Internal Twitter documents show a billionaire-backed think tank called Aspen Digital collaborated with social media companies and journalists to minimize news coverage of Hunter Biden’s emails before the 2020 election.
According to documents published this week by independent reporter Michael Shellenberger, Aspen Digital, an arm of the liberal Aspen Institute, gathered social media executives, journalists, and academics in Sept. 2020 to create a coverage strategy for a “hack and dump” of Hunter Biden’s emails.
30. Efforts continued to influence Twitter's Yoel Roth.
In Sept 2020, Roth participated in an Aspen Institute “tabletop exercise” on a potential "Hack-and-Dump" operation relating to Hunter Biden
The goal was to shape how the media covered it — and how social media carried it pic.twitter.com/lQSorONUSh
— Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 19, 2022
Biden’s foreign business dealings were revealed in emails from his abandoned laptop a month after the “tabletop exercise.” There’s no evidence that the emails were hacked, but many attendees downplayed or censored the story.
Both Twitter and Facebook, which were represented at the exercise, suppressed the New York Post article detailing the laptop’s contents. CNN, and the Daily Beast, all represented by journalists or newsroom executives, either criticized or ignored the report.
Aspen organizers may have been trying to persuade media organizations to kill damaging stories about Hunter Biden. Still, their involvement should also raise concerns of Democrat involvement in media censorship, primarily as bigwigs at BigTech have been known to contribute to Democratic campaigns and agendas.
In 2020, Google co-founder Eric Schmidt contributed more than $2 million to Biden’s Future Forward campaign. Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, donated $100,000 to Biden in 2020 and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic committees. The founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, has contributed to Democratic campaigns and to an anti-Donald Trump super PAC. A total of over $2 million was donated to Aspen Digital in 2020, in addition to grants from the Ford Foundation and Hewlett Foundation.
Organizers at Aspen urged reporters to be skeptical about any explosive stories about Hunter Biden. An event organizer said, “a successful response to a hack and leak requires news organizations to blend one thing they’re good at — skepticism — and one thing they’re not — careful, slow deliberation.”
“Early cooperation among newsrooms turns out to be key,” said Aspen organizer Garrett Graff. He suggested that reporters “check with other news organizations” before reporting on Hunter Biden’s emails. He told news outlets should talk to “intelligence agencies and law enforcement” as well.
Aspen participants largely followed the guidance of the think tank company after the New York Post story.