Still Lying: Fox Totally Falsifies GOP 'Star Witness' Testimony On Biden
Following the July 31 testimony to the House Oversight Committee by former Hunter Biden business partner Devon Archer, right-wing media outlets arrived at what should have been a very uncomfortable crossroads: They had relentlessly hyped a narrative that Archer would seriously incriminate President Joe Biden, but Archer denied that Joe Biden had talked business with his son’s associates and instead confirmed Hunter had sold only the “illusion” of access to his father. The full release of the transcript further busted right-wing narratives about any vast Biden family corruption linked to the president.
Fox News had an easy solution to this dilemma, however: It has simply claimed repeatedly that Archer had said the opposite of all these things. The brazenness with which the network is voicing these falsehoods is another example proving that Fox is simply a political propaganda outlet rather than any kind of news organization.
False: Joe Biden participated in nefarious business calls and dinners with Hunter Biden
The closest that House Republican investigators got to linking Joe Biden with his son’s business deals was that the two of them frequently spoke on the phone, and that Hunter Biden would put his father on speakerphone while in the company of his own business associates. But in his testimony, Archer explicitly said the two Bidens had been checking in on each other, making small talk — as well as discussing Beau Biden’s terminal cancer — and not discussing business.“Say, where are you, how’s the weather, how’s the fishing, how’s the — whatever it may be, whatever,” Archer said, describing the calls. “It was very, you know, casual conversations about — you know, not about cap tables or financials or anything like that.” Archer also said that while Joe Biden did attend several dinners with his son and some of his associates, but these dinners remained casual and they did not discuss business, instead discussing the U.N. World Food Program on which Hunter Biden then also served.But as Fox News hosts and guests tell it, Archer described proof of an intricate involvement between Joe Biden and his son’s business partners.
- Fox News contributor Leo Terrell claimed the phone calls were “proof that Joe Biden knew what was going on” with Hunter Biden's business. Terrell proclaimed that “Joe Biden lied to the American people. He lied, and this witness has proven that he lied” when the president previously stated that he had no involvement with his son's business. Terrell continued, “Joe Biden getting on the phone and basically stating, ‘Hello,’ he made that call, is proof that Joe Biden knew what was going on.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/1/23]
- Fox guest and former Senate Republican staffer Garrett Ventry boasted that Archer’s “explosive testimony” showed Joe Biden “was potentially involved” and “certainly had knowledge” of Hunter Biden’s business. Ventry claimed that “we learned the day before [from] Devon Archer's explosive testimony that Joe Biden potentially was involved in Hunter Biden's business dealings, he certainly had knowledge of them.” Ventry further claimed that the indictment of former President Donald Trump for attempting to obstruct the 2020 election was really meant to be a distraction from this “explosive” evidence from Archer. [Fox News, America Reports, 8/2/23]
- Fox News prime-time host Jesse Watters declared, “The full transcript of Biden's former business partner, Devon Archer, has just been released and it confirms everything that Joe Biden and the media have been lying to you about.” In fact, Archer’s testimony disproved everything that Watters and right-wing media have claimed. [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/3/23]
- Fox host Maria Bartiromo said that Archer’s testimony about Hunter Biden putting his father on speakerphone “contradicts President Biden's repeated denial that he had no knowledge of his son's business deals.” In fact, Archer said that they did not discuss business during these speakerphone exchanges. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 8/6/23]
- Conservative pundit Peter Schweitzer falsely claimed that Archer “unequivocally said any people discussing or claiming that he [Joe Biden] was not involved with his son's business is totally and completely incorrect.” Archer actually said that he was never aware of Hunter Biden discussing business with his father. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 8/6/23]
False: Hunter Biden sold access to Joe Biden and obtained changes in U.S. policy
Right-wing media has repeatedly mischaracterized conclusions from the testimony as proof that Hunter Biden sold access to then-Vice President Joe Biden. Archer’s testimony showed that Hunter Biden sold the “illusion of access” with no actual influence from his father. Archer further confirmed: “He did not ask him — to my knowledge, I never saw him say, do anything for any particular business,” nor was he aware of anything Joe Biden ever did in that direction.
- Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett: “Devon Archer absolutely demolished Joe Biden's lies that he knew nothing, had no involvement. Archer confirmed that Hunter was selling access to his father and promises of influence.” Archer confirmed that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business deals, and that Hunter Biden sold an “illusion” of access rather than the real thing. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/3/23]
- Right-wing author David Marcus: “There's no question left as to whether Joe Biden was involved in Hunter Biden's scheme to sell influence. Joe Biden was absolutely involved. The only question is did he know he was involved?” Again, Archer actually testified under oath that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business dealings. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/7/23]
- Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel: “The important thing we learned this week from Devon Archer is that whenever Hunter Biden wanted to show that he had access to Washington, his dad willingly got on the phone. He came to the meetings, and it was all designed to help Hunter suggest he had access to the wheels of power.” Archer said that Joe Biden got on the phone with his son as they discussed Beau Biden’s terminal cancer and to check-in with each other emotionally. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/4/23]
- Fox & Friends guest Brett Tolman: “This is the vice president of the United States getting on calls with foreign leaders in order to sell to them access and sell to them capability of helping them when they get in trouble.” This statement has no connection to reality. Archer testified that whenever Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone, the result was an exchange of friendly hellos. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/23]
False: Joe Biden fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to help Burisma
Fox News has continued to push the years-old smear campaign that led to then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, claiming that as vice president, Joe Biden pushed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the energy firm Burisma when Hunter Biden was on the company’s board.In fact, Archer confirmed that Shokin’s firing was consistent with a longstanding anti-corruption policy. Furthermore, Archer explained that “the firing of Shokin was bad for Burisma because he was under control,” meaning that Shokin was not seriously prosecuting Burisma and might have let the company off easy on any corruption charges. For example, Shokin’s lack of cooperation with a U.K. investigation had already led to the head of the company’s assets being unfrozen. Archer’s testimony is consistent with voluminous other reporting over the years demonstrating that Shokin was removed by the Ukrainian government at the urging of American and European officials concerned that the prosecutor was himself corrupt. (The international groundswell to remove Shokin actually predated Biden’s involvement.)Fox News, however, has fully resurrected this zombie narrative:
- Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt stated that Joe Biden “went over there and he fired the prosecutor that was investigating the company for corruption.” For her proof of this, Earhardt cited an article in the right-wing Washington Examiner. Archer confirmed that Shokin’s firing was part of an anti-corruption policy. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/23]
- New York Post columnist Miranda Devine said Joe Biden “withheld a billion dollars or threatened to withhold a billion dollars of U.S. aid from Ukraine unless they fired the very prosecutor who was investigating the company” that employed Hunter Biden. In reality, Archer said that Shokin’s firing was “bad for Burisma.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/23]
- Fox News host Todd Piro: “Burisma was worried that people would legally mess with them, those people being Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor. So who could they get? Joe Biden.” Shokin was precisely not messing with Burisma, as the head of the company’s assets had been unfrozen “because of a lack of cooperation from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/3/23]
- Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy falsely claimed that Joe Biden “used his influence to help get a prosecutor fired, who happens to have been investigating the company that was paying his son $83,000 a month.” Archer confirmed that Shokin was not effectively investigating Burisma and his role as prosecutor was viewed as “good” for the company. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/4/23]
- Former Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker: “Joe Biden brags about firing the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. This is a prima facie case.” Shokin was failing to investigate Burisma. [Fox News, Life, Liberty & Levin, 8/6/23]
False: Joe Biden is compromised by foreign governments
Archer testified that he and Hunter Biden “didn’t raise capital from the Chinese,” and that they never spoke about any alleged prospects of Chinese investments being important to his family. But in Fox News’ telling, Archer’s testimony was proof that Joe Biden is in hock to foreign governments, especially China.
- Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed that “Joe Biden and his family have gotten, you know, enormously wealthy off of this kind of influence peddling. … These countries have something over him. He is compromised.” Archer shot down claims that foreign business dealings were of importance to Joe Biden. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 8/5/23]
- The Hill media columnist Joe Concha: “You have a president that can be compromised by the likes of China, Ukraine, Romania, you can go down the list. … If that’s the case, then this makes Watergate look like a smash-and-grab.” Archer denied claims that Joe Biden had been bribed. [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 8/7/23]
- Fox News host Pete Hegseth claimed that “the Biden family can be bought and the Chinese will pay big bucks for it, or should I say big Yuans.” Archer said that he and Hunter Biden did not raise money from China. Instead, Hegseth switched from citing Archer to then relying on an article from serial smear merchant John Solomon for this particular claim. (Solomon’s article involves Hunter Biden’s business activities from 2017 and 2018, a time when his father did not hold any public office.) [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/4/23]
- Bartiromo claimed that Archer said “what he called the brand was what China, Ukraine and Russia all wanted to pay for, with Joe Biden at the seat of — with Joe Biden at the seat of power as the vice president of the United States.” Archer specifically shot down claims that Joe Biden had been bribed. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 8/6/23]
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
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