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Last year, it took just a day for Joe Biden to release an in-person video directly addressing accusations of inappropriate contact with multiple women.
Now, more than a month after his former staffer Tara Reade publicly accused him of sexual assault in a podcast on March 25, Biden himself remains silent — and even though he has conducted numerous interviews, no one in the media has asked Biden about the matter, either.
Biden’s public silence has continued even after a “Larry King Live” clip from 1993 resurfaced this weekend, appearing to feature the mother of Tara Reade alluding to “problems” her daughter faced while working as a staffer for the then-U.S. senator from Delaware.
And on Monday, Business Insider reported more independent, contemporaneous support for Reade’s claim from a former neighbor. That corroboration followed The Intercept’s reporting that Reade’s brother and friend had also backed her allegation, saying they had heard about her claim at the time.
Still, the only responses from Biden have come through his campaign. Asked by Fox News about the “Larry King” clip, the campaign referred Fox News to a statement earlier this month from Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield that said: “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.
FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the coronavirus in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Bedingfield said. “He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard – and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press.”
In March, Bedingfield had told Fox News: “Women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims. We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false.”
“Women should be believed.”
— Joe Biden, January 2018
Biden’s silence is a marked contrast to his more direct handling of previous misconduct claims against him.
Seated on a couch last April, Biden remarked directly to the camera: “I want to talk about gestures of support that I’ve made to women and some men that have made them uncomfortable. I’ve always tried to make a human connection. That’s my responsibility, I think. . . . It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s the way I try to show I care about them and listening.”
Biden continued: “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying and I understand it. I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”
Days after the accusations broke against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in September 2018, The Huffington Post ran a story quoting Biden as saying, “Women’s Claims Of Sexual Assault Should Be Presumed To Be True.” Biden remarked: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. … But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.”
Biden has previously said women should be presumptively believed, saying in January 2018: “It’s all about the abuse of power. … Women should be believed.”
The media, too, have adopted a strikingly new approach as compared with the handling of the accusations against Kavanaugh in 2018, as shown by a chronology compiled this weekend by Fox News.
On March 27, days after Reade’s accusation, CNN’s Anderson Cooper did not ask Biden about her claims in a lengthy virtual town hall. In its writeup of the event, CNN assured readers, “Joe Biden: He’s just like the rest of us.”
By contrast, CNN’s coverage of the accusation by Christine Ford against Kavanaugh was wall-to-wall within minutes of Ford’s accusation.
And, The New York Times waited weeks to even cover Reade’s claims, despite reporting on Ford’s allegations on the same day they became public. When the paper did report on Reade, it made sure to note that she could face jail time if she had filed a false police report.
The paper also said it conducted an extensive review of Reade’s claims, and found some contemporaneous corroboration — though not the neighbor quoted in Business Insider’s piece. The paper eventually admitted to stealth-editing its piece at the request of the Biden campaign, to eliminate a reference to past accusations of misconduct against Biden.
The Trump campaign has highlighted Biden’s apparent change of heart on sexual harrassment. In January 2018, Biden wrote on Twitter, “It takes courage to speak out against sexual assault, or to step in to stop it from happening. If you know someone who has stepped up to the front lines of this fight, I want to hear about it. Nominate them today, because #ItsOnUs to change the culture.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale responded on Monday: “I nominate Tara Reade.”
Both conservative and left-of-center commentators, meanwhile, have been unsparing in their criticism of the apparent double standard.
“There is more corroboration of Joe Biden’s sexual assault accusation than there was of Brett Kavanaugh’s, but you’ll never see Biden’s be covered to the same extent,” remarked The Washington Examiner’s Siraj Hashmi.
Aides to former 2020 hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, are expressing their anger, as well.
“The video of Tara Reade’s late mother calling into Larry King to blow the whistle about about [sic] Tara’s sexual assault is being met with relative silence from a cadre of progressives right now and I want you all to know that I see you,” former Sanders senior adviser Winnie Wong tweeted. “We all do.”
“Progressives didn’t make this happen. Corporate Democrats chose Biden,” Briahna Joy Gray, former Sanders press secretary, tweeted. Gray also added: “It’s a good time to note that Bernie’s on the ballot.”
And, Peter Daou, a political activist and one-time fierce Hillary Clinton backer, urged Biden to end his presidential bid over new developments in the sexual assault allegation against him.
“Credible rape accusations are disqualifying or we have NO moral standards,” Daou wrote.
Biden has an opportunity to address the allegations soon. On Monday, Biden’s campaign announced he will host a “virtual women’s town hall” on Tuesday — prompting The Daily Caller’s Greg Price to retort, “It’s safer for the women that way.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris, a onetime rival of Biden’s for the Democratic presidential nomination, has promoted the event on Twitter — even though last year, she went on the record saying she believed Biden’s accusers.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.