Would the new Trump sex abuse accuser be so lauded if she’d been pointing the finger at Biden? The Tara Reade case suggests not
Amy Dorris has been widely believed and praised this week for alleging the president forcibly kissed her in 1997. While the ex-Biden staffer who alleged she was sexually assaulted by the then-senator in 1993 is a forgotten woman.
Does anyone remember Tara Reade? No, not the American Pie and Sharknado actress, but the woman who earlier this year accused Joe Biden of sexual assault. Reade worked as an aide to Biden when he was a senator in the nineties and in March of this year made a number of serious allegations against the Democratic presidential nominee.
Reade alleged that in 1993, when she was in her twenties, Biden pushed her against a wall, kissed her, put his hand under her skirt, penetrated her with his fingers, and asked, “Do you want to go somewhere else?” Reade added, “his hands went underneath my clothing and he was touching me in my private areas and without my consent.” Biden strenuously denies these allegations.
Pretty serious allegations, wouldn’t you say? Particularly against a presidential candidate, in the post #MeToo era. Particularly against one of those “old, straight, white men” we are constantly being told are responsible for all the ills of the world. Particularly now we are supposed to “believe all women.” Yet she has been all but absent from discussions for months while her alleged attacker tries to get into the White House.
Anchors have not badgered Biden or his staffers about the allegations, the think pieces have stopped, there was no ‘60 Minutes’ interview, very few on screen appearances, the liberal leaning mainstream media has all but forgotten this story. Online left-wing outlets did cover the allegations more when they first surfaced, but after it transpired that Biden, not Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, would be the Democratic nominee, they dried up too.
After Reade’s most serious allegations were made in March of this year, the New York Times took 19 days to report on the incident. Contrast that with how breathlessly they have reported the allegations former model Amy Dorris has made against President Trump. She alleges the president “stuck his tongue down her throat” at the US Open in 1997. The president, like Biden with Reade, strongly denies this happened. Did the New York Times wait 19 days to tell its readers about this? No, it was on their site within moments of becoming public.
Why the delay with one and not the other? Well, according to the Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, the Reade article was published “when there was enough reporting to present to readers for them to make their own judgment.” Fair enough, but then why is there already an article about Dorris’ accusations?
As for TV news, Fox News covered Reade’s allegations the most, as one might expect, but even they didn’t really pick it up until several weeks after they first emerged. CNN devoted hardly anytime to the allegations throughout the month of April and neither CNN or MSNBC reportedly asked to interview Reade on air.
There is also the tone of the coverage of both the allegations that should be considered. Dorris, who came forward to the Guardian earlier this week, has been hailed as a “gallant woman.” Reade’s, however, were reported as ‘Dividing Democrats as Republicans Pounce’ and ‘A complicated life and conflicting accounts muddle efforts to understand Tara Reade’s allegation against Joe Biden’.
To give credit where credit is due, #MeToo trailblazer Rose McGowan was just as critical of Biden over Reade’s allegations as she has been over the accusations against Donald Trump. She even called out the New York Times over the way they questioned Reade about the allegations and accused the interviewer of planning to “twist” the public’s minds with her questioning. Many others stayed silent on the allegations or, like Alyssa Milano, said that they “heard” Tara Reade but were voting for Biden anyway. The New York Times ran an entire column titled: ‘I Believe Tara Reade. I’m Voting for Joe Biden Anyway’.
I explained my silence on the allegations against Joe Biden in this clip.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 6, 2020
You are a fraud. This is about holding the media accountable. You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie. The corrupt DNC is in on the smear job of Tara Reade, so are you. SHAME https://t.co/B7NHK4k09K
— Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) April 6, 2020
When one considers the wall-to-wall coverage that was granted to every accusation against Trump during his bid for the White House in 2016, the negligible coverage given to Reade’s allegations against Biden is striking. It is even more striking when one considers the abuse and scrutiny Brett Kavaunaugh was put through, on the back of much more flimsy allegations than Reade’s, when he was nominated for the Supreme Court.
The media being partisan is nothing new, it always has been and those that believe otherwise are delusional. It has, however, got far more blatant with the advent of social media and then kicked into overdrive following Trump’s victory four years ago. It has even spread across the pond to Britain, where trying to find balanced reporting on the Trump presidency is like rooting through the Tuscan hills for truffles.
It seems very hard for anyone to argue with a straight face that Reade’s allegations wouldn’t have been taken more seriously if they had been made against a Republican. Reade certainly believes so, citing Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris’ vocal support in 2018 when
Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and Harris’s silence relating to Reade’s allegations. Reade says that the VP candidate has ditched her and other Biden accusers for political gain. It is difficult to argue this is not the case.
None of this is to say that either Reade or Dorris are lying. I don’t know if they are, and you don’t know if they are; very probably, only Reade and Biden and Dorris and Trump, know the truth of what happened between them. The same is true in the case of Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford, and so many other encounters of this nature that may or may not have occurred. The issue is the readiness to believe, hype up or minimize the allegations once they have been made.
It seems abundantly clear that such allegations against Republicans are given a far higher profile that those made against Democrats. Not that there is any acceptable level of sexual assault, but Reade’s accusations against Biden are more serious than Dorris’ against Trump, on top of which they are alleged to have happened when he was in office and on government property.
In fairness, the political right hype up allegations against Democrats just as much as the reverse happens, but given that the left has such a dominance in culture, media and entertainment, it never has the same effect. In an ideal world, we’d treat both the same and assess them on the evidence, but our world is far from ideal and we are doomed, on all sides, to a whirlwind of hyperbolic, partisan point-scoring rather than serious discussion.
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