An anti-Donald Trump protestist in Queens, New York, on Nov. 13, 2016.
Hunter Biden doesn’t hold back when it comes to criticizing his father, Vice President Joe Biden.
So perhaps it was no surprise to see the New York Post publish a scathing report on Wednesday, nearly one month after The Atlantic first broke the news of Hunter’s alleged affair with a fellow cancer survivor named Melinda.
The rumor itself was recycled—as a story that had been long covered by the gossip website Gawker—but most Internet users believe that The Atlantic, through its pagebase, put the whole thing online for the world to read. (The Atlantic says no one at the magazine is responsible for the story’s initial publication.) And the unnamed man who claimed to have sold all that gossip to Gawker didn’t hold back either: “Nobody has ever owned up to the fact that they really did create that Hunter Biden story,” he told the site, “but I sold them that shit.”
Biden, 57, allegedly began his affair with Melinda, 41, in May 2016 and proposed to her in August, months after his cancer diagnosis. Despite having been married to Vice President Biden since 1986, neither has revealed their relationship publicly.
“I had no prior knowledge whatsoever,” Hunter’s brother, former congressman Beau Biden, told The Post. “The guy is a scumbag and he is not a truthful guy. … And it’s bad for me personally and bad for my family. It sucks.”
As the New York Post reported, Hunter told friends that their affair began as a case of sexual harassment. Melinda told the Washington Post that Hunter was “too drunk to tell the truth” about the start of their relationship. Neither will speak publicly about their relationship, according to the Post.
“My younger brother Beau and I were not aware of this, and do not condone any such actions,” Joe Biden said in a statement. “Our concern is with Beau’s continued health and our family’s need for some time to grieve.”
Gawker, which the Post did not name in its story, was the first to expose Hunter’s purported affair with Melinda, after a Georgia man emailed them in late May, reported the Post. The newspaper also included a Gizmodo story that criticized the reliability of the anonymous men who sold gossip to Gawker.
In response to the Post’s report, Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio “thanked everybody for giving this ‘news’ story the time of day” but clarified that the writers did not conduct any investigation to verify the report. Gawker’s editor-in-chief, John Cook, told The New York Times that “it was creepy if anyone else had published it.”
“If The Atlantic was really able to flush it all out and they were confident that they had accurately, categorically, told the truth about it, then we think that they ought to be congratulated,” Daulerio told the Times. “There is probably no other publication that would be as freely able to publish something like this.”
In response to Gawker’s sourcing controversy, The Atlantic asked, via a spokeswoman, why “people who were unsure of the facts, including Joe and Beau Biden, believe Hunter was truly willing to admit to The Atlantic in a widely public way that he and Melinda had engaged in an affair when they had not.”
“This is just not clear,” the spokeswoman said.