NPR Public Editor: We were 'too slow' reporting on Tara Reade's allegations against Biden

You may remember that it took the NY Times 19 days to publish their first report on the Tara Reade allegations. That was speedy compared to National Public Radio which published its first report on the story a full week after the NY Times. Today NPR’s Public Editor admits (in the headline no less) that the radio network’s response was “too slow” and adds that the delay fuels “critical narratives” that suggest NPR is being partisan.


The New York Times and The Washington Post both published stories on April 12…

NPR’s own original work was broadcast for listeners a week after that, on April 19, closing in on a full month after Reade first went public with her story.

That timing conveys a lack of urgency on the part of the NPR politics team…

That it took nearly a month to get to air hurts. NPR’s silence on the story feeds at least three critical narratives, or perhaps suspicions: 1) NPR preferred Biden over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination (the story broke before Sanders had dropped out, but barely); 2) NPR is reluctant to tell stories that may help President Donald J. Trump’s re-election effort; 3) NPR is hypocritical, covering claims of sexual assault leveled against Republicans, but burying similar accusations against Democrats.

The story goes on to say that reporter Asma Khalid was assigned the the story on March 25th but didn’t want to speak to Tara Reade until conducting research on her. Public Editor Kelly McBride suggests that background could have been completed in a week if more resources had been devoted to the story. Instead, Khalid spent 2 1/2 weeks allegedly gathering background information.


Reade responded to the belated interview request from Khalid immediately but it was two days before she agreed to be recorded. The story was finally published on April 19, which was a Sunday.

“That’s when it was ready,” [NPR managing editor Terence] Samuel said. “We don’t think that show is any less important than any other show. The story was ready, we weren’t going to hold it.”

I was curious how the same reporter had handled previous sexual assault allegations. In 2018, Khalid appeared on air to disucss the allegations Deborah Ramiriz made against Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Sep. 24. That was a Monday and one day after the New Yorker published a story about Ramirez by Ronan Farrow.

Granted the Ramirez allegation was the second allegation against Kavanaugh. Still, that’s quite a difference compared to how long it took to cover the Reade allegations. And by the way, when NPR did finally publish their story it didn’t include any of the interview they had done with Reade’s close friend who confirmed hearing her account at the time. Katie Halper, the first person to interview Reade about the sexual assault pointed this out last month:


So not only was NPR’s reporting slow, it seems to have held back some things that the reporter did confirm in person. Why is that? The public editor says it can’t be the obvious thing (they slow-walked this) so it must be something else:

I don’t believe NPR was trying to give Biden an edge. And I didn’t find evidence of a double standard, but creating standards on a case-by-case basis leaves the newsroom defenseless against those charges.

Ultimately, NPR was slowed down by the frustration and complexity presented by an accusation of an assault that either did or didn’t happen 30 years ago.

This is what the left-leaning media does week after week, year after year. They apply two different standards and then, even when it’s obvious there are different standards being used, even when they bother to notice that’s the case, they still profess themselves mystified as to the reason.

Consider that we have #MeToo leaders like Alyssa Milano out there right now contradicting what they said about believing Kavanaugh’s accusers because they like Joe Biden. Just today a feminist wrote in the NY Times that Tara Reade had to be sacrificed for the greater good. So there is clearly and obviously a shift to a new standard taking place before our eyes on the left, yet when NPR’s public editor sees evidence of the same thing at her own outlet she can’t admit that media critics have a point. The closest she can get is to say that this double standard “feeds…critical narratives.” Well, yes, it does. But the point is that it feeds those narratives because those narratives are obviously true in some cases.


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David Strom 7:00 AM | May 18, 2024