Matt Taibbi, Elon Musk, Twitter Files
Matt Taibbi (left); Elon Musk. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Twitter / Wikimedia, OccupyTVNY / Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0), Tesla Owners Club Belgium / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0), and Twitter

Musk-do fact check on Hunter Biden pics scandal

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At WhoWhatWhy, one of our beefs is how many “big” or at least controversial stories never seem to get resolved.  

First, there are the straight-out “mystery!”/”no mystery!” stories like the weird deaths of Jeffrey Epstein and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Legacy media’s default is generally to accept whatever the authorities say and inquire no further. I started WhoWhatWhy because I was frustrated that the media, including even the best journalists, were too often abdicating the important role of fearlessly digging further. 

There are many such stories, and typically the public divides into two camps as to whether there is “something there” or “nothing there.” Often, this comes down to pure politics — the purely partisan eye of the beholder. 

And so it is with Hunter Biden. The right-wing media and its agitators have for months — even years — made this alleged cover-up into the Watergate scandal of our time. 

To be fair, legacy news organizations, typically accused by the Right of being in the tank for Democrats, have in fact done some good reporting, up to a point, on Biden, his business dealings, and his laptop. 

However, for a variety of reasons, the issue still remains somewhat murky, at least enough for the right-wing megaphone set to keep it alive. 

Here at WhoWhatWhy, we cannot claim to have the resources or connections necessary to move every story beyond what large news outfits can. But we can always provide, at minimum, some useful context and clarity. 

We’ll be endeavoring to do that in 2023. 

To start off, I want to acknowledge a recent piece from the magazine Mother Jones. It provides new information on the recent Hunter Biden brouhaha. 

As you may have heard, Elon Musk — through his new relationship with controversial, high-profile journalist Matt Taibbi — is alleging that the previous Twitter ownership and management censored tweets about Hunter Biden as a favor to his father and the Democratic leadership. 

Musk and Taibbi made hay out of what they characterized as an “abuse” by Twitter’s old management. This then got widely promoted by the media, especially the right-wing media. 

But actually, the content that Twitter censored was not about politics. It was salacious and unverified content that in no case would anyone want repeated about them in a public forum like Twitter. And so it violated Twitter’s standards — and was accordingly blocked. Specifically: pictures of Hunter Biden facing a mirror with his penis exposed, and multiple photos and videos showing Hunter having sex and using drugs.  

Simply put, pre-Musk Twitter standards prevented the platform from being used to distribute personal sexual material about an individual, akin to “revenge porn.” 

Where the Pictures Came From

I found the MoJo article — like many, perhaps most, articles on Hunter Biden — fairly complicated, with many different strands, and a little hard to follow. 

Therefore, I’d like to offer my contribution to public awareness by restating what I saw there and what seem to be the main takeaways. 

The infamous Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, and a little-known Chinese tycoon who had been banished by the regime in Beijing seem to have conspired to hype the salacious material about Biden’s son and to get it talked about right before the 2020 election. Twitter, though, properly refused to allow its platform to be used for that. 

That’s the main story. The ruthless and unprincipled political right that has increasingly taken over this country will stop at nothing to ruin others. And a man like Musk, with his own tawdry record on the sexual front, has the audacity to try to build his own Twitter legitimacy by claiming to expose, via Taibbi, “Biden’s improper influence” on the previous Twitter regime.

Bottom line: Before Musk, Twitter tried to do its job. Now, Musk, in tandem with Taibbi — and maybe Bannon and other lovely people — are trying to trick the clueless Fox masses with yet another misleading meme that can circulate and further enrage these oxygen-deprived folks. 

I can think of a few good follow-up stories: 

  • Learn more about the Chinese tycoon and his organization — and what other levers they may have their hands on.
  • Learn more about any possible coordination between Bannon, the tycoon, and the Republicans to generate an “October surprise” against Biden. 
  • Learn more about Musk’s true intentions and how he fits into the increasingly troubled “truth environment.” 

To be continued. 


  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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