Welcome to this new daily update in the run-up to the US presidential election on November 3. With nineteen days to go, we take a look at the latest developments around the Hunter Biden tabloid story and explore the threats to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in his scarlet home state.
Conservatives at odds with social media
This is an overview of election news, which you can find on our front page every working day. The usual, more comprehensive edition of the Election Update – with more context, analysis and interesting resources – will continue to be released on Friday.
This edition will come a little later than you are used to, because of the live question session that we held on Thursday afternoon. You can do that here Looking back.
Republicans have reacted furiously to decisions by Facebook and Twitter, following a story from the tabloid newspaper The New York Post about alleged emails from Hunter Biden. You read yesterday exactly what that was about.
Facebook decided to slow down the distribution of the article to let independent fact-checkers look at it. Twitter blocked links to the piece and put some users on hold to force them to remove it. Among them was White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany. She complained to presenter Sean Hannity Fox News.
President Donald Trump described the newspaper’s story as the “smoking gunwho proves that his opponent Joe Biden was guilty of corruption. He condemned the removal of the story by Twitter and Facebook (which they did not, by the way) and threatened to scrap a law that gives companies wide-ranging authority over the content of their platform.
Twitter-chef Jack Dorsey let us know Wednesdayn regret the course of events: the links should not have been blocked without further explanation as to why. Nevertheless, the account of Trump’s campaign team was briefly locked after a video was posted there in which Biden was denounced as a liar. That video just returned after the ban ended.
The origin of the revelations from The New York Post is difficult to control. The newspaper from the stable of right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch (also owner of Fox News) only printed screenshots of the mails, so metadata about the sender or the time of sending, for example, cannot be seen.
The article contains two pertinent allegations: that Joe Biden lied when he said he never spoke to his son about his business adventures in Ukraine, and that Hunter Biden allegedly arranged a meeting between Joe and an adviser from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. The newspaper has not yet provided evidence for the initial charge and Biden’s campaign team states that the offending meeting never took place.
Chief Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett withstood a third Senate hearing on Wednesday and will face the last on Thursday. The most striking moment on Wednesday was actually not about her, but about Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
That seemed to suggest that Barrett would not change ‘Obamacare’ – the subject of the three-day marathon sessions. It was widely seen as an attempt to placate voters in Graham’s home state of South Carolina. The senator is chased there by his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.