Fox News Quietly Deletes Hunter Biden ‘Mock Trial’ Series


Fox News appears to be taking Hunter Biden’s lawsuit threat quite seriously.

The network has quietly pulled down its six-part “mock trial” series from its digital streaming service Fox Nation after lawyers for the presidential scion warned the network of their intention to sue for defamation.

Besides quietly taking down The Trial of Hunter Biden from its streamer, the network also deleted a promotional video promising Fox News viewers an “inside look” at the “mock trial,” which was presided over by former reality-TV star Judge Joe Brown.

The scrubbing of the series, which debuted in October 2022, directly complies with the demand from Biden’s legal team—powerhouse celebrity law firm Geragos & Geragos—to delete the content immediately.

A Fox News spokesperson confirmed in a statement to The Daily Beast that the special had been removed from the service following the complaint. “This program was produced in and has been available since 2022. We are reviewing the concerns that have just been raised and—out of an abundance of caution in the interim—have taken it down,” the statement read.

In a detailed 14-page letter sent to Fox Corporation last week, the Biden legal team accused the right-wing network of engaging in a multi-year campaign to defame the president’s son in order to boost ratings and profits. The letter also let Fox News know that Biden intends to sue the network for defamation.

“While routinely defaming and disparaging Mr. Biden, FOX has simultaneously sought to profit by the unlawful exploitation of Mr. Biden’s image, name, and likeness for commercial purposes and reprehensible dissemination of salacious photographs depicting Mr. Biden,” the letter notes.

Elsewhere the letter runs down the obsessive coverage the network has devoted to Biden since his father began his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden’s lawyers blast the hundreds of articles and on-air segments Fox News has run on a now-discredited FBI informant’s bribery allegations.

According to liberal watchdog Media Matters, Fox News has mentioned Hunter Biden on its airwaves more than 13,000 times since the beginning of last year. That coverage has largely collapsed in recent weeks, however, as the GOP-lead impeachment inquiry has stumbled.

“For the last five years, Fox News has relentlessly attacked Hunter Biden and made him a caricature in order to boost ratings and for its financial gain,” Biden’s legal team told The Daily Beast. “The recent indictment of FBI informant [Alexander] Smirnov has exposed the conspiracy of disinformation that has been fueled by Fox, enabled by their paid agents and monetized by the Fox enterprise. We plan on holding them accountable.”

Additionally, the letter takes specific aim at the mock trial series and the network’s willingness to disseminate and exploit salacious images of Biden retrieved from the infamous laptop, claiming these actions violate “revenge porn” laws and show “blatant copyright infringement.”

Noting how Fox News described the miniseries as “a riveting look at the unresolved legal situation of President Joe Biden’s son,” the letter pointed out that the network promoted the special as “how a possible Hunter Biden trial might look.” It further stated that at the time the letter was sent to Fox, the series was still widely advertised and available on Fox Nation and other streaming services.

At the time of the series premiere in October 2022, Judge Brown told Fox & Friends that “some of the things that are on that laptop are really disturbing” and the “way we configured it actually was a mock proceeding to determine if there was probable cause to believe that further investigation should occur.”

Brown also compared Donald Trump’s legal woes to that of Hunter Biden, saying it appears Democrats and Republicans “don’t live in the same country” while grousing about a so-called two tiers of justice.

“So it looks like the public needs to encourage its system to get into this,” Brown added about the special. “We don’t want mob justice, but sometimes the collective needs to bring pressure to at least look at things because from what we were looking at on that laptop, something’s way wrong here. Way wrong.”

Biden’s attorneys accuse Fox of seeking to “commercialize” Biden’s “personality through a form of treatment distinct from the dissemination of news or information,” adding that the mini-series is “fictionalized and based on a nonexistent criminal case.” Indeed, the mock trial centers on violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and bribery—neither of which Biden has been charged with.

“It was made for the purpose of trade and advertising, and merely exploits Mr. Biden’s name, image, and likeness for FOX’s commercial benefit. Thus, FOX is not protected by the newsworthiness exception to the right of privacy/publicity statutes,” the letter states.

The presidential scion’s lawyers also note that the so-called “evidence” presented throughout the special are actual emails and photographs retrieved from his computer, including “nonconsensual intimate images” of Biden.

“Additionally, the mock trial features individuals acting as themselves as witnesses testifying on behalf of the prosecution including John Paul Mac Isaac—the Delaware shop owner who obtained a laptop which he claims Mr. Biden dropped off at his repair shop—and Miranda Devine, a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor who authored the book Laptop from Hell: Hunter Biden, Big Tech, and the Dirty Secrets the President Tried to Hide,” the letter insists.

“While using certain true information, the series intentionally manipulates the facts, distorts

the truth, narrates happenings out of context, and invents dialogue intended to entertain. Thus, the viewer of the series cannot decipher what is fact and what is fiction, which is highly damaging to Mr. Biden,” the letter adds.

The Biden threat further demands that Fox “immediately remove ‘The Trial of Hunter Biden’ from any and all streaming platforms including Fox Nation” and advise other third-party streaming services to take it down.

“FOX’s failure to expeditiously comply with the removal demands will subject FOX to significant liability for its continued and blatant invasion of Mr. Biden’s rights,” the letter adds. “However, Mr. Biden’s removal demand is not a waiver of, or prejudice to, any of his rights, remedies, or claims at law or in equity arising from FOX’s unlawful commercial exploitation of his image, name, and likeness.”

The day after Biden’s lawsuit threat was first reported, Fox News released a statement defending its coverage of the presidential son and the allegations against him. It also seemed to push back against his demands that the network add editor’s notes to articles “informing readers of the indictment” of the FBI informant and have several anchors read on-air statements.

“Hunter Biden’s lawyers have belatedly chosen to publicly attack Fox News’ constitutionally protected coverage regarding their client. Mr. Biden is a public figure who has been the subject of investigations by both the Department of Justice and Congress, has been indicted by two different US Attorney’s Offices in California and Delaware, and has admitted to multiple incidents of wrongdoing,” a Fox News spokesperson said. “Consistent with the First Amendment, Fox News has accurately covered these highly publicized events as well as the subsequent indictment of an FBI informant who was the source of certain claims made about Mr. Biden.”

That statement, however, did not mention the letter’s claims about the mock trial series’ “nonconsensual disclosure of sexually explicit images and videos” and its possible violation of “revenge porn laws.

On Tuesday morning, search engine links to The Trial of Hunter Biden either led to a page reading “this episode is not available right now” or a general landing page providing Fox Nation customers with other viewing options. Additional searches on the streaming service also fail to pull up the series.

A promotional video on Fox News’ digital website about Brown’s appearance on Fox & Friends has also been removed and replaced with a 404 page saying, “Something has gone wrong.”

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the digital series. The Daily Beast has reached out to Biden’s lawyers for comment.



Source link

Leave a Comment