Billionaire Elon Musk, who says his offer to purchase Twitter is based on his desire to protect free speech, tweeted an unfounded accusation about NBC News’ coverage of Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. Musk tweeted on May 2 that NBC News “covered up” the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. It was his response to remarks by Mehdi Hasan, an NBC News show host who called Musk a “petulant & not-so-bright billionaire” and said Musk would hand over Twitter to the far-right.
In 2020, NBC News reported that its staff was denied access to verify the authenticity of documents from the laptop thought to belong to Hunter Biden. According to NBC News, the lack of in-depth reporting on the laptop in 2020 was due to people in Trump’s circle attempting to limit access to the information. That is not the same as concealing the truth. Musk’s tweet gives the impression that NBC News had all relevant information but chose not to disclose it, which is not the case.
The laptop saga began in October 2020, when the New York Post reported that a computer that appeared to belong to Hunter Biden had been dropped off at a Delaware repair shop in 2019 and was shared with Rudy Giuliani, at that time the personal attorney to then-President Donald Trump. When the New York Post story was published, other news outlets were unable to verify the laptop’s existence or contents. NBC News reported in October 2020 that the reason it wasn’t providing in-depth coverage of the laptop story was simple: “Most mainstream news organizations, including NBC News, have not been granted access to the documents (from the laptop). NBC News asked by email, text, phone call and certified mail, and was ultimately denied.”
Says New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country doesn’t have to deal with the “rage of older white men” because “we’ve never allowed Rupert Murdoch to set up a media outlet here. If those things happen, Hasan said, “we may look back on this … as a pivotal moment, when a petulant & not-so-bright billionaire casually bought one of the most influential messaging machines & just handed it to the far-right,” referencing Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
At that time, NBC News said its reporters were not given the kind of access that would have allowed them to verify the authenticity of the documents from the laptop. In March 2022, the New York Times and Washington Post both reported that emails from the laptop had been authenticated. Following those stories, NBC News also reported on new developments in a federal investigation of Hunter Biden, which involves documents from his laptop. But Musk did not include any of that context when tweeting a response to the remarks from NBC’s Hasan. Hasan, in the clip that Musk reacted to, said that a pro-QAnon, pro-neo-Nazi faction of the Republican Party is “poised to expand dramatically” after the 2022 midterm elections, and Trump also potentially could be re-elected president in 2024.