A hallmark of American campaigns, the “October Surprise” is news that could change the outcome in the month following the election. This is what happened with the emails revealed by WikiLeaks in 2016, showing things like a speech by Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs.
The New York Times, Twitter and others echoed, the revelations widened, leading to the opening of an investigation by the FBI. Donald Trump was elected.
Four years later, the NYT, Twitter and others acted to discredit and deny the repercussions of the new October surprise, a New York Post report based on emails from Joe’s son Hunter Biden.
They showed he introduced his father to a Ukrainian executive he worked for, months before “Superior Biden pressured the Ukrainian authorities to dismiss a prosecutor investigating the company.”
Rejected by other media and with repercussions blocked on social media, the news was lost and Biden was elected.
So far, these are well-known stories that help understand why the new Democratic government is struggling to keep Julian Assange jailed – and why platforms are keeping Trump in digital exile.
What is less known is that the surprise of October 2020 mobilized another newspaper, the Pingguo Ribao of Hong Kong or Apple Daily. In addition to Ukraine, there was business in China.
Jimmy Lai’s tabloid investigated for months Hunter Biden’s activities in the country, where he was until last year a partner and a member of the board of directors of the BHR Partners fund, controlled by the Bank of China.
The result was a 64-page dossier, which ended up in the campaign, and two reports in the Apple Daily. The story was revealed in October by NBC, noting that the report was signed by a “security analyst” who did not exist.
According to the network’s website, “The Apple Daily confirmed that he had worked on the document,” as well as an American scholar based in Asia, Christopher Balding, who said he was hired by the newspaper.
In addition to the two reports, the material was distributed by vehicles such as the War Room podcast, by former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and the New York newspaper The Epoch Times, by the far-right religious organization Falun Gong, and now banned in China.
But that parallel October surprise also ended at the hurdle raised by NYT, Twitter and others, little helping Trump – whose election Lai publicly defended.
Faced with the tabloid shutdown this week, under pressure from the Chinese government, now President Joe Biden has not quoted Lai, imprisoned since last year, but has defended his former enemy:
“The Apple Daily, an indispensable stronghold of independent journalism in Hong Kong, is sold out. Journalists tell the truth, hold leaders to account and ensure that information flows freely. The act of journalism is not a crime.
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