China accused the Apple Daily of "fake news" based on NBC News' reporting and used this allegation to destroy Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper. Apple Daily was a thorn in the CCP's side. They wanted them gone. NBC gave them the reason to do it.
It was in their attempts to run cover for the the Biden campaign and Joe's erstwhile son Hunter that NBC News' sought to discredit a document that was published which purported to show that the Biden's business dealings in China were both shady and had influenced Biden's policy positions on China.
As part of the story, NBC News' claimed that the document was commissioned by the Apple Daily. The Apple Daily, as well as the publisher of the document, have both denied these allegations.
But in reporting that Apple Daily was involved in the document, NBC gave ammunition to the Chinese Communist Party, which has been actively suppressing, censoring, and destroying Hong Kong's pro-democracy independence movement since at least 2019.
China's spokesperson in the United States, Liu Pengyu, said on Friday that NBC had reported that Apple Daily manufactured a fake report designed to impact the US presidential election through implicating Joe Biden's son, and by association candidate Biden himself, in shady business dealings in China.
The article in question was written by NBC News' Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, who have made additional spurious claims.
The Apple Daily shuttered its Hong Kong publication on Wednesday under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party. Its owner and primary funding source, Jimmy Lai, was arrested in August. His assets were frozen in June, and five other executives from the paper were jailed.
By the time Apple Daily's last issue hit the newsstands, with a run of 1 million, the CCP was claiming that NBC's reporting helped lay the groundwork for their silencing of Hong Kong's free press.
The article was an attempt to protect Hunter Biden's image, and to protect Joe Biden's candidacy for US president. Biden went on to win the election and took the White House in January. NBC News' didn't review the claims made by the document.
NBC's story took apart the document's provenance, saying that it was authored by an unknown person with an AI generated avatar, and put Christopher Balding, who edited the report and published it on his blog, under the microscope, attributing authorship to him.
But what they also did was accuse Apple Daily of having paid for the report. NBC News wrote: "Balding claimed that the document was commissioned by Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based tabloid that is frequently critical of the Chinese government. A spokesperson for Apple Daily confirmed it had worked with Balding on the document."
The Hong Kong Free Press dug into exactly what Apple Daily's involvement with the report was in an article they ran in November 2020. They wrote that "NBC attempted to corroborate this claim, reporting that 'a spokesperson for Apple Daily confirmed it had worked with Balding on the document.'" However, HKFP writes that Apple Daily then "contested" that "corroboration."
"The newspaper said in a statement that it had not commissioned Dr Balding or anyone else to write the Typhoon Investigations dossier, nor had it received any enquiries from NBC News prior to the report's publication." The short answer turned out to be that a person involved in the research was Lai's assistant, but that Lai had not authorized or condoned his involvement.
Lai tweeted out in October 2020: "I was shocked when our reporter asked me for response to the NBC article. I know it is hard for anyone to believe that I didn’t know about it and my integrity is damaged."
That assistant resigned from his position with Lai, apologizing, and said that he had "allowed damage to Jimmy on a matter he was completely in the dark on."
Balding also denies NBC News' claims. He also said NBC News outright lied about Apple Daily's involvement.
During the election season, Hunter Biden's business affairs came under scrutiny as the New York Post revealed that he had likely used his father's name and position to his own gain. There were additional revelations that the senior Biden knew more about his son's business dealings than he'd previously indicated. In response, the mainstream media, from NBC, to CNN, to The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and other outlets dismissed the claims made by the Post. Social media also silenced the story.
These outlets claimed that the information, gleaned from a laptop Hunter Biden abandoned at a computer repair shop, was hacked, or planted, or was Russian disinformation. Outlets ran articles about why they would not cover the story rather than cover the story itself. And these outlets also ran cover for the Biden campaign, which refused outright to address the allegations at all.