The Washington Post, an enormously influential and widely cited publication, fought the good fight. For five solid weeks, it was able to pretend that Tara Reade’s sexual-assault allegations against Joe Biden either didn’t exist or were so illegitimate as to be unworthy of any serious attention. For five solid weeks, The Post was able to wait and see which way the political winds might ultimately blow, and to give Ms. Reade some time to realize that she was fighting a losing battle and should just go away.
Consider a few remarkable numbers. On September 15, 2018, The Washington Post published its first story about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual-assault claims against Brett Kavanaugh. Three weeks later — on October 6, 2018 — the Senate voted to confirm Kavanaugh. During the 21 days in between, The Post produced approximately 760 news articles and opinion pieces about the Kavanaugh-Ford affair. The vast majority of those stories trashed Kavanaugh and were sympathetic to Ford.
By contrast, Tara Reade went public with her sexual-assault charge against Joe Biden in a podcast interview on March 25, 2020, when she reported that Biden had digitally raped her when she was an employee in his Senate office. During the 21 days after Ms. Reade went public with her story, The Washington Post published a grand total of precisely 4 articles or op-ed pieces about the case. That’s right. The 21-day ratio for Post coverage of the Kavanaugh and Biden stories was 760 to 4 — or, to put it another way, 190 to 1. In fact, the paper did not publish even a single story about Reade’s claims against Biden until April 12 — fully eighteen days after the accuser publicly announced that Biden had forcibly inserted two of his fingers into her vagina.
And that’s despite the fact that in 2018 — while Christine Blasey Ford was accusing Brett Kavanaugh of a past sexual assault — none other than Joe Biden himself had piously pronounced:
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.
The Post’s decision to ignore Reade’s allegations for so long is even more remarkable when we consider the enormously serious nature of the charge she was making. On January 6, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that FBI Director Robert Mueller — in response to “the voices of survivors, advocates, law enforcement personnel and many others” — had just made an “important change” in how the Bureau defined “forcible rape.” Whereas the definition previously had “only included forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina,” the new definition would now be this: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
But The Washington Post doesn’t give a damn about the new rape, the old rape, or any other kind of rape — unless the suspected offender is a conservative. Not until April 28 — five weeks after Tara Reade had gone public with her claims against Biden — did The Post even begin to give her case anything more than the barest passing mention. Whereas the ratio for Post coverage of the Kavanaugh and Biden stories had theretofore been about 190 to 1, beginning on April 28 the new ratio was about 8 to 1 — still a shameful, though not nearly as astronomical, discrepancy.
Why the shift at that point? Because by April 28, it was no longer possible for The Post to pretend that Tara Reade didn’t exist. Because by then, other news outlets were reporting that people who knew Reade in the 1990s were now corroborating the fact that she had told them about the assault shortly after it happened. You see, if everyone else is reporting that it’s raining outside, you look rather imbecilic if you lock yourself in a windowless room and keep claiming that it’s a sunny day.
In short, The Washington Post didn’t begin to give the Reade-Biden story anything more than an occasional obligatory glance, until it was absolutely forced to do so. That’s because The Washington Post is not a newspaper. It is a demonstrably worthless, politicized rag whose sole purpose is to propagandize on behalf of Democrats and left-wing politics. Aside from that, it is a paper of considerable utility for anyone who needs to wrap a fish, ignite some kindling, soak up some grease, line the bottom of a bird cage, or swat a cockroach in the bathroom. Certainly, no one can deny that The Post has its uses.
The Post’s Kavanaugh Stories Were Overwhelmingly Anti-Kavanaugh & Anti-Trump.
Before we examine the substance and tenor of The Post’s Kavanaugh-related stories, let us first briefly recollect the allegations that three separate women brought against Kavanaugh about 19 months ago:
- In mid-September 2018, Christine Blasey Ford claimed that during a party at an undisclosed location 36 years earlier, an intoxicated 17-year-old Kavanaugh had held her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and groping her, until another boy who was present jumped onto that same bed and caused Ford and Kavanaugh to topple off, giving the girl an opportunity to flee the scene. Her evolving recollections of that party included a very long list of contradictions, bald-faced lies, and unverifiable claims.
