New York Times takes heat for article skeptical of sexual assault claim against Joe Biden

The New York Times is facing accusations of a double standard after the newspaper appeared to dismiss a sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden.

The Gray Lady prompted cries of hypocrisy this weekend with an article about Tara Reade — a former Senate staffer of Biden’s who recently filed a criminal complaint — that positioned her claims in a prejudiced light, Breitbart reported Sunday. Needless to say, the Times appears to have gotten a whole new editorial philosophy since it was covering the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Double standards

The Times article’s title, “Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden,” immediately strikes a skeptical tone, one that was signally missing from the paper’s Kavanaugh coverage in 2018. The New York Times also reported a new allegation against Kavanaugh in September, Breitbart noted, in an article titled, “Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not.”

The piece fueled new calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment before the authors issued a critical correction — but only after conservative journalists noted that the alleged victim had no recollection of the incident.

The Times approached this story quite differently. The paper has received by far the most criticism for a baffling sentence, now revised, which read that “no pattern of sexual misconduct by Biden, beyond hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable” had come to light, Breitbart reported. The Times also included that language in a tweet, which it later deleted, according to Fox News.

Protecting Biden?

Reade says that Biden “pinned her to a wall in a Senate building, reached under her clothing, and penetrated her with his fingers” when she worked for Biden in the 1990s, according to the Times. A friend of Reade’s recalls a contemporaneous account of the incident, and another friend and a brother of Reade’s said she told them over the years about a traumatic sexual experience involving Biden, the paper reported.

But as various critics have noticed, the article appears to downplay those corroborating accounts while putting non-corroborating accounts front-and-center. The article notes early on that “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,” and that the paper found “no pattern of sexual misconduct.”

The article examines the corroborating accounts much further down in the piece, in just two short paragraphs.

As Gregg Re notes in a detailed breakdown for Fox News, the article was “stealth edited” to remove any reference to seven other women who accused Biden of misconduct from the paragraph stating that “no pattern of misconduct” was found. And he wasn’t the only one to point out as much.

“I’m not sure how that line from the NYT’s long-delayed coverage of Tara Reade’s accusation can sit alongside reporting that 7 other women have accused Biden of sexual misconduct,” Briahna Joy Gray, who served as national press secretary for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, observed in a tweet, Re reported.

Blatant hypocrisy

Indeed, the overall tone of the Times piece is circumspect and suspicious of Reade. As the New York Post notes in a critical editorial, the article calls particular attention to the fact that Reade supported Sanders and observes that her decision to come forward “had nothing to do with politics or helping” the Vermont senator win the Democratic nomination. If it can be believed, the article also makes a point that Reade had written tweets praising Vladimir Putin in the past and that “Ms. Reade said that she was not working for Russia and did not support Mr. Putin.”

The article also mentions claims of sexual assault against President Donald Trump, although that is not the topic of the article, Fox notes. The authors write that the accusations against Trump form “a pattern of behavior that went far beyond the accusations against Mr. Biden.”

Needless to say, criticism has poured in from many sides of what appears to be a blatant double standard over at the Gray Lady. One of the paper’s editorials at the height of the Kavanaugh controversy stated that he “wasn’t believable,” Breitbart noted, and the Times was just one newspaper that speculated about a connection between Kavanaugh’s drinking habits and claims that he sexually assaulted a former highs school classmate — a connection the media considered ironclad at the time.

Such credulity is wholly lacking here. Could there be an agenda at work?

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