I Voted for Biden But I Cannot Dismiss Tara Reade or the Obvious Hypocrisy
Part I: The Parallels to the Kavanaugh Hearing Leave a Stench
That smell? It’s not victory. It’s more like stale double standards and rotten hypocrisy. A current battle is brewing within media and the Democratic party. Blame is deflected at the anti-Biden left and Trump supporters, who obviously have a self-interest.
I’d like to think I don’t have one. I voted for former Veep and Obama-buddy Joseph Biden three times. Yet I’m more interested in the truth and principle than finessing favored outcomes. My pet peeve is intellectual inconsistency, and my bias is railing against it. Even at a cost.
We’re talking about the possibility of Biden sexually assaulting someone who worked for him, penetrating the young woman with his fingers, and then pointing at her angrily after and saying “You’re nothing to me” when she rebuffs him. This is the farthest thing from a nothing burger.
The price will be high this election campaign. This story is far from over. When Biden finally went public and flatly denied the charge, The Atlantic wrote that he “tiptoed around answers that could paint him as a hypocrite.” Democrats are saying today this won’t be going away anytime soon, and the media may finally go full bore after dawdling on the story. A New York Times opinion piece hot off the digital press bluntly says in the headline, “Democrats, It’s Time to Consider a Plan B.”
If the allegations against Biden are true —viable corroboration has been shown by Business Insider and The Intercept — it doesn’t mean I vote third party or for Donald Trump. Both options stink. Yet a reckoning will be had regardless or not a “smoking gun” of hard evidence pops up.
Make no mistake. The tumult truly began when Christine Blasey Ford accused conservative Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during his Supreme Court hearing in Sept 2018 based mostly on her own story and memories. This came with the full support of Democrats and the #MeToo movement. Republicans and many independents were appalled. Now 20 months later Tara Reade publicly accuses Democratic presidential candidate Biden of sexual assault and far fewer are jumping on that #MeToo train.
Perhaps the #BelieveWomen hashtag didn’t quite work in all instances, especially when a favored person is accused. In an election, the binary is especially fraught. The concept is now prompting a “reexamination” by activist celebrities like Alyssa Milano who haven’t wavered in their support of Biden.
Feel free to skip this comic if you’re familiar with the dilemmas at play.
Further below is my “SHOTS FIRED” social media post I’ve been stewing on the past few days, written on my cell phone in bed on a beautiful Sunday morning soon after waking up. It’s now turning into a lovely day, that I’m clearly wasting by not walking or biking outside with a mask.
But this is worth it. Before I get there, I want to lay out the current political and media situation more clearly.
Here’s a Biden-Reade Sexual Assault Primer for Sunday, May 3, 2020
If Bill Clinton were running today for office today, he might inspire a campaign phrase akin to this: It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.
Of course, it was Clinton’s allegations of assault stretching back to the 1970s that in many ways have put the modern Democratic party in a difficult bind. Far worse than Mitt Romney’s “binder full of women” did for Republicans.
I jest. Because we all know the true Republican elephant in the room: Donald J. Trump. But the joke is that when liberals tried to paint tepid Romney as sexist or racist it led to a “boy who cried wolf” phenomenon when Trump came around. Some say Trump is Teflon with his approximately two dozen allegations of sexual misconduct sliding right off him. More than 90% of Republicans currently approve of him as president and nearly half the nation, regardless of how many times Story Daniels’ name comes up or how often he’s blamed by Democrats for failing in battling the Coronavirus pandemic. As for commenting on Biden foibles, Trump took a curious detour. “I know about false accusations,” Trump said on Saturday. “I’ve been falsely charged numerous times — and there is such a thing.”
First I want to make it absolutely clear: I do believe legacy media is playing obvious favorites with Biden and inadvertently this will help Trump in 2020. It occurred two years ago when polls turned against Democrats during the Kavanaugh hearings, a lingering political liability that has been playing out all month with the Biden-Reade sexual assault allegations. Republicans are more than happy to weaponize double standards. “Fake News” has its appeal because there’s a shred of truth to it.
