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Kavanaugh vs. Biden: The Media's Outrageous Double Standard on Allegations of Sexual Assault and 'Believing Women'

For weeks, Reason writer Robby Soave has been marveling at the mainstream media's near-total blackout on the sexual assault allegation leveled against former Vice President and presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden by a woman who once worked for him.  Based the 'rules' established during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation circus, all women are to be believed unless and until their claims are disproven, and entirely unsubstantiated accusations within this realm are to be pursued extremely aggressively by the news media.  And yet, as Soave has repeatedly noted, Tara Reade's specific allegation against Biden was almost completely ignored for many days -- as was Biden's own (very inconvenient) stance on such matters:


It remains to be seen whether the mainstream media will assign Reade's story as much credibility and importance as that of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh; they certainly have not done so yet. In any case, supporters of Biden—as well as the candidate himself—should take this opportunity to reflect on whether automatic belief is a useful or practical approach for handling decades' old claims of misconduct...the very recent precedent set by the mainstream media and mainstream liberals during the Kavanaugh episode is that all accusations should be revisited, no matter how old. Indeed, one could make a better argument for considering Reade's accusation than Blasey Ford's: the latter concerns behavior that occurred during the accused person's teenage years in the early 1980s, whereas Biden allegedly committed his transgression while a sitting U.S. senator. And again, Biden himself has taken the position that we should believe women even if it takes them a very, very long time to come forward.  It seems unlikely the Reade accusation can sink Biden's candidacy, but whether Democratic primary voters and the mainstream media are willing to air it out as they did Kavanaugh's will tell us a lot about what "believe all women" actually means.


Here is Ms. Reade's claim:

Reade describes herself as a "California-based victim rights advocate and activist" in her interview with the journalist Katie Halper, who has helped bring this accusation to light. Reade says she worked for Biden in the early 1990s and asserts that she was unambiguously assaulted by him in 1993. According to Reade, he began kissing her without her permission, pushed her against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers. "He said 'come on man, I heard you liked me,'" Reade recalled to Halper in the interview. "For me, it was like, everything shattered. I looked up to him, he was like my father's age, he was this champion of women's rights, in my eyes. I couldn't believe it was happening. It was surreal."

Reade had already complained to her bosses about sexual harassment in Biden's office—she said a supervisor had once asked her to serve drinks at an event because she had attractive legs—but had shared the more serious accusation against Biden with a few close confidants. She said she once tried to talk to a supervisor about what had happened, but this person shut her down before she could tell the whole story. She also said she filled out an official form detailing her assault, but does not know what became of it.


Let me be clear: I have absolutely no idea whether Reade is telling the truth.  Serious accusations require proof, and Biden should not be automatically assumed to have committed the alleged act just because a woman has said so.  The presumption of innocence is a core, sacred value in our justice system.  But consider some notable differences between the Biden and Kavanaugh situations.  In the latter case, Kavanaugh's accuser said she did not tell anyone about what supposedly happened at the time, which would have been when both parties were in high school.  Indeed, no evidence was ever presented that the accuser and the accused had ever even met (and the accuser's star witness and close friend has said that she cannot corroborate, and does not believe, the story).  In Biden's case, the accuser is a woman who indisputably worked on his Senate staff.  The alleged incident happened when both the accused and the accuser were adults.  And the accuser says she not only told close confidants about what transpired at the time, she attempted to report it up the chain, including filling out a written form.  Indeed, witnesses have confirmed that she told them what happened back in 1993:  


Those are very significant pieces of information that lend at least some significant credibility to Ms. Reade's claims.  They would be positively damning, based on the standards espoused by leading Democrats, including Biden himself, and their mainstream media allies in 2018.  The New York Times finally got around to looking into this story

Comparing the Times' treatment of Kavanaugh to their coverage of the Biden allegation is an object lesson in undeniable, egregious, ideologically-driven bias.  Not only is there no feeding frenzy about the Reade accusation, mainstream outlets are either burying their journalistic heads in the sand or running active interference for their preferred political party.  It's obvious.  There is no pretense of objectivity or consistent standards here.  None.  It's revealing and galling.  But at least it's right out there, in the open, for all to see:


I'll leave you with this interesting fault line that opened up last week, as well as this question:

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