In what has to be the most stunning and brazen abuse of the media’s cordial relationship with the Democrats yet, Joe Biden’s campaign is pushing for national media outlets like the New York Times to do all the pushback against the Tara Reade allegations.
This comes from a piece over at The Atlantic, which is covering how the Biden campaign is trying to navigate through the issue.
Reade’s allegations put Biden in a bind. His past behavior, including undercutting Anita Hill’s claims against then–Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, and his habit of touching and kissing women in ways that make them feel uncomfortable, has dogged his campaign for president. Partly in response, Biden has sold himself as a champion of women, pointing to his work on the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate and the Obama administration. When Christine Blasey Ford alleged that then–Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a party in high school and the Senate subsequently held hearings on her claims, Biden expressed enthusiastic support for Ford. “It takes enormous courage for a woman to come forward, under the bright lights of millions of people watching, and relive something that happened to her,” he said. She “should be given the benefit of the doubt.”
Now that he’s facing sexual-assault allegations of his own, Biden’s approach has changed. Throughout the Morning Joe interview, Biden pointed to The New York Times’ investigation into Reade’s account as evidence that it never happened. He’s right that the reporters Sydney Ember and Lisa Lerer wrote that no Biden staff members had corroborated Reade’s claims, no other allegations had surfaced, and no “pattern of sexual misconduct” was evident. But they did not come to a conclusion about whether the assault happened.
Biden cannot go on the attack against Reade without seeming like a hypocrite. He needs the media—especially an outlet with the kind of credibility and authority that the Times has—to do the work of exonerating him if he’s going to have any hope of leaving these allegations behind.
To be fair, this is probably the only play that Biden has in order to not come across as a hypocrite. He has to somehow weather this storm, but due to a growing chorus of voices both left and right who are questioning the treatment of Reade’s claims versus Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claims against Brett Kavanaugh, there is no easy way through it. On top of that, though, the Biden campaign has a long list of both female campaign surrogates and female contenders for his Vice Presidential nomination. He pretty much has to find some way to not attack a woman’s credibility no matter the issue.
That’s where his reliance on the Times and other outlets is supposed to come in. His campaign has already been caught using the talking point that the Times “found no crediblity” in the claims – a talking point that the paper pushed back against.
And now, the Times is back again, basically saying “Nope. Investigating this for you and the Democrats is not our job.”
As is so often the case in such situations, it is all but impossible to be certain of the truth. But the stakes are too high to let the matter fester — or leave it to be investigated by and adjudicated in the media. Mr. Biden is seeking the nation’s highest office.
In 2018, this board advocated strongly for a vigorous inquiry into accusations of sexual misconduct raised against Brett Kavanaugh when he was nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court. Mr. Biden’s pursuit of the presidency requires no less. His campaign, and his party, have a duty to assure the public that the accusations are being taken seriously. The Democratic National Committee should move to investigate the matter swiftly and thoroughly, with the full cooperation of the Biden campaign.
And to give credit where it’s due, the Times is spot-on in its assessment, although one can’t help but wonder if they have made that assessment because they’ve already been caught once covering for the Biden campaign and don’t want to do it again. Still, the paper of record makes a valid point: This is not something to simply be prosecuted by the media.
So, Biden has essentially been formally rebuked by the New York Times, and I imagine most other major outlets will probably follow their lead.