Thursday, April 30, 2020

Is the Tara Reade Story Approaching Critical Mass?


Big Media silence is breaking in the Tara Reade story

by Thomas Neuburger

Is the Tara Reade story reaching critical mass, approaching a tipping point? It seems so.

The initial response to this story was silence from anyone with political or media power. The media in particular completely ignored it. Comparisons of CNN coverage of the Reade story with their coverage of the Blasey Ford story show a marked discrepancy. Reade told her full story first in a March 25 interview with Katie Halper. Yet CNN published no Tara Reade stories until April 25, and then, it seems, they published only in embarrassed response to The Intercept's revelation that Reade's mother had called in to CNN's own show, Larry King Live, on August 11, 1993 to discuss in unspecific terms her daughter's problem.

CNN finally broke silence on the Reade story less than a day after Ryan Grim and the Intercept published the Larry King show transcript and the Media Research Center located and tweeted a clip of it. Blasey Ford's story, in contrast, went viral on all national media. including on CNN, as soon as it was available. Deservedly so, in her case. Not so much, in Reade's.

To conclude that the media buried the story to help Biden remain the presumptive nominee is inescapable. The plan, apparently, was to starve the public of Reade news and wait out the indie-press storm until newer news drew their attention.

Once the wall of silence was breached, the indie press started asking why Democratic Party leaders and opinion makers, especially prominent #MeToo women, were either absent from the discussion or suddenly coming out in support of Biden. Kirstin Gillibrand and Hillary Clinton are the latest to announce support as of this writing, but the silence of many — Elizabeth Warren prominently among them — is still deafening. Note that "I support Joe Biden" and "I believe Joe Biden" are different statements.

Only Nancy Pelosi, speaking with Ari Melber on MSNBC, has been asked directly about Reade's accusation and replied, "I'm satisfied with his answer." (It's very much to the point of this piece that the only sources I could find to link to for this quote are right-wing sources like Breitbart. Yet Melber's show is on MSNBC.)

Now the story itself, or the story about the story, is coming to mainstream pages and screens, thanks partly to the shaming of the indie press and partly to the recent report by Rich McHugh in Business Insider.

Michelle Goldberg tweeted this on April 27, three days prior to this writing:

The New York Times now publicly acknowledges Biden's silence:
Democratic Frustration Mounts as Biden Remains Silent on Sexual Assault Allegation

Activists and women’s rights advocates have urged Mr. Biden to address a former aide’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. His lack of response has angered them.
In an April 27 New Yorker story entitled "The Biden Trap: As the candidate faces credible assault allegations, his progressive female colleagues are being offered a poisoned chalice," Rebecca Traister observes:
Biden’s shaky past behavior around women and their bodies isn’t staying in his past.
BuzzFeed weighs in with "Democrats Will Have To Answer Questions About Tara Reade. The Biden Campaign Is Advising Them To Say Her Story “Did Not Happen.”"

In which article we see this:
Democrats are in an increasingly precarious position as reporters assess Reade’s allegation. By any measure of the #MeToo movement that has seen the Democratic Party embrace “believe women” as a mantra, Reade, 56, has provided a serious account, disputed by Biden’s campaign and former senior staffers who worked in his office in 1993 but corroborated in part by people she told about the incident in the 1990s.
Chris Cillizza add his bit with "Joe Biden's campaign is twisting a New York Times story to defend against the Tara Reade allegation".

And the Daily Beast pursues responses from 10 prominent women's groups and notes their near universal silence (emphasis added):
Why Have Women’s Groups Gone Dead Silent on Biden Sex-Assault Accusation?

Women’s groups and prominent feminist figures have remained almost universally silent over a former staffer’s accusation of sexual misconduct against former Vice President Joe Biden—including those individuals and groups who came to express regret for how the Democratic Party handled similar accusations made against President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

The collective non-response from mostly Democrat-aligned groups comes as potential female running mates struggle themselves in responding to the Biden allegation, which has the potential to upend his campaign against President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women in alleged incidents spanning decades. And it echoes the division among progressives when the #MeToo movement revived scrutiny of Clinton’s own alleged sexual misconduct.

