The story of Hunter Biden and the diminishing returns to disinformation

The story of Hunter Biden and the diminishing returns to disinformation

To work, dumps of hacked email need a juicy target and credulous institutions. This one had neither

Donald trump’s rally in Martinsburg—his third of the day in Pennsylvania—felt less like a political gathering than a greatest-hits concert of an ageing rocker. Vendors selling t-shirts, buttons and banners lined the streets leading to the airstrip. The talent trotted out all the golden oldies: “Crooked Hillary”, “They’ll confiscate your guns”, “Mexico is paying for the wall”, and abundant derision of a rival band (“Joe Biden and the Democrat socialists”).

As at many such events, the crowd liked his old stuff better than the new. The mention of Mrs Clinton prompted “Lock her up” chants from the crowd. They booed dutifully when Mr Trump mentioned his latest target, Hunter Biden, his rival’s troubled son. But allegations concerning the younger Mr Biden seem not to have shifted the race in Mr Trump’s favour as those regarding Mrs Clinton did four years ago. The target is less enticing, and American institutions more prepared.

It helps that the allegations concern not the candidate himself, but his son. Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, gave a cache of emails to the New York Post, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch. They seem to show Hunter exploring a Chinese investment deal in 2017 that included a 10% equity stake “held by h for the Big Guy”. One of Hunter’s former business partners, Tony Bobulinski, stated that “the Big Guy” was the elder Mr Biden, who was aware of his son’s activities.