Joe Biden, Tara Reade, Sexual Assault, and the Mainstream Media

biden-reade
Tara Reade (Photo of Tara from The Intercept)

W.J. Astore

Joe Biden has a history of inappropriate touching of women and young girls.  He has half-heartedly apologized for it, talking about how social habits have changed and how he’ll try to respect personal space in the future.

Tara Reade, who worked as an aide to Joe Biden in 1993, alleges Biden went further than inappropriate touching, details she recounted last month in a podcast with Katie Halper.  At the Intercept, Ryan Grim’s article on March 24th detailed how Reade reached out for support from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund (inspired by the #MeToo movement), only to be denied on a technicality.  (It turns out Time’s Up has a connection to the Joe Biden campaign: according to Grim, “The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign.”  No bias there.)

The mainstream media ignored Reade’s allegation for three weeks until this Easter Sunday, when I finally saw this summary on NBC News.

Let’s look at this NBC Story.  First, the title: “Woman broadens claims against Biden to include sexual assault; The Biden campaign says the incident, alleged to have occurred in 1993, ‘absolutely did not happen.'”

So, the title mentions a “woman.”  It doesn’t say Tara Reade.  And it follows that with an immediate denial by the Biden campaign.  The article also features two photographs of Joe Biden in “strong” poses, but no photo of Tara Reade.

The article goes on to cite how Tara Reade once had some kind words for Russia and Vladimir Putin, and that she supported Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders rather than Joe Biden, all irrelevant to her accusation.

Let’s consider the timing of this story as well.  The mainstream media ignored Tara Reade’s accusation until Bernie Sanders had dropped out.  And it’s curious indeed that the story was posted after 8PM on a holiday.

Well, at least NBC posted it, right?  My guess is that they decided they couldn’t ignore the story completely, especially since Donald Trump and his campaign wouldn’t.  So, by airing Tara Reade’s story now, NBC hopes to defuse it.  And indeed the NBC story includes a blunt passage on Trump’s own alleged failings here:

“Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 despite facing multiple allegations of improper sexual conduct and sexual assault. A recording of Trump bragging about sexual assault to an “Access Hollywood” host also emerged in the weeks before Election Day. In addition, Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018, in part for his role in making secret payments to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.”

I thought this story was about Biden and Reade?

Again, it’s hardly surprising the Biden campaign is denying the story.  Sadly, it’s also not surprising how NBC has framed the story, presenting it in a way and at a time most favorable to the Biden campaign.

Tara Reade deserves better.  We all do.  For as Joe Biden himself said, When a woman alleges sexual assault, presume she is telling the truth.

Update: At the Hill, Krystal Ball hits many of the same notes in this critique of the New York Times story:

19 thoughts on “Joe Biden, Tara Reade, Sexual Assault, and the Mainstream Media

  1. An addendum: The New York Times also covered this on Easter Sunday, again waiting until after Bernie Sanders was out of the race. How convenient! The story is filled with denials from Biden loyalists.

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  2. But Trump’s troubling background is entirely relevant, Bill! He is Biden’s opponent and yes, boasted of how “a star” can get away with anything. My stance is we should give the accusing woman the benefit of the doubt, but must bear in mind character assassination is a stock in trade for modern (and past) political campaigning. That said, the connection between the “Time’s Up” campaign and Biden’s advisors is also highly relevant and thank you for stressing it. It seems to me ‘Sleepy Joe’ has a history of “just not getting it” when it comes to changing mores and attitudes. He is stuck in the past and cannot be expected to put forth new solutions to our nation’s problems. In office of POTUS, surrounded by a good “brain trust,” he may be tolerable. No, that was NOT an endorsement of him on my part!

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    1. “Tolerable” — what a sad state of affairs!

      Neither Trump nor Biden have earned my vote, and I seriously doubt that they will. I’ll still vote, but not for these empty suits.

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    2. The same people on the left who were telling us to believe Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are now telling us to ignore Tara Reide’s accusations against Biden, even though she’s just as credible.

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      1. Biden’s position of great privilege as a US Senator from Corporate Haven Delaware, combined with an apparent tendency to want to touch people (especially women) not particularly eager to be touched–sort of baby-kissing on steroids?–have led him to his present dilemma. His pledge–will he actually fulfill it?–to name a woman for VP slot is almost certainly an attempt to divert attention from the accusations.

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      2. That’s the whole point! the Metoo crowd was all against Cavanaugh and now saying nothing. The difference, while both are allowed to be innocent until proven guilty, is that Reade’s story is already much more credible.

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        1. 90% of Democrats support Medicare4All. Let’s all threaten to stay home on election day unless Joe promises to get it for us.

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  3. What it comes down to is not enough people care about such things. As I tap this out, unless someone beats me to the punch, this will be only the 6th response to this post. The sense of moral outrage and righteous indignation – like critical thinking – simply isn’t there any longer. Maybe if it had happened last week … or on a “live” broadcast … but in 1993? That’s 27 years ago. Americans don’t care about what happened 5 years ago.
    The media’s response is what I’d expect: A serious contender for the presidency would get shredded, but Biden’s a joke. He couldn’t give away dollar bills in Time Square on New Year’s Eve.

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  4. The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, and the Boston Globe are now featuring articles that talk of the pressure mounting on Biden to make some reference to Tara Reade’s accusation.

    At the Guardian: “Pressure mounts on Joe Biden to address sexual assault claim: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has remained silent amid new reporting on allegation of 1993 assault,” at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/29/joe-biden-sexual-assault-claim-democrats

    At the Boston Globe (via the NYT): “Frustration mounts as Biden remains silent on sexual assault allegation,” https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2020/04/29/frustration-mounts-biden-remains-silent-sexual-assault-allegation/mWY5oQWJdX77JzkCBEb2SJ/story.html

    Meanwhile, prominent Democratic women have emerged as apologists for Biden, including Stacey Abrams and Kirsten Gillibrand. Abrams, who’s working hard to be Biden’s VP, says she believes Joe Biden, but Biden himself hasn’t said anything yet about the allegations: https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/495189-stacey-abrams-on-sexual-assault-allegation-i-believe-joe-biden

    Abrams also claimed the New York Times found Reade’s claims “not credible,” which is not true.

    Once again, the Democratic Party covers itself in shame.

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    1. Today (30 April) Pelosi threw her weight behind the “presumptive” (Ha! No need to hold a convention this year, Dems, the fix was in for Biden from the outset) POTUS candidate. Biden is looking more and more like the “consumptive” candidate, eh? “Trapped” in his basement at home! Meanwhile, Pence made a campaign trip last week via Air Force Two, a trial run for the Big Stinky Cheese, who says he’ll be out campaigning again next week. Arizona and Ohio the announced lucky recipients of his munificent presence thus far.

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  5. Oh, and Trump’s campaigning next week will make some token pandemic-related stops, like at factories making PPE for first responders. Just so no one can accuse him of cheap pandering to his base, right? Uh-huh. And when his adoring base turns out for his rallies, will they distance themselves from one another or wear surgical masks? Don’t count on it.

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  6. Finally, on May 1st, Biden has issued a statement denying Tara Reade’s allegations. But here’s the interesting part (from the Guardian):

    “Biden says his campaign has not reached out to Reade. He does not answer a question about whether he remembers her.”

    Why refuse to acknowledge that Reade worked for him for nine months? Why refuse to say whether he remembers her? This refusal speaks volumes about Biden’s lack of character.

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