Washington Post editorial board: Voters deserve to hear from Joe Biden on Reade allegations (and he should open his archives too)

Better late than never I guess. The Washington Post editorial board published a brief piece arguing that Joe Biden should speak for himself about Reade’s allegation:

TARA READE deserves to be heard, and voters deserve to hear her. They deserve to hear from Joe Biden, too.

The former vice president and probable Democratic presidential nominee has yet to speak publicly about the allegation Ms. Reade has lodged against him: that when she was a member of his Senate staff in the 1990s, Mr. Biden pushed her against a wall and put his fingers up her skirt and then inside her. Mr. Biden’s campaign says “this never happened.” Contemporaneous accounts of Ms. Reade’s claim are counterweighted by the denials of her superiors at the time that she reported any misconduct, as well as inconsistencies in her retelling…

Mr. Biden may have little to say besides what his campaign has already said — that he did not do this, and that this is not something he ever would do. Yet the way to signal he takes Ms. Reade’s case seriously, and the cases of women like her seriously, is to go before the media and the public ready to listen and to reply.

The editorial continues by suggesting Biden should make available access to his personal archives which were donated to the University of Delaware and are currently sealed.

There are, at the moment, no clear conclusions. There may never be. But that is no excuse for not searching. One place to start is the records covering Mr. Biden’s 36-year Senate career, donated to the University of Delaware in 2012 and slated for release to the public two years after Mr. Biden “retires from public life.” These could contain confirmation of any complaint Ms. Reade made, either through official congressional channels or to the three other employees she claims she informed not specifically of the alleged assault but more generally of harassment. They could also contain nothing of the sort. Insisting on an inventory doesn’t mean one believes Ms. Reade or doesn’t believe her. It signals only a desire for the public to know all that’s able to be known, which ought to be in everyone’s interest.

There are 1,875 boxes and 415 gigabytes of electronic content, largely uncatalogued. Searching won’t be as easy as some might assume. But an inventory conducted with an eye toward releasing only relevant material could at least ascertain whether personnel records are part of this archive at all. Demands for the release of the entire trove invite a worthwhile debate about candidate disclosures, yet that’s not a battle that needs to be fought today. The narrower question is whether the public ought to have as much information as possible about an assault accusation against a presidential contender, and the answer is yes.

Given that several people in Biden’s office have denied ever hearing a complaint from Reade, even a mild one, you would think his campaign would be eager to confirm that by searching the records. But so far that hasn’t been the case. Yesterday Tara Reade called on Biden to open access to those records because she believes something that supports her case could be there:

“I’m calling for the release of the documents being held by the University of Delaware that contain Biden’s staff personnel records because I believe it will have my complaint form, as well as my separation letter and other documents,” Reade told Fox News on Tuesday. “Maybe if other staffers that have tried to file complaints would come to light — why are they under seal? And why won’t they be released to the public?”…

Fox News on Tuesday asked the University of Delaware for access to the Biden records. The university refused, saying that the papers will not be released until two years after Biden retires.

The Post editorial board isn’t the first news organization to suggest to call on Biden to open his archives. The Atlantic published a piece by Peter Beinart yesterday saying the same:

The press can’t thoroughly and diligently evaluate Reade’s claims without access to Biden’s papers. Reade attests that she filed a sexual-harassment complaint with the Senate against Biden in 1993, but she doesn’t have a copy. The Biden campaign says it doesn’t either. And neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post could unearth one. Reade says she “was told” that the document “was probably returned to Biden’s office. So it’s an archival material.” Is that true? Who knows. But unsealing Biden’s papers could help reporters find out.

The Post editorial ends with a reference to similar allegations against President Trump but concludes, “Mr. Trump shouldn’t be allowed to set that standard.” Yeah, that’s great, editorial writers, but the reason Biden has gotten away with saying nothing and doing nothing thus far is because the media has been lax and disinterested in this story. But as usual there’s no self-reflection about the media’s role in this hypocrisy.

Having gradually been shamed into it by reporters from the Intercept and Business Insider, major papers like the Post are finally being shamed into covering this with a tiny fraction of the effort they put into the Kavanaugh allegations. They still have a long, long way to go but this editorial is a start. And when you combine this with the apparent behind-the-scenes push from “women’s groups” (who have also been conspicuously silent in public thus far), it seems possible Biden’s silence isn’t a tenable position any longer.

Bottom line: It took weeks to get here but Joe Biden is finally being put on the spot. If what the NY Times reports is accurate and not just more ass-covering by Democrats, then Biden has one day left to make a statement about this. With Reade calling for him to give access to his archives and the Post amplifying that, it’s going to look pretty suspicious if he says no. We’ll have to wait and see how he responds now that the media isn’t quite as willing to act as his defender.