The Daily Beast contacted 10 top national pro-women organizations for this story, including Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Organization for Women. Most organizations did not respond to a detailed request for comment about the allegation by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in Biden’s Senate office who has accused the former vice president of forcibly penetrating her with his fingers in the early 1990s. Others replied and did not provide a statement.
In addition, according to the article, "neither [attorney Patricia] Ireland [who presided over NOW during the whole of the Clinton administration] nor feminist icon [Gloria] Steinem responded to a request for comment about Reade’s accusations against Biden."

Finally, the Washington Post's editorial board writes on April 29: "Biden himself should address the Tara Reade allegations and release relevant records".

What's notable in all these reports isn't the story itself. It's that the story is being told in mainstream media outlets where people with mainstream lives can finally see them.

What's Next?

The day may be almost here when Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Warren, and worse for Biden, all of the female VP candidates and hopefuls mentioned by Traister in her "poisoned chalice" New Yorker article will be asked on the record, not if they support Joe Biden, but if they believe him.

That's a question few women with strong #MeToo credentials will want to answer, since it ties them, perhaps forever, to Biden's "historical shortcomings" (in Traister's delicate phrasing). They have to be concerned that, if another credible accuser comes forward, it could sink them all.

Will this explosion of coverage lead to a collapse of the Biden campaign and a DNC search for a new 2020 standard-bearer? We can't be sure it will. Every indication that's come to my ears suggests that DNC Democrats, those with real power, are certain the storm will be weathered, the story will pass into the background, spring will fade to summer, then to fall, and by November Party-leaning minds will think only of Trump and the wreckage he represents.

But critical mass brings tipping points. We also can't be sure that Reade's story won't lead to Biden's collapse, now that the difficult questions are starting to be asked in places that give permission to ask them.

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At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's one thing for Dems to argue that it is necessary to support Biden despite everything. It's another for people to attack Reade and to effectively try to exonerate Biden. The fact that a lot of Dems are going this route, is an indication of just how bankrupt the party is. I'm glad though that these party leaders are showing us who they really are.

Power protects itself as an end unto itself and it will walk all over the less powerful to maintain itself. You could see this process playing out last month when the Biden campaign and operatives were encouraging people to vote in person during a pandemic -- dismissing the risks involved with doing this. You can understand in some red states why these elections may have proceeded, but the blue states that went forward, places like Illinois, really showed where their priorities are.

What's really striking to me is the degree to which a portion of the Dem base is exhibiting the behavior of authoritarian followers. Several years ago there was a question as to whether or not liberals would ever have their own Fox News style channel. It was an open question a few years ago whether MSNBC could fulfill that role. At this point, I think we can safely say "Mission Accomplished". I always thought that Michelle Obama's "when they go low, we go high" was a poorly matched description of the Clinton campaign vis a vis Trump in 2016, but this go around these people have really abandoned any pretense. Blue MAGA, indeed.

At 10:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the thing. I happen to believe Tara Reid. Her story is only ONE reason Biden will not get my vote.

But I also feel -having served on criminal jury trials- that the evidence is weak. I don't know what could constitute strong evidence, especially considering that the University of Delaware has sealed Biden's files. I'm sure that Republican jurists would order those files unlocked, but the Democrats will fight to defend Biden like they only do against progressives. I can't say which side would prevail.

I don't remember who made the following comment, but the number of women who are attacking Tara Reid -especially those who rose to defend Christine Blasey Ford (whom I also believe) when she accused KKKavanaugh of sexual assault in a believable account (I went to high school with guys who did similar things)- are showing their blatant hypocrisy. So much for the Sisterhood. And these women think they can revive the ERA? An amendment torpedoed by women claiming that unisex bathrooms (now very common) were going to ruin AmeriKKKa?

