In talking points disseminated among Democrats and reported by Buzzfeed News, Joe Biden’s team denied Tara Reade’s sexual assault accusation against the presumptive Democratic nominee, citing a New York Times article as proof. Shortly afterward, a spokesperson for The Times denounced Biden’s team, saying the talking points twisted the newspaper’s reporting.
“Biden believes that all women have the right to be heard and to have their claims thoroughly reviewed,” the talking points read, Buzzfeed News reported. “In this case, a thorough review by the New York Times has led to the truth: this incident did not happen.”
The New York Times disputed this mischaracterization of its reporting.
“Buzzfeed reported on the existence of talking points being circulated by the Biden campaign that inaccurately suggest a New York Times investigation found that Tara Reade’s allegation ‘did not happen,'” a Times spokesperson countered. “Our investigation made no conclusion either way.”
A New York Times spokesperson says Biden campaign talking points “inaccurately” suggest that the Times investigation found that Tara Reade’s allegation “did not happen.” Response to this scoop from @rubycramer @RosieGray https://t.co/ZUD6f2WSEE pic.twitter.com/LNaHvH0ZxF
— Jonathan Easley (@JonEasley) April 29, 2020
On March 25, Reade went public with her claim that Biden shoved his hands down her skirt and penetrated her with his fingers while he was a Senator in 1993. Unlike Christine Blasey Ford, who could not get one witness to corroborate her claims against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Reade’s friends, acquaintances, and family members confirmed that she had told them about the incident shortly after it allegedly occurred.
Reade’s friend and her brother both confirmed to The Intercept that she had been torn up about Biden’s alleged abuse. Two more witnesses, a neighbor and a former coworker, also confirmed that the alleged victim had confided in them regarding the abuse. Reade also said that her mother had call in to Larry King Live on August 11, 1993, to ask for advice on how to deal with the alleged assault.
The New York Times acknowledged some of this circumstantial evidence in its report.
“As Buzzfeed correctly reported, our story found three former Senate aides whom Reade said she complained to contemporaneously, all of whom either did not remember the incident or said that it did not happen. The story also included former interns who remembered Reade suddenly changing roles and no longer overseeing them, which took place during the same time period that Reade said she was abruptly reassigned,” the Times statement reads. “The Times also spoke to a friend who said Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time; another friend and Reade’s brother say she told them of a traumatic sexual incident involving Biden.”
The accusation remains very much unproven, but the Times story does not grant Biden’s team carte blanche to claim the allegations have been disproved. The presidential candidate has refused to release his Senate papers, which the University of Delaware has pledged to keep secret until Biden retires from public life. Those papers might shed some much-needed light on the situation.
Meanwhile, women’s groups that loudly condemned Brett Kavanaugh over Ford’s claims have proven remarkably silent about the accusation against Joe Biden.
New: We contacted 10 top women’s groups about the Tara Reade allegation against @JoeBiden, including Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund & NARAL Pro-Choice America, among others.
None provided comment.
— Hanna Trudo (@HCTrudo) April 29, 2020
Similarly, many of the female candidates Biden is reportedly considering as his potential running mate have declined to comment — even to the left-leaning Washington Post. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) refused to comment.
It seems these Democrats have a selective outrage about sexual assault claims. When a conservative Supreme Court nominee is accused by a liberal woman without corroboration, they say, “Believe All Women!” When a Democratic presidential candidate is accused by a Democrat — Reade supported Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2020 primary — they stay silent or twist The New York Times to support their denials.
At least in this case, The New York Times is standing by its reporting and calling out the Biden campaign’s lies.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.