We’ve seen the media attempt oblique approaches before, but this effort last night from the Washington Post hits new heights in the Republicans pounce! genre. Faced with emerging new evidence that corroborates (indirectly) Tara Reade’s allegations that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her, the Post opts not to make those bolstered allegations the story. They don’t make Joe Biden the story. They don’t make Tara Reade the story.
So who is the story? “Trump allies,” and no, I am not kidding. Here’s the headline:
Trump allies highlight new claims regarding allegations against Biden
And here’s the lead:
Some allies of President Trump pointed Monday to new claims by a woman who said she was told about sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden decades ago, renewing attention to questions about the past behavior of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Apparent corroboration surfaced this week for elements of two accusations made by Biden’s former Senate aide Tara Reade, one involving harassment and the second a sexual assault. Biden has not commented on the allegations, but his campaign has denied them and pointed to his record on women’s rights and promotion of women in his offices.
Readers don’t get to the actual news until the third and fourth paragraphs:
Lynda LaCasse, who was one of Reade’s neighbors in California, where Reade moved after working for Biden, said in an interview with Business Insider published Monday that Reade told her in the mid-1990s that Biden had “put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her.”
Lorraine Sanchez, a former colleague of Reade’s in the office of a California state senator, also told the news outlet that Reade told her in the mid-1990s that she “had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.” Sanchez did not recall whether Reade mentioned Biden specifically, or whether she provided further details about the allegation.
It takes readers until the second-to-last line to learn that LaCasse isn’t one of the “Trump allies” pouncing over Reade’s allegations. In fact, LaCasse “can’t stand Donald Trump,” as she told Business Insider, and still plans to vote for Biden in the general election. Given how well this parallels the Post’s feelings about Trump, it’s a wonder they didn’t make that a more prominent part of the story.
It’s true that those speaking up for Reade now only provide indirect support for her claims. None of them are “witnesses” in a direct sense, as they were not present during the alleged sexual assault. However, unlike Christine Blasey Ford, Reade’s connection to her alleged attacker has been firmly established and these women confirm that Reade has been telling this specific story since the alleged assault occurred. Therefore, it is instructive to review a few of the Washington Post’s headlines from their reporting on Blasey Ford to get a sense of their, ahem, “impartiality”:
The conservative conspiracy theory about the media and the Kavanaugh nomination has a few holes [my personal favorite!]
That story reported on allegations from Julie Swetnick, repped by Michael Avenatti, which fell apart like a cheap suit but got lots and lots of media love. There are plenty more where those came from, but let’s get to this from the WaPo editorial board at the time of the Kavanaugh hearings as our finale:
Republicans first said Christine Blasey Ford should be heard. Then they insulted and ignored her.
I guess the same editors are probably patting themselves on the back for merely ignoring Reade — until it became impossible — rather than insulting her. By casting their coverage to make Reade nothing more than a pawn for Republicans rather than take her allegations seriously, however, the Post and its editors are insulting her in the same or worse manner than they accused Republicans of doing with Blasey Ford — whose allegation had no specificity as well as no contemporaneous corroboration, even indirect.
This isn’t just media bias. This is media corruption.