The partisanship in media is as bad as I’ve ever seen, and it’s only gotten worse the last four years.
The bias does seep in, no matter what editors and reporters say publicly. In 2014 it the Washington Post reported only 7% of journalists were Republicans with Democrats outnumbering them four to one.
If you want a prime example, look no further than NBC airing on “Nightly News” an excerpt from an MSNBC interview with Julie Swetnick during the Kavanaugh hearings. Swetnick also accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault, but she had no corroboration and her accusations soon completely fell apart. Apparently, she was very lawsuit friendly with a history of stretching the truth, which explains her choice in lawyer Michael Avenatti. But MSNBC didn’t check all the details before they ran the story, largely I’d argue based on Avenatti’s celebrity.
(Quick Avenatti Update: The colorful one-time media darling who gleefully sparred with Trump and Republicans was conveniently given an early release out of jail last week due to Coronavirus. He awaits sentencing for his conviction on charges of extorting $25 million from Nike that could result in 42 years in prison. Avenatti client and porn actress Stormy Daniels who says she had sex with Trump still pops up in the news, mostly to defend her name.)
NBC and MSNBC in 2018 clearly tipped their hand to favor Democrats in the Swetnick case. Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) joined media critics in stating they lacked “journalistic integrity” and claimed NBC News would never have run the same story against a Democratic nominee. There’s evidence Trump supporter Graham is correct on that point. Ironically, but consistently, the senator defended Biden’s character to Sean Hannity against the charges by Reade on Friday, May 1, yet asked for all personnel files related to the matter to be released.
Chris Wallace of Fox News points out Biden has had around 25 interviews with not a single journalist bringing up the sexual assault allegations since Reade herself spoke of the allegations for the first time on an audio podcast in late March on The Katie Halper Show. Conservative media like Daily Wire immediately ate this up like cat nip, but for much of late March and April, the mainstream media kept the story at arm’s length.
On April 12 the Washington Post and the New York Times finally ran broke a pair of high-profile investigative stories on about the Tara Reade case that some felt exonerated Biden. (The New York Times even posed an internal Q&A with their executive editor Dean Baquet to stave off “Why did it take you so long?” accusations.) “No corroboration” is what folks told me personally on social media discussion boards. This was also the consensus in opinion pieces across the nation where the flat denial of ever hearing Reade’s complaints by Biden’s former staff appeared to exonerate their ex-boss. Most who blanketly accepted the Times’ reporting had their partisan or Trump-hating reasons.
Skeptics thought the New York Times did, too, and Reason the libertarian magazine pushed back saying the Times was “extremely skeptical” in reporting about the allegations, especially when compared to Kavanaugh and other #MeToo stories. They added some of the Gray Lady’s fact-finding indeed “contradicts the claim elsewhere that there was zero corroboration from Biden staff.” Reason also stated how far-left Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson came to the same conclusion that Reade’s timeline of being removed from intern supervision duties after she complained about sexual harassment was indeed corroborated within the Times’ journalism.
Also, The New York Times deleted after publication one embarrassing section for Joe Biden. It was the parts about “kissing” and “touching” after “Mr. Biden,” which the executive editor indicates was done — shockingly — at the behest of the Biden campaign: “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses, and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
Reason wrote, “The Twitter version endured for longer.” Indeed it did.
(It’s worth noting the aforementioned Washington Post article had a former intern corroborate. She spoke anonymously, but remembered the essential framing of Reade’s story: “His hands went under her skirt. . . . He pushed his fingers into her, not at her invitation. Not at her request. She was confused about why he thought it was okay to do that.”)
The lesson is a simple one: It’s important to think critically, even when reading straight news reporting. Often as we carry our own bias, we read between the lines too much, or not enough.