- On September 23, 2018, a woman named Deborah Ramirez made a second allegation against Kavanaugh, claiming that during a dorm room party at Yale University 35 years earlier, a laughing, inebriated 18-year-old Kavanaugh had thrust his penis toward her face and caused her to touch it without her consent. Yet Ramirez acknowledged that she was not actually certain that it was Kavanaugh who had done this. Moreover, every person whom Ramirez named as having been present in the room when the alleged incident happened, denied that it had ever occurred.
Also on September 23, 2018, a third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forth to claim that 36 or 37 years earlier, a 16- or 17-year-old Kavanaugh had been among a contingent of boys who routinely attended parties where they spiked girls’ drinks and then took turns gang-raping them. The Wall Street Journal contacted “dozens of former classmates and colleagues” and was unable to find anyone who could corroborate Swetnick’s allegations. The woman’s story then fell apart completely when, during an NBC interview, she contradicted major parts of her sworn statement and conceded that she could not be sure if Kavanaugh was actually guilty of anything at all.
Following Ms. Ford’s initial public statement, The Washington Post raced to print the first of what would become more than 760 stories about Kavanaugh and the allegations against him. Below is a sampling of just a few of those stories. Each listing begins with the date of the article or opinion piece, followed by the title in bold italics, followed by a brief excerpt from the text in order to convey some sense of the story’s tone and content.
Sept. 15: We need the fullest possible airing of the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh:
“Failing to conduct an adequate investigation would leave both the Senate and the Supreme Court … under a lingering cloud.”
Sept. 16: Kavanaugh’s accuser steps forward:
“Certain facts add to [Ford’s] credibility…. Will [Republicans] be dutiful partisans or act like responsible members of an equal branch of government?”
Sept. 16: This is the Kavanaugh mess we feared:
“[T]he American people should understand just who this justice is, how the investigation of him was rigged and how his elevation to the Supreme Court has sullied the institution.”
Sept. 17: Now that his accuser has spoken out, is Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination in danger?:
“As far as tracing decades-old sexual harassment allegations go, Ford’s story is remarkably credible.”
Sept. 17: The storm brewing in Trump’s muted response to Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser:
“President Trump has made a habit of doubting women who accuse him and his allies of misconduct.”
Sept. 17: Brett Kavanaugh is accused of sexual assault. Here’s why Republicans are hesitating to pause his nomination:
“This allegation is serious and credible, and yet it’s notable that there’s no sign (yet) Republicans will pause the nomination over it.”
Sept. 17: Kavanaugh’s accuser should have spoken up sooner? Give me a break:
“His legal record indicates he would, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, use his power to do his best to enshrine the values and laws of an earlier era — one where it will be harder, if not impossible, for women to control their own bodies, and where employers can treat employees with impunity.”
Sept. 20: Brett Kavanaugh’s most dubious character witness:
“Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh made a fateful decision over the summer in accepting a White House nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court.… With the association comes slime…. A Supreme Court nominee couldn’t ask for a more dubious character reference than this president of the United States.”
Sept. 20: Fairness left the GOP long ago. Is decency gone, too?:
“By now, we should know not to expect fairness from this Republican leadership, which richly deserves to be voted out of power.”
Sept. 22: Ford runs circles around hapless Republicans, who now have a second scandal:
“Even if they had tried, Republicans could have not done a better job demonstrating their bias, ineptitude, unseriousness, meanness, unfairness and general lack of empathy.”
Sept. 23: The Republican Party has laid itself bare:
“If you assumed that these Republicans cared about character, or that the concerns of women matter to them in any way, it’s time to revise that assumption.”
Sept. 24: The staggering hypocrisy of Brett Kavanaugh:
“The allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and now Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Ramirez … indicate, to use Kavanaugh’s own words, a possible ‘pattern of behavior.’”
