FILE- This May 2, 2017, file photo, shows the corporate signage on the headquarters building of The New York Times in New York. The New York Times Co. reports earnings Thursday, May 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
On Sunday, the New York Times finally got around to doing a “deep dive” into the sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden by former staffer Tara Reade.
It amounted to basically an effort to dismiss the claims, with an incredible paragraph that was also tweeted out and caused a huge backlash, understandably so.
"We found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable"
What a sentence to write! pic.twitter.com/NVG0qCnoxL
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) April 12, 2020
The paper than stealth-edited the “We found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable” part out of the story and deleted the tweet that contained it, calling it “imprecise language.”
So today, they essentially tried to explain themselves. Ben Smith (formerly the Buzzfeed guy) is now with the Times as a media columnist. He interviewed Times editor Dean Baquet about their coverage of the case.
First, Smith asked Baquet why they delayed the article and didn’t write something when the allegations came out about nineteen days ago.
Banquet said that yes, they could have done a short, straightforward news story, but that he thought that what they “should try to offer was the reporting to help people understand what to make of a fairly serious allegation against a guy who had been a vice president of the United States and was knocking on the door of being his party’s nominee” and that doing a straightforward news story might not have “have helped the reader understand”
Wow, so many things right there. The acknowledgment that the story isn’t really about “straight news,” but about helping you to understand the claim as you should (translation: as they would want you to understand it). What a thing to admit.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that it was buried on Easter weekend and after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropped out.
Then Smith asked Baquet about the obvious differences between the way this story about Biden was dealt with as opposed to that against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
I’ve been looking at The Times’s coverage of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. I want to focus particularly on the Julie Swetnick allegations. She was the one who was represented by Michael Avenatti and who suggested that Kavanaugh had been involved in frat house rapes, and then appeared to walk back elements of her allegations. The Times wrote that story the same day she made the allegation, noting that “none of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated.”
Kavanaugh was already in a public forum in a large way. Kavanaugh’s status as a Supreme Court justice was in question because of a very serious allegation. And when I say in a public way, I don’t mean in the public way of Tara Reade’s. If you ask the average person in America, they didn’t know about the Tara Reade case. So I thought in that case, if The New York Times was going to introduce this to readers, we needed to introduce it with some reporting and perspective. Kavanaugh was in a very different situation. It was a live, ongoing story that had become the biggest political story in the country. It was just a different news judgment moment.
Are they really trying to argue Biden wasn’t in the public forum already? Seriously? Of course, there was also a fundamental difference in the way the two stories were dealt with, adding in accusations about President Donald Trump. (Why are they putting a “whataboutism” in there that has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Biden?) As Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted, Baquet gave some “weak and sometimes laughable answers.” With a horrible double standard.
In the case of Reade, she was an actual staffer of Biden’s who could actually remember where and when the alleged assault occurred. She told another friend at the time and other people over the years. She said she was removed from supervising interns as retaliation and the interns remembered her being removed (although they didn’t know why). As opposed to Christine Blasey Ford who couldn’t remember the year or the place, had no connection to Kavanaugh and whose friend didn’t back up her story.
Remember the press spent a month essentially arguing that underage drinking was evidence that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, but a long pattern of “hugs, kisses, and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable” proves Biden’s innocence. pic.twitter.com/CPGr48o8nK
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) April 12, 2020
Honestly, that isn’t even the craziest line in the story. This line where they imply Reade filed a false police report and could face consequences is insane. Can you imagine them implying Ford or Ramirez should face consequences for a false allegation in their initial reports? pic.twitter.com/7Zdo4GqBVv
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) April 12, 2020
But perhaps the worst part was this part right here:
Also, Baquet admits they edited out the end of the line about other sexual misconduct in response to complaints from the Biden campaign…. pic.twitter.com/f3uA1g8245
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) April 13, 2020
Wait, what? Did they just say the quiet part out loud? They’re admitting they took out the language because the campaign didn’t like it? But there were multiple other instances of inappropriate conduct that they just edited out, apparently at the request of the campaign. Moreover, if they intended something else in the sentence, why did they take it out completely and not replace it?
The fact that media took out such a thing at the apparent request of a political campaign should be scandalous and huge news.
But given it’s a Democratic candidate, it’s apparently just another day. He’s so cavalier about it, as though it is nothing to have such a communication with the campaign. Makes you wonder how many times this has happened.
Must be good to be a Democrat and have the media backstopping for you.