Questions continued to linger for two weeks, but no one was asking Biden about the supposed sexual assault. Only his proxies were asked, like Kamala Harris, who were spouting talking points given to them by the Biden campaign. When Biden’s camp finally decided to have the septuagenarian talk on May 1 about Tara Reade, they picked the Democratic-friendly “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC to interview him. The Biden interview and its fallout has consumed the news cycle since Friday. CNN is asking, “Is Biden out of the Woods?” The New York Times was mocked by journalists when their editorial board suggested “an unbiased, apolitical panel, put together by the D.N.C.” investigate Biden.
Again, the media isn’t helping themselves from claims of liberal and establishment bias.
The Associated Press had a scoop with her on Saturday, May 2, where she said her 1993 complaint against Joe Biden does not include any explicit accusations of sexual assault. Reade told the AP, “I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable. I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault.”
Fox News’ Wallace himself was preparing to talk to Reade this weekend in her first high-profile on-camera interview before she “abruptly cancelled.” Many Biden supporters on social media are already speculating Reade is scared and continue to attack her credibility with the hashtags like #IDontBelieveTaraRead.
In fact, it’s social media Democratic partisans who fired up a #FireChrisHayes hashtag when the left-leaning MSNBC host dared to address Reade’s allegations and the problems they pose for the 2020 election. The lesson is clear to cable news folks who cultivate a hyper-partisan audience: You better stay mum. Gleeful conservatives shared that hashtag, too, along with stalwart anti-establishment journalist (and no-friend-of-centrists) Glenn Greenwald.
Reade Has No Mainstream TV Offers Other Than Fox News
Reade has said openly she’s been waiting to speak on TV in a moderate format, presumably outside Fox News, but claims she hasn’t received any offers. She even told the same to the New York Times’ Ben Smith, who’s delivered fair-minded coverage and media criticism surrounding the controversy the Times’ own reporting. “I’ve been trying to just kind of wait to get someone in the middle,” Reade said in a phone interview with Smith. “I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a progressive, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a Trump supporter.”
Smith’s piece appeared in the New York Times on April 30 where he stated plainly, “There’s still no clear explanation, however, for why Ms. Reade hasn’t been on mainstream TV.” This is among the most influential articles in prompting me to write this piece today:
Why Won't TV News Book Tara Reade?
The stakes are high for the media in the case of a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden. To hear more audio…
Indeed, corners of media are asking the right questions. That includes CNN’s Jakes Tapper on Sunday morning asking the following to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan):
“You said you believe Vice President Biden. I want to compare that to 2018 when you said you believed Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford after she accused now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assault. Kavanaugh also, like Biden, categorically denied that accusation and Blasey-Ford, to be honest, she did not have the contemporaneous accounts of her view of what happened that Tara Reade does. You have spoken movingly about how you’re a survivor of assault yourself. Why do you believe Biden and not Kavanaugh? Are they not both entitled to the same presumption of innocence regardless of their political views?”
Whitmer’s response was defensive and wholly inconsistent with how Kavanaugh was treated by Democrats such as herself:
“I have read a lot about this current allegation. I know Joe Biden, and I’ve watched his defense. There’s not a pattern that goes into this and I am very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is. And you know what? That’s all I’m going to say about it. I really resent the fact that every time a case comes up all of us survivors have to weigh in. It is reopening wounds. Take us for our word, ask us for our opinion, and let’s move on.”
Tapper responded, “For the record the reason I’m asking you is because you’re the only Democrat on this show and not because you’re a survivor.” And the conversation ended with Whitmer saying unequivocally, “I do believe Joe. I support Joe Biden.”
In fact, many Democrats are facing this hypocrisy firing squad.
Yes, I’m upset with Democrats. Especially as a moderate Biden supporter who voted for him in the Illinois Democratic Primary after my preferred candidate Andrew Yang dropped out.
As a writer and someone with a journalism background, I’m upset with the media. This was crystallized for me — again — as I woke up far-too-early this weekend morning to see a Fox News story pop up on my phone’s automated news feed about Tara Reade being on the receiving end of threats and harassment. I felt like posting about the hot-button subject on Facebook, but second-guessed using Fox News. “Nah, again, my friends and the people who need to hear this hate Fox News and will dismiss it,” is my thinking. “Better get a ‘mainstream’ or ‘liberal-left’ source.”
