President Joe Biden contradicted the public assessment of U.S. intelligence and its allies, essentially letting China off the hook for its role in a months-long series of cyberattacks against sensitive industries. Yet the media, which threw a feeding frenzy whenever an anonymous intelligence source disputed President Donald Trump, have had nothing to say about the 46th president’s latest faux pas.
In January, hackers associated with China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) reportedly launched a cyberespionage attack targeting at least 30,000 organizations. In addition to seeking vital information for defense-related industries, they shook down private-sector firms by using ransomware. (The Chinese Communist Party denies any role in the attack; NPR helpfully noted that China leveled countercharges against the U.S. government.)
This week, the administration condemned Beijing for the attack, but unlike with Russia’s SolarWinds hacking, Biden did not impose sanctions against China. On Monday, a reporter asked President Biden why he’s “naming and shaming China” without taking concrete action. “What is your understanding of the biggest difference between what [China has] done versus what Russia has done in terms of cyber hacking?”
Biden replied, “Look, to the best of my knowledge — and I’m getting a report tomorrow morning on this, a detailed report — my understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russian government, is not doing this themselves, but are protecting those who are doing it and maybe even accommodating them being able to do it. That may be the difference.” (Emphasis added.)
Forget the fact that Biden’s statement is self-refuting: Biden said the difference is that they are doing the same thing. Notice that it contradicts his intelligence community’s conclusions — including an announcement his administration made the previous evening.
During a background media call with an unnamed “senior administration official,” a reporter asked whether U.S. intelligence could “specifically blame the Microsoft Exchange Server attack on these MSS-affiliated hackers.” The official replied that the government had “high confidence” that the attack took place “very much with the Ministry of State Security’s knowledge.”
Even as President Biden raised questions about China’s culpability, his secretary of State affirmed it. “The United States government, alongside our allies and partners, has formally confirmed that cyber actors affiliated with the MSS exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server in a massive cyber espionage operation,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday.
U.S. allies followed suit, as a series of highly coordinated statements rolled out from Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, NATO, and the European Union. (While EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell would only note the hacking was “conducted from the territory of China,” the UK’s intelligence agency charged with overseeing cybersecurity blamed the Microsoft Exchange hacking on a group of “Chinese state-backed actors” named HAFNIUM.
Yet President Biden still raised the possibility that China was not responsible and, thus, maybe should not suffer from U.S. sanctions. And while he said he would have more information by Tuesday, President Biden has yet to update his remarks — nor has he been asked to do so.
Compare the media’s lackadaisical treatment of a public dispute between the president and the intelligence assessment of the entire world vis-à-vis China with its laser-like focus on President Donald Trump’s long-running spat with often-anonymous U.S. intel officials. NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and nearly every other news outlet covered the allegations breathlessly. In 2019, Axios’ Shannon Vavra wrote a compilation titled “All the Times Trump’s intelligence officials contradicted him.” Time magazine in 2019 published a dire warning from anonymous intelligence agents that President Trump “is endangering American security with what they say is a stubborn disregard for their assessments.” And, of course, last May Business Insider triumphantly announced, “Intelligence officials and disease experts are shooting down Trump’s claim that the US has good reason to believe the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab.” CNN kept it up even after Trump left office.
But those assessments mostly involved a Republican and Russia. Now that a Democrat has muddied the waters regarding China, there has been — to this point — exactly one article on the topic: by Tom Rogan of The Washington Examiner.
Incredibly, some in the media twisted President Biden’s statement into its logical opposite in order to avoid criticizing him. Bloomberg News, founded by Biden’s 2020 Democratic primary rival Michael Bloomberg, claimed that “President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday that the investigation isn’t finished but that the Chinese government bears responsibility.”
Unlike Trump, President Biden did not make his statement standing a few inches away from a world leader moments after a summit. Biden was alone in front of the press. His comments raise disconcerting questions among Americans, who want both accurate information and competent government protection from foreign threats.
Is Biden receiving regular intelligence briefings? When President Trump opted to take his intelligence briefings verbally rather than in writing, The Washington Post warned that “could hamper his ability to respond to crises in the most effective manner.” (NPR even objected when President Trump announced he had not been briefed on “Russian bounties,” which turned out to be erroneous.) But this doesn’t appear to be a concern with President Biden, who graciously shares his access to the Presidential Daily Brief with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Is it possible that President Joe Biden is disregarding the intelligence to bend policy outcomes to his preferences? That was the subtext of every story about President Trump: He owes his fortune and his illegitimate election to the Kremlin and its subcontracted, Macedonian content farmers. “Trump’s businesses are full of dirty Russian money,” said The Washington Post. The fact that Hunter Biden has substantial business dealings with China, including some hammered out during then-Vice President Biden’s official junket to Beijing, seems curiously absent from the media’s non-coverage of this story.
This is just another example of the media’s blatant double standard, but one with weighty consequences for international relations and U.S. national security. The president’s actions pose serious questions that demand an answer. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to be asked for at least another three years.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.