(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
The Paper of record is now recalibrating everything from MeToo and even political hierarchy
We have long passed the line of suspicion that there is a vested bias in the major news outlets; we have segued into the realm of cataloging their instances and then wielding them as necessary. Currently, we are being served one of the more brazen examples of a media double standard, arriving from what is ostensibly the biggest news outlet in the country.
With the Democratic nomination now established, one of the stories surrounding Joe Biden is a case of alleged sexual harassment being brought forward by a woman. This is a story the media has grudgingly reported on, forced into it mostly of their own doing. For years now, the media has been using sexual assault claims and the #MeToo movement as a cudgel politically, and as a result, they have become cornered. A former Biden staff worker, Tara Reade, has made declarative accusations about Biden and inappropriate behavior, and the press has been pained in how it can extricate itself from a cage of its own making.
The New York Times has been especially challenged in this enterprise. The outlet has strained mightily to excuse Biden of wrongdoing, working logic into such a twisted fashion that mustard needs to be applied in order for it to be consumed. What has them so flummoxed is that Reade’s story reads so closely to those that surrounded Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing that you would be excused for suspecting plagiarism is involved.
Reade has come forward with bold claims of direct assault performed by Joe Biden. What is most apparent is how the media has dispatched all of the prior arguments made to direct us to believe the charges made by Christine Blasey-Ford. We had to believe all women, we were told, and that the seriousness of the accusation meant we had to dispatch commonly held precepts like the assumption of innocence, and the weight of evidence. No, Ford’s suspect testimony was deemed to be of such import as to demand investigation and Kavanaugh was tasked with the responsibility of clearing his name.
Now we get the exact same type of accusation leveled at Joe Biden, and the press has suddenly rediscovered the legal underpinning of our country. Biden has to be assumed innocent, we are now guided on the matter. Reade’s account of what transpired has to be meticulously analyzed, and her words are not taken as ironclad proof, in the manner that Blasey-Ford was so readily believed. And in an effort to extricate itself fully from reporting, the Times is reestablishing political importance.
Lisa Lerer has been reporting on this accusation, and she has attempted to show the newspaper is doing its proper diligence.
The Times interviewed Ms. Reade on multiple days over hours, those she told about Mr. Biden’s behavior and friends. The Times also interviewed lawyers who spoke to Ms. Reade; nearly 24 people who worked with Mr. Biden in the 1990s and 7 women who criticized Mr. Biden last year. https://t.co/zOnwDINQtB
— Lisa Lerer (@llerer) April 12, 2020
This is in itself not objectionable. Delving into the details and ferreting out the facts is encouraged. What is striking, however, is the conclusions that the Times arrives at. Considering it is being given an amount of evidence matching that we had been presented with the Kavanaugh accusations, the way they arrive at starkly differing conclusions is remarkable.
“No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.” https://t.co/51t2O3efXf
— Lisa Lerer (@llerer) April 12, 2020
Open and shut, is the message here. Of course, this ignores that there are half a dozen or so other women coming out with stories of their encounters with Biden. It also is a hope that we will not recall the reaction during the Kavanaugh kerfuffle. With the same scant details and no solid corroborating witnesses, Christine Blasey-Ford rose to national prominence with her accusation. Weeks of headlines and truckloads of assumptions were unloaded about the nominee as a result. To this day, Brett Kavanaugh is regarded as a sexual predator in the minds of millions, thought to have gotten away with something.
Tara Reade’s account is something the New York Times wishes you to forget, very soon. What is glaring is that whatever flaws the Times wants to contend exist in her story, they are surpassed by those that existed in the Blasey-Ford testimony. In her account of Kavanaugh’s alleged act, she could not recall the location, the date, and was even unclear of the year of her supposed assault. Her claim of witnesses to the event never delivered, and any accounts found only rose to a she-had-mentioned type of confirmation. Despite this cheesecloth-thin evidence, The Times delivered numerous articles over the span of weeks, driving the narrative during a contentious confirmation and even published a book about the entire incident.
Today, when given the exact same measure of “proof’” the outlet is dismissive, justifying its avoidance. Another writer for the Times, Kate Kelly, delivers the position of the paper today, attempting to explain away both the story and their hypocrisy in the coverage.
And as our executive editor @deanbaquet pointed out in a recent interview with my colleague @benyt, Kavanaugh "was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment."
— Kate Kelly (@katekelly) April 15, 2020
This is amazing. Not to say this excuse floats in any fashion, but that the New York Times actually is trying to sell us on this concept. We have to believe that the character of a potential Supreme Court Justice matters more than the character of a man running to become the leader of the nation. We have to believe that the alleged actions of an individual in their high school years carry more importance than the alleged actions of an adult while holding a political office.
And, we have to believe that the gulf that exists in the middle of this double-standard has nothing whatsoever to do with the political affiliation of those involved. What needs to be done is that we hold on to items exactly like this one. Because, going forward, it will be held up as definitive proof when the news industry is wondering why fewer people decide we do not have to believe them when stories like this arise.