Sept. 25: This is Trump’s most insulting — and revealing — lie about Brett Kavanaugh yet:
“Trump’s view that he and people like him should be able to do whatever they like with impunity has stained and corrupted the process of selecting a new Supreme Court justice from top to bottom.”
Sept. 27: I hope you cried:
“Christine Blasey Ford’s courage is the courage of every woman who has had to live with the trauma a man has inflicted on her.”
Sept. 27: Just how low can Republican senators go?:
“Christine Blasey Ford was the soul of credibility, which should be no surprise. She is a PhD psychologist in the middle of a distinguished career. Her voice was both strong and vulnerable as she recounted the details of the sexual assault she says she suffered more than 35 years ago at the clumsy, drunken hands of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. She didn’t sound like a partisan. She sounded like a determined survivor.”
Sept. 28: Brett Kavanaugh, disrobed:
“Brett M. Kavanaugh proved himself unfit to serve on the Supreme Court…. His testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was a howl of partisan rage [and] revealed him to be a political hack more than a jurist.”
Oct. 2: Brett Kavanaugh’s lies are part of the Republican ecosystem:
“Brett M. Kavanaugh is a liar…. Kavanaugh’s tall tales are part of a larger ecosystem. The Republican Party, as part of its quest for power, has been waging a battle with the truth for decades.”
Oct. 3: The news this week confirms it: Donald Trump is the worst person ever to be president:
“Trump attacked Ford for not remembering all the details of the trauma that she says she suffered…. His heartless japery was greeted with laughter from his cult followers…. Trump is far less effective a president than Bill Clinton … Yet Republicans are willing to forgive him far more than Democrats ever forgave Clinton. For the GOP, loyalty to its odious leader trumps everything else, even the most basic dictates of humanity.”
How The Post Has Covered the Current Allegations Against Joe Biden.
Before we examine how The Washington Post has covered the recent sex-assault charges against Biden, let us briefly review the relevant facts:
On March 25, 2020, podcaster Katie Halper interviewed Tara Reade, a committed Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, and whose first two choices for president in 2020 were Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. In the interview, Reade, who worked as a Senate assistant for Joe Biden for about eight months in 1992-93, said that one day in the spring of ’93 Biden had pushed her up against a wall, reached up underneath her skirt, inserted two of his fingers into her vagina, and asked her: “Do you want to go somewhere else?”
Not long after she had been violated in this way by Biden, says Reade, she recounted the incident to her brother and to a female friend — both of whom today confirm that Reade did in fact tell them the story of Biden’s transgression many years ago.
Reade also says that she described the assault, soon after it happened, to a therapist and to her own mother. At least part of this claim is corroborated by the fact that in 1993 Reade’s mother called then-CNN host Larry King to seek on-air advice on how she might be able to help her daughter deal with an injustice she had suffered in her Capitol Hill workplace. An audio recording of that phone call has been recovered by the Media Research Center.
Two additional women — former neighbor Lynda LaCasse and former co-worker Lorraine Sanchez — have also come forward to verify the fact that Reade told them about the Biden incident in the 1990s. LaCasse describes herself as “a very strong Democrat” who is “for Biden, regardless” of what he did to Reade.
It is arguable that the allegations against Biden, if true, are far more serious than those aimed at Kavanaugh because: (a) the incident is not said to have occurred when Biden was a drunken teenager at a dorm party, but rather, when he was a sober 51-year-old man who had already been a U.S. senator for 20 years; (b) Biden is accused of having actually penetrated the woman’s vagina with his fingers; and (c) Biden is currently running for election to the highest political office in the land.
