It's such a ridiculous trope that it's become a meme on the Right: When there's a negative story about Democrats, the media's go-to template is to cover Republicans and conservatives 'seizing' or 'pouncing' on it. In the case of the sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden, the early coverage was nonexistent. Then it shifted to stories about Democrats "grappling" with the matter, and a handful of check-the-box news accounts -- including an article that the New York Times softened at the Biden campaign's behest. Now, with Biden still personally mum on the matter, we're finally getting treated to the 'pounce' pieces. This headline was an instant classic:
Developments in allegations against Biden amplify efforts to question his behavior https://t.co/OWXvnKzvvN— Post Politics (@postpolitics) April 28, 2020
Trump allies highlight new claims regarding allegations against Biden https://t.co/ROGhgfuflZ— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 28, 2020
The former tweet is a deliberately-incomprehensible word salad, seemingly designed to avoid clarity. The latter, along with the accompanying story, sends a signal to readers about who is hyping the allegation, so they can adjust their tribal partisan response to it. The framing is the pouncing on the alleged pouncing, rather than the alleged pouncing itself. May I remind you of the Washington Post's coverage of the totally unsubstantiated allegations against Brett Kavanaugh? Mollie Hemingway has been keeping score:
The Washington Post has a problem. The newspaper led the massive effort against the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by publishing and relentlessly hyping a completely unsubstantiated allegation of sexual assault against him. Now, the paper is leading Democrats’ efforts to bury a similar, if stronger, allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden. To accomplish this dramatic turnabout, the paper is collectively trying to rewrite history, pretending the allegation against Kavanaugh had more basis than it did while also pretending that the allegation against Biden has less basis than it does. The Post’s anti-Kavanaugh operation had powerful divisions in both the news and opinion departments...Whether it’s Joe Biden or Brett Kavanaugh, both men deserve due process. Noting that Tara Reade at least has benefit of evidence that she has met the accused and contemporaneous corroboration of her claim makes her allegation stronger, but stronger than nothing is admittedly a low bar...[The Post] may try to rewrite history to make themselves feel better. They can dig as furiously as they want, but there is no memory hole deep enough to forget their behavior.
Click through for her full, meticulously-documented argument on the subject, about which she's an expert. This exhaustive timeline of the media's treatment of these two cases is damning. As I've been writing, it all speaks for itself and delivers a very clear message. May I also remind you that the Times' silence-breaking story on Reade's allegation featured multiple paragraphs about Donald Trump, and in addition to sanitizing the original verbiage about Biden's infamous handsiness, it was presented as a comprehensive investigation of Reade's claim. As Beth noted last evening, it has turned out to be less than comprehensive, as two Democrats have emerged to strengthen Reade's account. See this:
“Reade's former neighbor Lynda LaCasse, a Biden supporter, tells Insider that Reade told her about the alleged assault in detail in 1995 or 1996: ‘This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it.’...” https://t.co/itLS939ws3— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 27, 2020
Two more sources have come forward to corroborate certain details about Reade's claims. One of them — a former neighbor of Reade's — has told Insider for the first time, on the record, that Reade disclosed details about the alleged assault to her in the mid-1990s...The other source, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator in the mid-'90s, told Insider that she recalls Reade complaining at the time that her former boss in Washington, DC, had sexually harassed her, and that she had been fired after raising concerns...LaCasse told Insider that in 1995 or 1996, Reade told her she had been assaulted by Biden. "I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him," LaCasse said. "And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn't feel there was anything she could do." LaCasse said that she remembers Reade getting emotional as she told the story. "She was crying," she said. "She was upset. And the more she talked about it, the more she started crying. I remember saying that she needed to file a police report."
Ms. LaCasse says she's a strong Democrat and will still vote for Biden (proving once again that Republican voters are hardly unique in their willingness to make serious moral compromises in pursuit of political victory), but that she felt like she owed it to Reade to speak up and tell the truth anyway. As the drip, drip, drip of contemporaneous evidence backing the account continues, members of the media are increasingly realizing that ignoring the story and wishing it away may not be possible. Here's the reaction of one liberal writer who'd previously pondered Reade's claim through the prism of bath faith trolling, suddenly engaged in some -- shall we say -- fresh grappling:
This is the most persuasive corroborating evidence that has come out so far. What a nightmare. https://t.co/u4yPbEElaf— Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) April 27, 2020
A nightmare for whom? Needless to say, Team Trump is not in a particularly strong position to aggressively press this issue, given the myriad accusations against the president, some of which I think are likely true (especially considering his boasting on tape about engaging in precisely the sort of behavior women described). But this certainly throws a grenade into the character-based narrative Democrats were banking on using against Trump in the campaign, and with each passing day, it is exposing the media's undisguised partisan hackery. Many conservatives' stance on evidence and the presumption of evidence has been consistent. I disagree, for example, with calls for Biden to drop out of the race based on the still-insufficient case against him -- even despite what we've learned (which is far more than was ever presented against Brett Kavanaugh). How many Democrats and media figures can say the same?
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