I hold out little hope for the survival of humanity when there is so much evidence that most of humanity is incredibly dense.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember Senators being yelled at in chamber elevators during the Kavanaugh hearings over his teenage behavior? Where are they now? Remember Harris & Gilibrand certainty about knowing Blasey-Ford was telling the truth how believing women is more important than power? ALL lies. Every thing Tara Read has said was corroborated and then some. What's worse is Kavanaugh was put on trial for his high school behavior with so much less corroboration. Biden did this while a US Senator. The DNC will say the Russians drugged Biden with spanish-fly before they give up their ghost nominee.The NY Times actually edited their story for Biden...#lesserof2rapist

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:44 AM

Agreed that the Tara Reid claim likely wouldn't meet a criminal standard. Like you, I also believe both Reid and Christine Blasey Ford.

From my perspective, if a politician was credibly advocating for things that would improve the lives of millions of people, and there was a binary choice between that politician and another who was actively making things worse, this kind of personal misconduct, in and of itself, I would look past it. If Biden had this issue hanging over him, but was going to credibly fight against the Medical Industrial Complex and deliver a universal health care system that would save tens of thousands of lives every year, I would bite the bullet and vote for him. Of course, he's not even pledging to deliver a fraction of that. With both him and Trump it's a race to the bottom. And the same is apparently now true of both majority political parties (with a few exceptional cases).

As far as humanity is concerned, I don't really see this case as being representative of humanity as a whole. I think we are dealing with a small segment of it on this issue. A big part of the problem in the U.S. is that we do not really have a representative system of government. We have a government and electoral process right now that is designed to serve the rich. The people with the strongest investment in maintaining some version of the status quo, have to contort themselves to justify a wide variety of perverse outcomes that the current system produces, so the way that some liberals are handling the Tara Reid matter is just par for course.

Time will tell if humanity survives. If it does, I suspect it will be under a different system than the one that we now have. e.g. either some kind of repressive authoritarian model, where people are so beaten down they they don't even have to register these kind of choices, or a system where power is more evenly distributed, and more democratically accountable at all levels. Hopefully, the latter.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This behavior is indicative of humankind at its most base instinct -- tribalism.

their rapist/abuser is bad. ours is acceptable.
suppression of their guy's story and attacks on his victim are despicable.
suppression or our guy's story and attacks on his victims are SOP to protect one of our own.

so, yeah, it's indicative of humankinds' being unfit to survive.

"Why Have Women’s Groups Gone Dead Silent on Biden Sex-Assault Accusation?"

you can ask why black voters also ignore biden's looooong record of being a racist and still support him.
you can ask why women's groups have ignored biden's loooooong record of creepy to abusive behavior toward women and still support him.

it's actually all part of humankind's unsuitability to survive... tribalism or just plain stupidity. There are certainly aspects of all of it.

As the election gets nearer, you can bet the farm that trump's campaign will make all the hay they can from this. There may still be a few odd million democrap voters who are reflexive supporters of whatever democrap the DNC pukes up that might draw the line at rape. The anti-blue wave will increase in amplitude.

Enough to make a winner out of trump again? Personally, I'd be more disappointed in humankind if it didn't. I mean, if you're not going to vote for a Nazi rapist, you really shouldn't vote for a democrap rapist either.

and what of the DNC? the media collaboration in suppression? the other democrap endorsers, especially the women? can any of them ever be trusted again?

Or do americans actually hold *NO* principles at all above tribe and religion (just another variation on tribe)?

I don't know. Slick willie won. But that was 28 years ago.

At 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's it then. end of issue. he denies it.

I'm sure the media will decide to let it go and the democrap party has already decided to support this guy no matter what and voters have already decided that this is their jesus to save us from the trump devil...

did his denial remind anyone else of trump's (and kkkavanaugh's and Clarence thomas' and slick willie's) many denials? I guess America's oligarchs will stick with what works, eh?

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed 6:39.

I am reminded of the scene in The Godfather (III?) in which Michael Corleone is pressured by his wife to admit to killing his sister's husband. The audience already knows he did, but he pauses as if to ponder granting her request - then he blatantly denies it.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger sharonsj said...

The Dems showed their true color (yellow) a long time ago. I hear that Jesse Ventura is thinking of running on the Green ticket. Since I won't vote for Biden or Trump, I'm going to send him an encouraging email.


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