Over two weeks after Tara Reade, a former Biden Senate staffer, accused him of sexually assaulting her, the media finally got around to tackling her and the threat she poses to Biden by calling her a liar.
The New York Times’ article dryly titled, “Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden” by Lisa Lerer and Sydney Ember seeks to discredit Reade’s claims.
“No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation,” the article insisted. “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses, and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
Then that awkward paragraph with its mix of admissions and denials went down the memory hole.
The same Lisa Lerer who tackled Reade’s allegations had sat on a PBS panel which had previously discussed Biden’s misbehavior with women, including the allegation by Lucy Flores. At the time, Biden hadn’t yet entered the race, and Lerer opined that the Democrat positions on “standards around gender and consent” had shifted and that Biden had to “get right on those issues with where the party is now.”
But now that Biden is the nominee, Lerer suddenly has never heard of a pattern of misconduct.
Last year, Sydney Ember had co-written a New York Times article titled, “Biden’s Tactile Politics Threaten His Return in the #MeToo Era.”
Biden had not yet announced that he was running and the story mentioned that, “two more women told The New York Times that the former vice president’s touches made them uncomfortable.”
The pattern of misconduct that Ember and the New York Times had reported on in 2019, had somehow vanished in 2020.
In 2019, Ember had written that, “the list of women coming forward is growing.” Now they’re all gone.
Back then, Ember had told the story of “Caitlyn Caruso, a former college student and sexual assault survivor” who described how “Mr. Biden rested his hand on her thigh — even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort” at an “event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.”
Ember and Lerer were not only aware of Biden’s “pattern of misconduct”, but they had discussed it in their line of work before Biden had entered the race. Now that he’s the nominee, there’s no pattern.
Before Biden entered the race, he was a fossil who might weigh the field down. Now that he’s the nominee, the New York Times, Ember, and Lerer have to bury his accusers out on West 41st Street.
But the Reade story and the response to it showcases the larger hypocrisy of the #MeToo movement.
Reade was first interviewed by Katie Halper, a writer for Jacobin magazine, and then was followed up by an article at The Intercept. Both are fanatical pro-Bernie outfits. Halper had previously written a Jacobin article attacking Ember as an anti-Bernie shill for Biden. Of course, Halper is an anti-Biden shill for Bernie. The tawdry state of the #MeToo movement has reduced it to three women trading accusations and denials of sexual assault on behalf of two old men and their respective male bosses, A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the family business that is the New York Times, and Bhaskar Sunkara, the publisher of the Jacobin, and the former vice-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The #MeToo movement exhausted its obvious targets, known predators like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, and after taking down a string of media second bananas, became a purely partisan weapon to be wielded against Republicans. At the New Yorker, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow pushed Deborah Ramirez’s smears of Justice Kavanaugh, before Mayer turned around and tried to rehabilitate Al Franken by smearing his accusers in the same publication. The hashtags of the #MeToo movement were a farce.
The central defense of Franken supporters had been that his first and most famous accuser had become a conservative. The feminist choir member who had also accused Franken was carefully overlooked.
#BelieveAllWomen had become “Believe all Democrat women when they accuse Republicans.”
Not all women. Not all Democrat women. Just Democrat women who accuse Republicans.
The #MeToo movement had begun as a revolution against abuse and ended in the same partisan weaponization of sexual harassment in the nineties that embraced Anita Hill, while dismissing Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and Paula Jones, not based on the facts, but out of pure political cynicism.
The media killed #MeToo just as it kills everything that it touches.
We don’t need to believe Reade to dismiss the New York Times hit piece on her as an inevitable political attack . Ember and Lerer could acknowledge that Biden had touchy problems before he ran, or even before he became the nominee, but not now when he’s on the verge of his coronavirus coronation.
We shouldn’t believe all women or all men. And we should never believe the media.
Individual men and women can have a presumption of honesty, but the media staggers along under an impossible presumption of dishonesty. There is a reason why the #MeToo scandal burned hottest and brightest in the media, taking out chunks of 60 Minutes, NPR, and network news operatives. It’s also why the media can’t be trusted when it deploys its dueling #MeToo hit pieces and coverups.
The media is a deeply corrupt institution. Its external fake news mirrors its internal abuses.
The #MeToo movement brought down actual villains, but it was still a lynch mob. A witch hunt doesn’t stop being a witch hunt just because there are actual witches. The #MeToo movement insisted that the problem was more important than the process. And somehow the media, whose ranks and bosses included some of the worst #MeToo abusers, became the arbiter of whatever process there was.
That’s how we ended up with the Kavanaugh lynch mob and the Biden whitewash.
Is Joe Biden a predator?
His creepy misbehavior has been documented in countless photos and videos. But that doesn’t mean that Reade’s claims are true. There is probably no way to know what really happened between Biden and his former Senate staffer. Reade filed a criminal complaint against Biden a few days before the New York Times story went live. It’s hard not to believe that she joggled the Old Gray Lady’s wrinkled hand.
It’s in the hands of the authorities now.
As Americans, we don’t want our political system governed by media lynch mobs and witch hunts, by accusations that cannot be challenged and by accusers whom we are obligated to believe.
Biden’s political future, what there is of it, won’t be determined by what really happened in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building some 27 years ago, but by what he does and says now.
And that’s the way it should be.
Rep. Clyburn, the top Dem whose endorsement handed Biden a victory in South Carolina and the nomination, who had previously defended Rep. Conyers when he thought his accusers were white, complained that Biden had “become a victim of the #MeToo movement.”
Clyburn argued that Biden was “just a feeler, toucher kind of guy” and that his candidate was struggling because he was “afraid to touch anyone”. Social distancing has temporarily cured Biden of his conflict about whether to grope or not to grope on the campaign trail. But if social distancing ends before the election, the telltale hands may emerge and reveal exactly the kind of man that Gropin’ Joe really is.