain claimed the form demonstrated “what we have suspected” and that “Joe Biden's family benefited from a pay-to-play scheme.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/10/23]

Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed that after the 1023 form came out, “you could use a crayon and connect the dots.” Campos-Duffy suggested that “we're also on the hook” for Ukrainian aid because Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky “knows exactly what happened there.” Co-host Pete Hegseth said, “So when [Joe Biden] says, ‘Whatever it takes for as long as it takes for as long as it takes, long live Ukraine,’ there might be something more there?” Campos-Duffy concluded, “Yes. So they're paying off Joe Biden, but we, the taxpayers, are paying off Zelensky and all those people to keep these secrets quiet for Joe Biden.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/10/23]

Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt lamented that other media outlets were ignoring the corruption allegations, adding, “Let me tell you why it’s a big deal.” She explained that the informant claimed the “vice president then, Biden, was paid $5 million by an executive at Burisma, and Hunter was sitting at the board at the time.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/16/23]

Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum agreed with guest Clay Travis when he argued Trump had been “held more accountable … for allegations of criminal behavior by Joe Biden” than the current president and his family have. Travis then claimed that “these allegations against Joe Biden make Watergate seem like jaywalking.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 7/21/23]

After detailing the allegations in the “long-awaited FBI FD-1023 form,” Fox host Sean Hannity declared, “It is time for a real special counsel, a real criminal investigation to take place to investigate what is rampant corruption.” He went on to claim, “We now have what is a trove of credible evidence that [Joe Biden] used the power of his office as the vice president of this country to secure massive amounts of money for his own family.” He concluded that Biden is “without a doubt … the most corrupt president in U.S. history, at least modern history.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/21/23]

On Fox & Friends, Fox host Jeanine Pirro stated that “the issue is whether or not the impeachment is appropriate. I think it is. I think it's long past time.” She cited the 1023 form and went on to state, “You don't need any more than what we have now to convict them.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/25/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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