Yesterday CNN published a story headlined “Democrats grapple with questions about Tara Reade’s sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden.” The story notes that high profile Democrats are being asked about the allegations:
Some of Biden’s highest-profile surrogates — including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as well as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ended his own 2020 campaign last week before endorsing Biden on Monday — have confronted questions in recent days about the serious accusation brought forth by Reade, a woman who worked in Biden’s Senate office in the early 1990s. The Biden campaign has denied the allegation.
Looking at the same basic facts, Fox News makes a more interesting point in a story headlined, “Biden’s former rivals face questions about Tara Reade’s assault claim from the media before he does.”
Since Tara Reade, a former staffer of the then senator, spoke out about the alleged 1993 assault in her March 25 interview with podcast host Katie Halper, Biden had made ten appearances on various news networks and did not face a single question about her claims.
However, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who have both endorsed Biden, were asked to weigh in on the controversy during their televised interviews on Thursday…
Katie Halper, the progressive podcast host who interviewed Reade last month, slammed the media, saying it has given Sanders a “harder time than Biden” on Biden’s own sexual assault allegation.
You can’t make this up: media gives Bernie a a harder time than Biden… over Biden sexual assault allegations. pic.twitter.com/NFrcSxKqYc
— Katie Halper (@kthalps) April 17, 2020
I think Fox News is doing a better job here than CNN because the most noteworthy thing here isn’t that Klobuchar and Sanders have been asked about this, but that Biden has not been. It has been more than three weeks since this story became public and Biden hasn’t said a word about it. All we have is a flat denial from his campaign.
Mother Jones published a story today titled, “Sexual Assault Advocates Are Grappling With the Allegations Against Joe Biden.” The gist of this is that there are some people on the left who really care about this issue and who are genuinely upset about the obvious double standard they are seeing play out in the media. But many others are sitting back in silence trying to weigh the cost of speaking up against Biden:
“For me, this is extremely painful,” said an advocate who had worked with Biden’s office on sexual violence issues during the Obama administration. She asked to remain anonymous because she worries that expressing support for further investigation into Reade’s claims could jeopardize her chance of working with the White House if Biden wins. “I really saw Biden as a champion for a really long time,” she said. “I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance right now. I haven’t had the ability or the time to process emotionally what it means for me to believe that he did this.”…
Sage Carson, the leader of Know Your IX, a campus sexual assault advocacy group, said she is personally angry about the way the allegations against Biden have been treated differently than those leveled against Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was a Supreme Court nominee in 2018. “This is just further evidence that survivors will always be political pawns,” she said. “I’m extremely frustrated to see so many people who publicly came out and said that they supported survivors during Kavanaugh only then to do a 180 when it was someone within their own party.”…
“Some people are certainly responding the way that they are because of political calculus,” said Robyn Swirling, who runs Works In Progress, a nonprofit that helps progressive organizations and campaigns with their internal response to sexual harassment. “Right now, there’s a lot of ‘Blue no matter who.’ It’s been really disappointing to see voices who are otherwise very outspoken on these issues be silent or make excuses like, ‘Well he has a record of fighting for women on the policy level.’”…
The advocate who requested anonymity believes she’s not the only one feeling internal pressure to stay silent not just because it could hurt Biden’s electoral chances, but also because it could kneecap advocacy for survivors. If Biden wins, she said, she hopes to implement “a huge policy agenda” undoing Trump’s policies on sexual violence. “There’s a ton of people like me, who want to be changemakers on the inside and the outside, and don’t know what it will do to their ability to be a changemaker on the inside if we rightfully say at this moment, ‘There needs to be an investigation, and this is unacceptable.”
The reluctance to speak up isn’t just theoretical. The Mother Jones story states “Eight national organizations that advocate for sexual violence survivors did not respond to a request for a comment or interview.” These national organizations who exist solely to deal with issues like this are sitting in the background, choosing not to say anything which might damage the candidate. In other words, they are behaving just like Joe Biden himself.
I’ve said before that I don’t know the truth about Reade’s allegations, but I do think that, as it stands at this moment, her allegations appear more credible than those leveled against Brett Kavanaugh, including by Dr. Ford. That could change of course but Dr. Ford had one big advantage when telling her story. Because Democrats were supporting her, she got to tell her story on television in front of the whole country. Then her words were repeatedly endlessly for weeks by the media. She had a platform and a very big microphone.
Have you heard Tara Reade’s story in her own words? I don’t mean reading about it or seeing tweets about it. I mean have you heard her tell it?
When Ed wrote about this last month he included video of an account she gave to the Hill last month. So if you’re a regular reader maybe you have heard it. But I’d be willing to bet most Americans have not. Why is that?
Here’s the podcast where Reade first told her story. If you don’t have time to listen to the entire podcast, skip ahead to 14 minutes where she starts talking about the sexual assault incident with Biden.