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Investigation: For Washington Post’s Feared ‘Pinocchio’ Fact Checker, Forthrightness Dies in ‘Updates’ to Biden-Burisma Story

By Paul Sperry

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

Investigation by Paul Sperry originally published by RealClearInvestigations and RealClearWire.

For the second time in three years, the Washington Post has quietly “updated” one of the most consequential fact checks in the history of American politics – its October 2020 article undercutting reports that Hunter Biden arranged a dinner meeting between one of his foreign business clients and his father, who was then vice president of the United States.

The original article by the Washington Post’s chief fact checker, Glenn Kessler, was published the same day as the New York Post’s pre-election scoop revealing that Joe Biden had attended a 2015 dinner with a top executive of a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma, which was paying his son $83,000 per month. Kessler’s fact-check involved interviews with a host of Biden aides who vehemently disputed the vice president’s attendance at the dinner and advanced the theory that the source of the information – a laptop Hunter had abandoned at a Delaware repair shop – was untrustworthy and possibly a Russian plant.

That conspiracy theory was quickly embraced by 51 former intelligence officials, who signed an open letter dismissing the New York Post’s scoop as having “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” This letter and the Washington Post fact check were used by the Biden campaign, other media outlets, and social media platforms to discredit the information contained on the laptop in the final days of the campaign. The article, Kessler would later boast, was “one of the most read articles in our 13-year history” of the fact-checking feature.

But Kessler’s fact check has not aged well. Just last week Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Devon Archer, testified before Congress that the article was “not correct reporting.” Instead of retracting the article – as the Post did with some of its debunked Russiagate coverage – or running a straightforward correction, the paper has appended a series of “updates” to its reporting.

“The Washington Post and other media have tried to squelch the scandal of Joe Biden potentially using his high office to enrich himself and his family,” said a congressional investigator for a GOP-led committee. “Almost nobody is fact-checking these biased fact checkers, and they carry a lot of weight and authority.”

In his original article, “Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop: An explainer,” Kessler took the Biden camp’s word that the then-vice president never met senior Burisma official Vadym Pozharskyi on April 16, 2015, and didn’t even attend the dinner in question at a Georgetown restaurant. Kessler also expressed open doubts about the authenticity of the laptop. Kessler wrote that the New York Post stories “purportedly” came from a Hunter Biden laptop “supposedly” left at a repair shop. Quoting an author of a book on disinformation, Kessler also questioned the authenticity of the emails on the laptop. The specific email in question – the New York Post called it a “smoking gun” – was an April 17 message from Pozharskyi thanking Hunter Biden for the “opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.”

“Officials who worked for Biden at the time told The Fact Checker that no such meeting took place,” Kessler asserted, noting that it was not listed on the former vice president’s schedule and that it was unlikely Biden even went to the restaurant.

After the election, with Biden in office, and as more details about the dinner trickled in over the next several months, the Washington Post on June 7, 2021, appended Kessler’s story with a note that the article had been ”updated.” It linked to a revised version, which carried the headline, “Hunter Biden’s laptop: The April 16, 2015, dinner.”

Read the entire investigation here.
Paul Sperry is an investigative reporter for RealClearInvestigations. He is also a longtime media fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Sperry was previously the Washington bureau chief for Investor’s Business Daily, and his work has appeared in the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Houston Chronicle, among other major publications.

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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