• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Some Notes on the Hunter Biden Child Sex Abuse Smear

From a New York Magazine long-read by Andrew Rice and Olivia Nuzzi about the Hunter Biden laptop story, referring to the activities of Steve Bannon’s associates Jack Maxey and Rudy Giuliani:

[Jack] Maxey tried to turn up the volume, describing in a public speech an allegedly indecent photo of a teenage girl that he had seen on the computer. At the time the original laptop stories were published, Giuliani had advanced a similar claim, driving down to Delaware to urge the local police to investigate whether one of the photos on the laptop amounted to child pornography. The Delaware authorities showed no interest, and others who examined the laptop suggested a more innocent explanation: The photo belonged to a teenage Biden family member whose photo roll had been backed up on the laptop. Still, the insinuation, which resonated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, seeped into the cultural groundwater.

The article also includes interview material with John Paul Mac Isaac, the computer repair man who says that Biden’s laptop had been brought to his shop:

As much as he disapproved of Hunter, he added, his sense of honor compelled him to say that the child-porn rumors were untrue and that some widely circulated images attributed to the laptop were phony.

Mac Isaac also said that the FBI seemed to have been primarily interested in the possibility of evidence of sexual offences, from which we can reasonably infer that no evidence was subsequently discovered.

Rice and Nuzzi’s article is extensive, but the above is an angle that has been explored in more detail in pieces by Dan Friedman for Mother Jones. In April, Friedman recalled how false claims about the laptop were promoted by another Bannon associate, Guo Wengui, and like the New York Magazine authors he notes the affinity with QAnon:

On September 25, 2020, Wang Dinggang—who at the time was a Guo ally with a YouTube channel called Lude Media that was featured on GTV—announced, falsely, that Chinese sources had sent US officials “three hard disks” of material related to Hunter Biden. That was the first public indication that Trump allies had obtained Hunter Biden’s private material.

…While he orchestrated the publication of the Hunter Biden material, Guo encouraged supporters to make a false, vile claim. He instructed them to say the laptop included videos that showed Hunter Biden having sex with underage Chinese girls, according to messages he sent and people who communicated with him. Guo also asserted, baselessly, that the Chinese government had created or obtained the compromising videos and images and used them to blackmail the Bidens… These lies dovetailed with the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that many prominent Democrats are pedophiles and that Trump was working to stop them.

In a follow-up article published in July, Friedman further notes:

In that video and subsequent rants, Wang falsely asserted that the material included videos showing sexual abuse of children. Those claims were repeated on another Guo site, GNews; by other right-wing publications and figuresby Giuliani; and after the election by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Friedman’s July article includes references to leaked audio in which Bannon appears to express approval of promoting false claims in order to increase the news value of the story:

“We hammered this guy every day for 10 days with the worst pictures in the world, drug addict, taking money from CCP,” Bannon said. “No response. Nothing. And the negatives just keep going up.”

…“That’s why when people tell me, ‘Lude’s stuff’s getting crazy,’ I go, ‘Not crazy enough,’” Bannon said, drawing laughter from others in the meeting.

As quoted by Rice and Nuzzi, Bannon now says “A lot of stuff I do, I don’t feel great about… But we’re in a war”. However, it looks to me that in their greed to hype potentially damaging disclosures about Hunter Biden’s business dealings into something devastating for Joe Biden, Giuliani and Bannon botched their own scoop and destroyed the credibility of the whole story – an outcome that is now being framed as the mainstream media and intelligence services working together to suppress a scandal.

The early involvement of Guo in promoting stories about Hunter Biden was also noted at the time by ABC News in Australia, in a story focusing on two Chinese dissidents living in Brisbane and New York who had previously had dealings with Guo and then been targeted after falling out with him.

Guo has also been involved with spreading Covid conspiracy theories: his “Rule of Law Society” and “Rule of Law Foundation” published Li-Meng Yan’s claim that the the coronavirus was obviously a manufactured hybrid bioweapon, and there is a striking photo of Lude posing with Giuliani, with Bannon in the background and Yan’s reflection caught in a mirror. Yan has since fallen out with Guo.

Excursus

The sexual offences smear against Hunter Biden does not appear to feature in My Son Hunter, a new movie produced by Breitbart that has not been well received by critics. The film has been widely noted in British media due to the involvement of actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox in the role of Hunter Biden. The story is by Phelim McAleer and the screenplay is by Brian Godawa, author of self-described “Biblical novels” such as a series called Chronicles of the Nephilim, as well as a book called End Times Bible Prophecy.