While our liberal cable news outlets and major newspapers have done a heroic job of trying to avoid talking about Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden as much as possible, it eventually became too much of an embarrassment for most of them, so they had to address the subject. Efforts to discredit her claims and undermine her legitimacy quickly blew up in their faces because “Believe Some Women” was such an obvious reversal of the positions most progressive analysts had taken in previous cases where Republicans or conservatives were being accused. But this week I’ve noticed a rather unsubtle shift in how the press is talking about Reade after digging more deeply into her background. Here’s one example from the Associated Press this weekend. See if you can spot the new tactics and tone based on both the headline and this brief excerpt.

Biden accuser’s life marred by abuse and financial hardship

One thing is clear in the complicated, sometimes contradictory and often chaotic story of Tara Reade: Her life has not been easy.

Her earliest childhood memory was of being abused by her father, she told her former husband, a man she would later leave after he abused her, too…

“If you grow up in an abusive household, where your needs, your basic needs aren’t met and you aren’t taught to appropriately identify boundaries or emotions, then that’s going to impact the way that you develop as an adult,” [forensic psychologist Barbara] Ziv said.

Can you see what’s going on here? Simply claiming that Reade is a liar goes completely against the narrative. But giving her the same level of default acceptance as was shown toward Christine Blasey Ford would breathe far too much life into her story and potentially imperil the electoral prospects of Joe Biden. We certainly couldn’t have that, could we?

So, instead, they’ve dug up all of the travails that Reade suffered over the course of her life. She’s claimed to be the victim of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father, her husband, and others. She had a “difficult” relationship with her mother. She’s faced any number of runs of bad luck financially. It’s been a hard knock life and surviving a background like that is bound to take a toll on a person.

So rather than dismissing her as a dishonest person with less-than-honorable intentions, Reade can now be safely identified as a victim in her own right. (Though, of course, not a victim of anything Joe Biden might have done.) Whether she believes her own story or knows that she’s being less than honest, it’s not her fault, you see. She wasn’t taught proper boundaries as a child. And the mental scars from the abuse she suffered have led her to speak and behave erratically. That’s why she’s saying these awful things about the Democratic nominee, who is obviously innocent as a babe in the woods and cleaner than laundry that’s fresh out of the dryer.

It’s just perfect, isn’t it? This line of attack allows the press to give Biden a clean bill of political health without looking like they’re trying to tear down his accuser. Instead of painting her as a duplicitous fifth column agent of some kind, they’ve turned her into a victim. You don’t have to denounce her or abuse her. You just need to pity her and put this whole unpleasant story behind us.

This AP story isn’t the only article taking this approach this week. And I can assure you that it won’t be the last. Joe Biden, the Democrats and the press that loves them found themselves in a spot of quicksand for a little while because of Tara Reade. But now they’ve found a lifeline to drag themselves out of it.