When you say the Hunter Biden laptop story was real, Democrats and their media allies respond that the private embarrassments of Hunter Biden aren’t news.

When you say a large retinue of former top intelligence officials lied when they portrayed the laptop as a Russian intelligence operation, they say there’s no evidence that Joe Biden profited from his son’s activities.

When you say Twitter censored a legitimate news story and active-duty FBI officials may have encouraged the company to do so, they insist that Twitter is a private company and that Hunter’s activities were not illegal and had already been widely reported to the public.

In other words, the defenses now filling the media evade every important question. Only one intellectually honest statement has been heard anywhere and that was offered months ago by liberal philosopher and podcaster Sam Harris: Yes, the laptop story was true and newsworthy. Yes, intelligence veterans and the press lied in suppressing it to help Joe Biden. And he supports their doing so.

At least this response owns up in healthy fashion to realities, which is more than you can say for the national media. It’s a good moment to remind ourselves: The allegory of the emperor’s new clothes is not a parable of stupidity. It’s a parable of cowardice.

When 51 ex-intelligence officials said the laptop’s emergence “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” they were lying. In the long history of Kremlin dirty tricks, there’s no precedent for so implausible a caper. The officials couldn’t even say clearly what they meant. A real laptop had been stolen by the Russians and leaked to the press? A fake laptop had been created with thousands of uncannily real-looking documents, photos, videos and emails, most of them diabolically designed to have no news or scandal value? The New York Post produced not only a complete and sufficient account of how it obtained the laptop data. It produced a dated subpoena showing the FBI was already in possession of the original laptop for months and would know if the data were fake.

The absurdity of the intelligence veterans’ claim was obvious at the time. The people who run America’s major news outlets (at least those who aren’t idiots) knew it.

So obvious was the lie that America’s biggest news organizations have to remain silent now because of their own complicity. What I wrote in week one remains true: “It ought to register with you how cravenly some in the mainstream media are trying to convince you something isn’t true that they know is true.”

So compromised are the national reporting staffs of the Washington Post, the New York Times and other outlets that they can’t be trusted on the biggest story of the day.

Or much else.