Hunter Biden takes fight to Fox News threatening to sue over phoney ‘trial’ and hacked photos coverage

President’s son argues right-wing network has sensationalised coverage of his legal troubles

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 01 May 2024 14:39 BST
Why has Hunter Biden been indicted?

Hunter Biden’s attorneys anticipate an “imminent” lawsuit against Fox News and its associated streaming service Fox Nation and have requested that top personalities at the network preserve documents.

Attorneys for the president’s son cited statements made by Fox personalities including Jessie Watters and Maria Bartiromo in a lengthy letter sent to Fox attorneys last week and shared with The Independent on Monday. The letter demands immediate corrections to coverage of the allegations of Mr Biden’s overseas business dealings and the charge by Republicans that Hunter Biden was involved in an influence-trading scheme with the knowledge or direction of his father.

Those allegations spurred the launch of the House GOP’s impeachment inquiry, which has stalled due to a lack of testimony from witnesses or other evidence proving that President Joe Biden ever knew about his son’s business dealings.

The letter from Hunter Biden’s attorney also argues that the network has used his image outside of the bounds of protected journalistic inquiry. In particular, it cites a fictionalised mock trial put on by the Fox streaming service, Fox Nation, called The Trial of Hunter Biden. The broadcast involved a fake courtroom set complete with a mock judge, jury, prosecution and defence attorneys.

The full list of Fox personalities directed to preserve their communications includes: Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Dana Perino, Miranda Devine, Laura Ingraham, and Maria Bartiromo. The letter also names the “BLT Team” — named after the pricy Capitol-area eatery BLT Steak — where strategy meetings concerning the network’s coverage of Hunter Biden supposedly took place.

Fox News responsded to the letter from Tina Glandian in a statement provided to The Independent on Tuesday.

“Hunter Biden’s lawyers have belatedly chosen to publicly attack Fox News’ constitutionally protected coverage regarding their client. Mr. Biden is a public figure who has been the subject of investigations by both the Department of Justice and Congress, has been indicted by two different US Attorney’s Offices in California and Delaware, and has admitted to multiple incidents of wrongdoing. Consistent with the First Amendment, Fox News has accurately covered these highly publicized events as well as the subsequent indictment of an FBI informant who was the source of certain claims made about Mr. Biden.”

Ms Glandian’s letter also accused Fox of minimising the news of the criminal indictment of Alexander Smirnov, a key source for the allegations against Hunter Biden, for allegedly lying to the FBI about those very allegations.

“For the last five years, Fox News has relentlessly attacked Hunter Biden and made him a caricature in order to boost ratings and for its financial gain. The recent indictment of FBI informant Smirnov has exposed the conspiracy of disinformation that has been fueled by Fox, enabled by their paid agents, and monetized by the Fox enterprise,” Hunter Biden’s attorneys Mark Geragos, Bryan Freeman and Tina Glandian in a joint statement.

“We plan on holding them accountable.”

Later on Tuesday, Mr Biden’s legal team released a second statement, demanding the retraction of the statement Fox provided to The Independent and other outlets.

“Predictably, Fox News has once again doubled down on its efforts to mislead the public,” said the attorneys. “In its statement today, Fox falsely states that Hunter Biden was the subject of an investigation by Congress, which mischaracterizes the plain facts of his litigation, and intentionally avoids telling their audience that their attacks on Hunter were “based” on an informant who lied. We demand that Fox immediately retract and correct today’s statement, which is the latest example of its relentless attack on Hunter Biden in complete disregard for the truth.”

The threat of a lawsuit against the Fox network comes after the channel’s bosses settled a major defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems in the wake of the 2020 election. In that case, numerous Fox personalities including ex-star Tucker Carlson were accused of recklessly spreading verifiably false conspiracies about the company’s voting machines and software used in 2020, with top Fox boss Rupert Murdoch admitting that the hosts did so for ratings.

Fox ended up agreeing to a historic $787m settlement in the Dominion case, and suffered a blow to its reputation in journalism circles as a result of the lawsuit. Of particular concern to many reporters was the revealed efforts by Carlson to go after straight-news reporters at the company over their efforts to push back against falsehoods regarding the election.

Hunter Biden remains separately charged with federal tax crimes as well as an allegation that he lied about his history of drug use on an application for the purchase of a firearm.

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