George Stephanopoulos held the question until the very end of the interview. It’s an answer Joe Biden has doubtlessly practiced a million times from his Wilmington, Delaware, basement with his handlers looking on. This should have been a slam dunk.
He still managed to absolutely step in it.
In a Tuesday interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Biden said that “women should be believed” — just not Tara Reade, because that “never happened.”
Biden popped out of his basement — at least virtually — for an exclusive appearance on the morning show. There’s a curious coincidence that media analyst Steve Krakauer noted about the event:
It’s…interesting that the only network morning show that didn’t cover @MegynKelly’s Tara Reade interview gets the exclusive with Joe Biden tomorrow. CBS and NBC each aired a clip from the interview on Friday morning. https://t.co/sfErMsvxiY
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) May 11, 2020
“It’s … interesting that the only network morning show that didn’t cover @MegynKelly’s Tara Reade interview gets the exclusive with Joe Biden tomorrow,” he wrote Monday. “CBS and NBC each aired a clip from the interview on Friday morning.”
Whatever the calculus may have been — and one certainly doesn’t want to cast aspersions on ABC News or the presumptive Democratic nominee — someone should have figured out being interviewed by Bill Clinton’s former press secretary on a show that wouldn’t cover the Megyn Kelly/Tara Reade interview wouldn’t exactly be difficult.
The first few questions weren’t so much softball as tee-ball, as you can see.
They moved onto Michael Flynn going free, again tee-ball stuff — until Biden said he didn’t know anything about the move to investigate Flynn when, as Stephanopoulos pointed, out, numerous reports have him at a Jan. 5, 2017 White House meeting where the Flynn investigation was discussed.
After playing with his earpiece in the way a movie-villain president would when caught in a lie, he said he thought the question had to do with whether he’d had anything to do with Flynn’s prosecution.
Well, whatever. The interview continued in that mostly effortless vein until he was asked, at the very end, whether he had anything to say about the sexual assault allegation lodged against him.
“On these allegations from Tara Reade, I know you’ve denied them, but you’ve also said that women should be believed,” Stephanopoulos said.
“So what do you say to Americans who believe Tara Reade and won’t vote for you because of it?”
“Well, that’s their right,” Biden began.
“Look here, look — I think women should be believed. They should have an opportunity to have their case and state it — just forthrightly, what their case is. Then it’s the responsibility of responsible journalists like you and everyone else to go out and investigate those. At the end of the day, the truth is the truth.
“That’s what should prevail, and the truth is this never happened. This never happened. I assure you. That’s the truth,” he concluded.
So, just so we’re clear:
1. It’s your right not to vote for him if you believe he’s sexually assaulted a woman.
2. Women should be believed.
3. Being believed is defined as “an opportunity to have their case and state it — just forthrightly, what their case is.”
4. Then responsible journalists, being responsible for responsibly reporting the case should responsibly report the truth.
5. The truth is this never happened, unlike what Tara Reade said.
I don’t expect people to be wholly themselves in the face of a sexual assault allegation. Look at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, which we have been doing these past few weeks, for obvious reasons.
Kavanaugh’s anger on the stand was seen as a sign of his guilt. Was it? Or was it indicative of a man who’s fighting for his reputation against a false sexual assault allegation?
The problem with Biden’s verbal infelicity on the subject of Tara Reade is that it contradicts so much Democratic dogma.
Democrats have talked about transparency, at least with Trump in the White House. When asked to open his records at the University of Delaware, Biden demurred, saying there were no personnel records in there.
Speaking of transparency, consider how long it took him to personally answer the allegations — over a month.
Now he’s saying women should be believed, just not this one.
The seven-minute interview Stephanopoulos had with Biden contained shockingly little about the Reade allegations — proof that, at the very least, this gave Biden the best chance of answering the Tara Reade allegation head-on without incurring any damage.
He still managed to mess it up, doubling down on rhetoric about believing women while putting an asterisk next to Reade’s story and changing the definition of what “believe” really means.
The American voters will likely be the ones who will have to pass judgment on whether or not to believe Tara Reade and vote for Biden. Answers like this aren’t going to help him.
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