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Everyone is a Hypocrite on the Joe Biden Assault Allegation

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As an outspoken critic of the dangerously low burden of evidence which the #MeToo movement and news media have recently adopted to evaluate allegations of sexual abuse (even those which never even make it into a courtroom), and as someone who vocally urged Democrats to nominate Joe Biden if they want to beat President Donald Trump, these are very interesting times. You see, thanks the news media largely bottling the story up, most of America hasn’t heard about it yet, but Biden is being accused of sexual assault back in 1993 by a former staffer, Tara Reade.

Until the last few days, the story was probably not worthy of mainstream media coverage. Reade had never claimed to have been assaulted by Biden despite all these years and many opportunities (including two campaigns Biden ran to be vice-president and the explosion of the #MeToo movement itself) to do so. She even failed to detail the assault in 2019 when she first publicly alleged Biden had acted inappropriately to her, and did not name Biden in the recent police report she filed on the incident.

None of that proves her allegation to be false (under the post #MeToo rules, I am always perplexed as to what exactly would constitute evidence an alleged act of sex abuse did not happen), but it does not rise to the level of corroboration needed to be widely leveled against a presumed presidential nominee who has been in the public domain for half a century. However, two significant developments have caused that equation to dramatically change.

The first was that a tape that emerged, via a right-wing media watchdog group, of a person who appears to be Reade’s mother calling into an old Larry King Live show on CNN, an episode devoted to sex abuse in Washington. During the segment, which aired at exactly the time period when Reade was leaving Biden’s senate office, the woman reveals that her daughter had some sort of a problem with a prominent male senator but decided not to go to the press out of “respect” for him.

Many Biden supporters I engaged with on Twitter about this story reflexively dismissed this tape as irrelevant because no specific allegation was described and Biden was not even named. However, unless you choose to be blind to the greater context, especially of that time period, it is perfectly rational to see the tape as compelling corroboration (not proof) for Reade’s allegation. After all, why the heck would Reade’s mother take the extraordinary step of calling into a very high-profile television talk show unless SOMETHING really significant had happened with her daughter?!

As one of the very few “Never Trump” conservatives who strongly defended Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanuagh against what I am convinced were flimsy allegations of sexual abuse, I found it particularly significant that the tape was FAR stronger substantiation of Reade’s accusation, than ANYTHING that Christine Ford had to back up her similarly old claim, which, to be clear, didn’t include hard evidence that she had ever met him. Since a huge portion of Biden supporters also believed Ford over Kavanaugh and thought he should have been disqualified because of the charge, in a rational world this would cause them quite a dramatic consistency problem, an argument Reade herself has made, ironically, to a conservative media outlet.

Even before the tape suddenly emerged, the mainstream media was falling all over themselves trying to explain why Reade’s allegation against Biden was getting nowhere near the same kind of wall-to-wall coverage that Ford’s received. The funniest came from the editor of The New York Times who tried to claim, apparently with a straight face, that Biden, who is favored to be the next president of the United States, just isn’t as “hot” a topic as Kavanaugh was (in other words, within his newsroom, no one cares because none of them are planning on voting for Trump).

Amazingly, the tape — which would have been treated by the news media like the finding of the famously kidnapped Lindbergh baby if Christine Ford had produced something like it — has done almost nothing to alter mainstream news media coverage, or lack thereof, regarding Reade. Outrageously, Biden was not asked about the tape even by CNN, the network on which the moment originally aired, and then three female Biden backers were interviewed on the Sunday morning shows without even a mention of the controversy,

Yesterday, a second major development occurred that should further bolster Reade’s case, at least under the new rules the news media has used over the past couple of years to determine whether a well-known man should be “cancelled” for alleged sexual abuse. Two new people, one still a strong Biden supporter, came forward to say that Reade told them about this episode, or at least something which is consistent with her current story, back in the mid-1990s.

Their accounts are understandably a little vague and are not totally contemporaneous, but they appear credible and convincing. It seems like that SOMETHING Reade thought was awful likely happened to her in this time period, but knowing for sure all these many years later looks to be nearly impossible without some sort of confession.

There are elements of her story that just don’t ring true (like the very open location of the incident, and the fact that nature of the assault sounds literally out of Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape). And Reade’s praise of Vladimir Putin and Russia certainly raises questions about her motivations. I think it is theoretically possible that either the accusation got exaggerated over all this time, or that it was not Biden who was the perpetrator.

But in many ways, this story isn’t really about Joe Biden. It is about how nearly everyone in the political/media realm is a total and obvious hypocrite. #MeToo supporting Democrats are pretending this allegation has no merit because they don’t want to harm Biden’s chances against Trump. Republicans, usually much more skeptical of #MeToo, who backed Kavanaugh because the evidence against him was very flimsy, are jumping all over this story because it might benefit them politically. And news media outlets of all stripes are deciding, as usual, to shift their editorial standards not based on what the truth is, but on which narrative best fits their particular agenda.

John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud  or email him at [email protected]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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