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The Silence of the Media Lambs

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar -- self-styled feminists who bought every flimsy claim made against now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh -- have chosen to stand by Joe Biden in the face of a sexual assault allegation made against him by a former staffer.


The MeToo movement, which followed a New York Times' expose on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's abuse and degradation of women in the entertainment industry, was supposed to prove that the feminist movement was a moral entity committed to fair treatment of women, even when big Democratic figures stood accused.

Biden's preferred treatment shows what a sham the accusation industry has become.

When Kavanaugh faced moldy stories of misbehavior going back as far as his high school years, the bedrock American principle of due process and the notion that the burden of proof should fall on an accuser, not the accused, was conspicuously absent.

With Tara Reade's allegations against the presumptive Democratic nominee, the news media are reporting the story with a different set of rules.

When you look at the frenzy to report new bogus claims against Kavanaugh and compare it to the lack of urgency on the Biden front, you get the sense that Big Media stooped to cover the Reade story only in a half-hearted feint to discredit conservative critics who saw liberal bias.

The New York Times delayed more than two weeks to report on Reade's allegations. Executive editor Dean Baquet framed the news value of accusations against Kavanaugh as part of "a running, hot story" of a figure who was "already in a public forum in a large way." Be it noted, that "running, hot story" did not apply to Reade's claims against Biden, who just wants to be president of the United States.

Reade's allegation of Biden sexually assaulting her when she was a Senate aide aired on March 25. On April 30, The Washington Post went out on a limb with an editorial calling on Biden to provide documentation to refute Reade's troubling accusation.


At least Post reporters have tried to ask Biden about Reade's accusations. No reporter, including CNN's Anderson Cooper, asked Biden about Reade during recent TV interviews.

Having failed to ask Biden about the matter earlier, MSBNC's "Morning Joe" had Biden back Friday morning to address the allegations. First "Morning Joe" showed clips of the show's cast calling for due process for Kavanaugh. Then host Mika Brezinski cataloged all the sexual harassment charges made against President Donald Trump with no caveats.

Brezinski alone asked Biden about Reade. Biden denied the charge. Brezinksi did not follow up with questions about reports that corroborate Reade's accusation.

On Wednesday, Reade told the Times' Ben Smith, who has covered this story like a pro, that the only network which had offered her an on-camera interview was Fox News.

Let me make this clear. Unless Biden killed someone in the 1990s, I don't care what he did with a staffer decades ago, as creepy or loathsome as his behavior might have been. Maybe it's true, but the time to talk was when the offense occurred. What matters now is how officials treat members of their staffs today.

Back to the media and the feminists with pitchforks.

Kavanaugh's accusers were able to smear a man with unsubstantiated charges that crumbled under scrutiny -- and still cable news aired and re-aired the smears. Many Democrats still speak as if Kavanaugh were guilty.

Now there's newly released footage of a woman Reade has identified as her mother calling CNN's Larry King to complain about her daughter's mistreatment by a "prominent senator." That is substantiation, not the kind that should hold up in court, but enough to generate a torrent of stories against a conservative.


Does that mean big media should cover the charges against Biden as ruthlessly as they regurgitated the dirt thrown at Kavanaugh? No. The benefit of the doubt Biden has been enjoying is due to every figure who stands accuses of something decades old and is impossible to disprove.

As for Cortez Masto, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar and Warren, all potential Biden running mates, they've shown who they really are. They don't care about what happens to women who may have been ill-used or assaulted -- unless they can use their story against a rival. Then they get really indignant.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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