As noted earlier, The Washington Post did not even mention Reade’s allegations against Biden until 18 days after she had gone public with them. Moreover, what is particularly striking about the mere handful of stories that The Post published about the allegations during the five weeks immediately following Reade’s initial public statement, is that those stories spent just as much time trying to soften or discredit the claims against Biden, as they spent on laying out the details of the case. Let’s take a look at a few of these stories, the first of which appeared on April 12:
April 12: Sexual assault allegation by former Biden Senate aide emerges in campaign, draws denial:
Aside from its description of Tara Reade’s charges against Biden, this news article also reserves some space for information that is clearly designed to drag President Trump into the narrative and smear him — even though he had nothing whatsoever to do with the Reade-Biden incident. Here’s what The Post says:
“The former vice president [Biden] has been accused of unwanted hugging and other physical contact, but The Post found no other allegations against him as serious as Reade’s. More than a dozen women, by contrast, have accused Trump of forced kissing, groping or sexual assault, and he has been recorded on audio boasting about grabbing women between their legs.”
“Near the end of the 2016 campaign, The Post uncovered a 2005 videotape in which Trump bragged that because of his fame he could grab women between the legs, comments he dismissed later as ‘locker-room banter.’ In the days after that audio was published, about a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct going back decades. Their stories ranged from Trump groping their breasts and buttocks to him kissing them without consent on the lips. Trump called the women liars. More recently, he has denied a New York writer’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room more than two decades ago.”
The article also devotes considerable space to quotes by people who express doubt about the veracity of Tara Reade’s claims.
One was Marianne Baker, a former executive assistant to Biden, who describes the allegations as “clearly false.”
Biden’s former chief of staff Ted Kaufman and former deputy chief of staff Dennis Toner are both quoted as saying that they have no recollection of Reade or of her complaint.
Melissa Lefko, who was a Biden staff assistant in 1993, says “there was never anything like that” in “the culture of working on the Hill at that time for Biden.”
Biden’s current deputy campaign manager and communications director is quoted as saying: “Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women. He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act…. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”
Further, the article quotes Tara Reade as having occasionally praised Biden in recent years. For example:
“She occasionally has tweeted positively about Biden, saying in 2017, ‘My old boss speaks truth. Listen’ with a link to a BBC story about Biden calling for the tech industry to help fight cancer.”
“Reade told The Post in a recent interview that she tweeted support of him because she admired some things about Biden despite the alleged assault. ‘Here’s the person I admire, who stands for all I believe in,’ she said.”
On the other hand, the article at one point seemingly tries to discredit Reade by referencing “her effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin,” whom she had once described as a “compassionate, caring, visionary leader.”
Three additional stories which The Post has published about Reade’s allegations against Biden are listed below. Under each date and title is an excerpt from the text of the story:
April 15: The problems Tara Reade’s allegation runs us into:
“[Reade’s] story has no witnesses…. Biden has built his record on women’s rights, and … he stands in a broader sense for what most Democrats think is right and just. Or at least, he stands for it better than almost any Republican … [especially] President Trump — who embodies everything abhorrent in his political and public self but also in his personal ‘grab them by the p—y’ past.”
April 15: Assessing Tara Reade’s allegations:
“[Christine Blasey] Ford did not strike me as a person who was coming forward because of political motivations or because she wanted publicity — anything but. Reade seems a much different and less reliable figure.… My gut says that what Reade alleges did not happen.”
April 28: On Biden and the Tara Reade allegation, do our normal standards apply?:
“[E]ven if you find Reade credible, it is perfectly defensible to vote for Biden anyway, as I myself am planning to do come November…. [It is important] to protect victims of abuse, protecting them very much includes getting the Republic out of the hands of our current fool of a president.”
If a particular story — however false, far-fetched, or unverifiable — has the potential to harm President Trump or conservative agenda priorities, The Washington Post will devote unlimited financial and manpower resources to keeping Americans’ attention firmly fixed upon it for as long as possible.
By contrast, if another story — however plausible or widely corroborated by credible witnesses — has the potential to harm a key political figure to whom the Democratic Party has hitched its star, The Post will do everything within its power to bury, whitewash, soften, or discredit that story.
It isn’t even debatable. The Washington Post is not a newspaper. It’s a comic book, minus the gravitas.