The title of this post is a paraphrase of what “TheIntercept’s” Glenn Greenwald pronounces in a Twitter thread “one of the clearest and most important sentences you’ll read, showing how US media really works.” The original sentence, which appears in a Washington Post op-ed by Thomas Rid, author of “Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare,” reads, “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.”
Elsewhere in the piece, Rid tries to rationalize giving Biden the benefit of doubt:
[I]n the likely continued absence of certainty either way, the Biden leaks deserve the full potential-disinformation treatment. This means three concrete things. First, every individual little fact — every email, every text, every photo — must be independently verified when data is surfaced in such a suspicious way, not just one piece of information. Genuine photos, for example, could be there simply to add credibility to forged emails surfaced along with the photos — shielding a few forgeries with genuine content would be a time-tested active measures tactic.
Second, the absence of a denial by the Biden campaign or Hunter himself should not be treated as a tacit admission of authenticity. Mixing facts with forgeries has another time-tested effect: It sets a trap for the victim. If Hunter or the Biden campaign started selectively denying pieces of the reporting ostensibly from the laptop, they would give oxygen to the operation, extend its life-cycle and get entangled in a losing battle about discussing what’s fact and what’s not. …
Interestingly, neither Rid nor the Post, which published his op-ed, were quite as interested in doing their due diligence during the Mueller investigation.
Which Candidate Do You Support in the Republican Primaries?
Did the Russian government invent the Ukraine-did-it narrative? — Almost certainly no. The timeline doesn’t support this interpretation. See especially Roger Stone in September 2016. Details: https://t.co/WiMVHUVmlm
— Thomas Rid (@RidT) December 20, 2019
The Post’s stance on the legitimacy of the laptop, which has been one of flat denial, flies in the face of the advice in Rid’s title: “Insisting that the Hunter Biden laptop is fake is a trap. So is insisting that it’s real.”
The entire episode is yet another sad reminder of how far the media have fallen in the modern era.