The problem? CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, nor hardly anyone was talking about Reade’s death threats.
To my consternation there wasn’t another article to find outside conservative circles like the Washington Examiner. So I’m left sharing this Fox News article with friends, and the message below:
Tara Reade says 'creepy' voice messages, online harassment targeting her, family
EXCLUSIVE: Tara Reade says she is facing an onslaught of online harassment and is concerned about the safety of her…
My Morning Facebook Post & Mini-Column
This post, like many of mine, is about double standards. Since I can’t find a non-conservative outlet this morning covering ongoing harassment attacks against Tara Reade, I present Exhibit H of Hypocrisy from this saga of Biden’s sexual assault allegation. Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s threats — and her side of the story — were constantly in the media.
Unsurprisingly, Fox News now gets most of the spoils. So I don’t want to hear, “Oh God, that’s Faux News!”
I mostly stayed quiet and on the sidelines about Kavanaugh, even though I really didn’t want him on the U.S. Supreme Court. Speaking my mind wasn’t a real choice — you’re either A. with him (and you didn’t believe all women) or B. against him (screw due process). Nuance was lost. An untenable standard created in September 2018 is now coming home to roost today. And, yes, Kavanaugh had a right to be pissed. It’s a normal human reaction if you think you’re falsely accused.
I’ll note the personal irony. It’s a pet peeve when folks bring up an onslaught of death threats in lieu of making an argument or to score political points. “Look how awful the other side is,” is the posture. But it’s undeniably true threats happen to many people in the public eye and venom is delivered from across the political and demographic spectrum. (I’ll make one sexist assumption: It’s probably coming from mostly men.)
No one is immune. This is an example.
Also, let’s be honest: Violent threats can be terrifying, but rarely is there follow-through with public figures. Improved security and law enforcement are partially why. Most of these asshole’s have a bark worse than their bite. But when’s the last time a mob culminated in a horrendous physical attack in the U.S. on a celebrity or politician? (I have one in mind, and it was on a baseball field.)
- Reade still can’t apparently get a non-Fox News mainstream or popular show to offer an interview. Why is that? (She blames a the cancellation this weekend over a planned Fox interview with Chris Wallace due to “death threats” to herself and grown daughter.)
- Silence, cover-up, and victim blaming from the same folks who went “all in” on Kavanaugh. Things that make you go, “Hmm?”
- Generally, I suggest folks check out Tara Reade’s Twitter feed and make up their own mind — https://twitter.com/ReadeAlexandra?s=20
I don’t know anything for sure. Neither do you. Lack of assuredness in politics and our world today? That’s kind of reassuring this Sunday morning.
But here’s something I FEEL strongly about (but don’t always live up to): It’s OK to stay on the side that’s not black-and-white. It’s OK to seek truth more than one-sided solidarity.
There is no them. There’s only us.
I’m planning on writing more about these allegations, but my focus will mostly be on the self-interested double standards by partisans in politics and the media. The USA Today article by former Justice Department prosecutor Michael J. Stern below is a perfect case example, as indicated by the author’s #Resisting-all-things-Trump (his words, not mine) bias and slanted argument.
We already know Republicans have done far less to confront Trump on his many sexual misconduct allegations, which number somewhere between 17 and 25. Wikipedia pegs it at 23 total. Trump truly is in his own class. But it’s a fairly weak-minded and unprincipled response to immediately go to, “But Trump has damaged more women’s lives.”
For country. For humanity. For principle. We have to be above partisanship.
Why I'm skeptical about Reade's sexual assault claim against Biden: Ex-prosecutor
During 28 years as a state and federal prosecutor, I prosecuted a lot of sexual assault cases. The vast majority came…
The rough draft for my next article. Suggestions welcome in the comments.