Aspen Institute conducted ‘pre-bunk’ of Hunter Biden laptop story in June 2020

Independent journalist Michael Shellenberger, who has been reporting on the “Twitter Files,” joined Spotify podcaster Joe Rogan last week to discuss his work on the series and what they had discovered about the infiltration of social media platforms by U.S. intelligence agencies.

One of the most illuminating parts of their discussion involved a June 2020 “tabletop exercise” conducted by the Aspen Institute, a progressive nonprofit whose stated mission is the realization of “a free, just, and equitable society.” The organization is funded by donors such as the Carnegie Corporation, the Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and yes, your tax dollars. 

According to Shellenberger, the exercise involved role-playing how to cope with a Russian “hack and leak” operation around Hunter Biden. The timing is especially interesting considering that six months before, John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of the Wilmington, Delaware, computer repair shop where Biden had dropped off his laptop in April 2019, had handed it over to the FBI. 

“Aspen is funded by the U.S. government … We’re talking about U.S. government-funded organizations,” Shellenberger pointed out.

He told Rogan, “[T]he thing that really freaks me out was this thing that Aspen Institute had. They called it a ‘tabletop exercise’ but it was actually a Zoom call, to role-play how to deal with a Russian hack and leak around Hunter Biden, in like June 2020, months before Rudy Giuliani gives the laptop to the New York Post. Why in the hell is the Aspen Institute holding a tabletop exercise to pre-bunk? Basically, they are training, or brainwashing, all these journalists. You’ve got CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, Wikimedia Foundation, the networks, all of the social media companies, coming together to say if something is leaked, we should not cover it in the way that journalists have traditionally covered it.”

We learned last August that the FBI had cautioned Facebook executives about the potential for a Russian “hack and dump” campaign ahead of the 2020 election. During a lengthy and revealing interview with Joe Rogan, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted Facebook had received a warning from the FBI about potential Russian misinformation. 

Zuckerberg told Rogan, “The FBI, I think, basically came to us, some folks on our team, and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on a notice; basically, there’s about to be some kind of a dump that is similar to that, so just be vigilant.’” 

This warning came shortly before the New York Post broke its bombshell story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in October 2020.

But Shellenberger’s revelation that the Aspen Institute had deliberately convened a group of media influencers to set the framework for a disinformation campaign of their own – one designed to alter the outcome of a U.S. presidential election –  takes this story to an entirely new level.

Shellenberger disclosed a second startling discovery, this one involving a 2020 report from Stanford University that said, “reporters should no longer follow the ‘Pentagon Papers’ principle.”

He explained, “Well the Pentagon Papers is this famous episode, [film director Steven] Spielberg did a whole movie about it, where the Washington Post and New York Times publish these internal government documents showing that the U.S. was losing the war in Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg just released it, he steals the documents, breaks the law, and gives them to the newspapers. The newspapers publish them.” 

“It’s this kind of incredible moment in American journalism where the first amendment gives these newspapers the right to publish hacked – or leaked – information,” Shellenberger told Rogan. “And here you have Stanford University and the Aspen Institute saying we should stop doing that. Journalists should no longer write about leaked information in that way, instead we should focus on the person that leaked it.” 

“It really sent chills up my spine. It was the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. And Aspen is funded by the U.S. government, Stanford is funded by the U.S. government. One of the responses we’ve gotten is, ‘You’re just talking about content moderation by private companies.’ No, we’re talking about U.S. government-funded organizations.”

The release of the “Twitter Files” has confirmed that, every step of the way, the Biden campaign was aided and abetted by the FBI, Big Tech executives, and the national press, who worked together to carry out the Democratic Party’s agenda.

A previous version of this article appeared in The Washington Examiner.

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