I set up a Google News alert a couple of weeks ago for any breaking news on Tara Reade and her accusations of sexual assault against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s one of the least active news alerts on my list. But one article from the American Prospect did show up this morning. Alexander Sammon notes the deafening silence of most mainstream media outlets on the subject, but focuses more on the lack of response from Biden’s campaign beyond an initial statement of denial. He’s warning Democrats that their likely nominee is ignoring this story at their own peril. By failing to deal with it now, Biden leaves himself open to attacks from Donald Trump in the fall.
But even if Reade’s allegation is untrue, or partially untrue, the current approach of the Biden camp and its Democratic operatives, to issue one statement and place the burden on the media to do their invalidating for them, is an extremely short-sighted and ill-advised approach. Whether the Biden campaign likes it or not, Reade’s allegation is certain to factor into the general election, where Trump is likely to harp on it repeatedly, muddying the waters and giving the media something else to fixate on besides his tragic pandemic preparation mistakes that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. The Biden campaign’s lack of a proactive or meaningful response could look like political malpractice in the not-too-distant future.
This was not Reade’s first public accusation regarding Biden’s conduct toward female colleagues. Last year, several women came forward publicly to say Joe Biden had kissed or touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable—Reade was among them. But the highest-profile accuser at that point was Lucy Flores, a former candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada, who catalogued in a March 2019 essay for The Cut that Biden had behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner toward her at a campaign event in 2014. Biden eventually cut a video expressing a newfound appreciation for personal space (though Flores herself didn’t see it as an apology).
Sammon makes a couple of valid points in his article (from the point of view of someone interested in helping Joe Biden, anyway) but he doesn’t offer much by way of a solution. He’s undoubtedly correct that Donald Trump will be bringing this up in the fall, and anyone who thinks that Trump would hesitate because of the various, similar charges leveled at him in the past hasn’t been paying attention to Trump’s patterns of behavior in office. He won’t hesitate to throw anything at the wall and wait to see what sticks.
When he does, I’ll confess to being almost giddy with anticipation to see how the people at CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times handle it. (Assuming they do.) Will they preach to us about Trump bringing up Reade’s “unfounded allegation?” If so, you just know it will be coming from the same journalists who lectured us endlessly about the “serious nature” of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh and how we need to “believe the women.”
Sammon also digs a bit deeper into the possible reasons the media is refusing to touch the Reade story with a ten-meter cattle prod. It’s fair to point out that her story has changed considerably over time. When she first told her #MeToo tale, she only mentioned Biden touching her in ways that made her feel uncomfortable. (A claim that could legitimately be brought by hundreds, if not thousands of women over the years.) But it was only on March 25th of this year that she added in the far more serious claim that he had put his hands up under her skirt and manually penetrated her. It’s valid to ask why she waited so long to include that detail.
But if nothing else, Reade can at least make the case that she had a working relationship with Biden and was frequently in his presence. That’s far more than Christine Blasey Ford was ever able to manage and look at all of the press coverage she received.
On that subject, I will add that today I went back and performed the same test that I did when I first wrote about this subject on March 28th. I went to CNN’s website this morning and did a full site search for the name “Tara Reade.” I got the exact same result I did nearly two weeks ago. (Click on picture for full-size image)
It’s almost as if the woman never even existed. Funny how that works, eh?