The US could learn a thing or two about freedom of expression

The censorship of the Hunter Biden scandal should not be acceptable in a free democracy

The US could learn a thing or two about freedom of expression

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KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) – With President Donald Trump lagging behind Joe Biden in the polls, there has been much debate about whether he will spring an "October surprise" in an attempt to secure a second term.

I speculated a couple of weeks ago about the prospect of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan being one of the tricks he pulled out of his hat. There was also much speculation that his sudden bout of coronavirus, shortly after a disappointing performance in the first presidential debate, and rapid recovery may also have been a ruse to swing public opinion his way.

But if there has been an "October surprise" of any kind so far, it has come from a far less likely source of controversy: Hunter Biden.

Family scandals are not unknown in US politics, to say the very least. But if there was going to be a scandal to engulf this particular presidential race, most people would have assumed it would be a skeleton emerging from the Trump family's closet.

Instead, it is Biden’s son Hunter whose actions could well change the course of the presidential election.

The scandal came about after materials allegedly recovered from a broken laptop that was dropped off for repair and never reclaimed in Biden’s home state of Delaware were found to contain hugely damaging content.

There were sexually explicit messages and images of Hunter Biden, who has admitted drug addiction problems in the past, with a pipe. But it was the documents that showed alleged evidence of corruption, previously undisclosed links to China, and dodgy business dealings in Ukraine, which have really set the cat amongst the pigeons.

There is alleged evidence of Hunter arranging meetings between Joe Biden and a Ukrainian company called Burisma, which paid Hunter US$50,000 a month to sit on its board. Alleged emails from the company showed them asking Hunter to use his influence and thanked him for introducing them to his father.

Joe Biden is on record as saying he has “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

Further documents allegedly showed Hunter worked closely on investments in the U.S. with Kenes Rakishev, a Kazakh oligarch with close ties to Kazakhstan’s longtime kleptocratic leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, at a time when his father was Vice President and most other businesses would not go near Rakishev because of questions about the origin of his wealth.

And then there are the emails that allegedly show Hunter Biden pursuing a lucrative energy business deal in China and apparently securing Joe Biden a 10 percent equity in the deal — which Fox News reports was confirmed by an unknown source in the email chain.

These scandalous revelations might have been enough to bring a presidential candidate down in normal times. They might have changed the course of the election.

But these are not normal times, and while Biden’s ratings have taken a hit, he is still far ahead of Trump in most polls. There are a couple of reasons for this.

One is that for a lot of Americans, even an allegedly corrupt Joe Biden with links to China would be a better choice than Donald Trump. They will question the validity of the claims and attack the New York Post, the paper that published them.

The other is that a lot of Americans have either not read the stories or have seen them downplayed to such an extent by pro-Democrat media outlets that you would hardly know there is a scandal at all.

Take CNN, the widely respected U.S. news network that is unashamedly pro-Biden and anti-Trump. On the day that the New York Post published their stories, there was no mention of Hunter Biden in their coverage or their website, but the positive stories about Joe Biden continued to roll out.

This sort of bias is not unusual in mainstream media outlets in the U.S.

But the biggest scandal was on social media, where Twitter and Facebook actively censored the New York Post story, preventing U.S. citizens from being able to read it. Unable to verify the facts, they unilaterally declared it fake news and blocked it.

In a democratic nation like the U.S. where freedom of expression is protected in the Constitution, it truly is a national scandal.

Furthermore, the actions of the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and CNN only serves to underline that the claim Donald Trump has been making throughout his time as president: that many of the mainstream media and social media outlets are biased against him.

In a democracy like the United States, it is up to the voters to decide who to elect as president. But they should be able to do so in possession of all the facts about the candidates.

It is not the role of social media sites to determine what we can and cannot know about our elected officials. That is the road that leads to totalitarianismthe kind we see every day in China.

If you are an American citizen and will be voting in the presidential election, read the New York Post reports. Then you can decide for yourself.

But you have as much of a right to know the truth about Joe Biden as you do Donald Trump, and you should not let big tech and mainstream media companies dictate what you can and cannot know.

Updated : 2020-12-02 21:26 GMT+08:00