It’s April 1, which means it’s time for a bunch of April Fool’s stories to be buried within your favorite publication. You may even think this is one of them. I certainly thought the source article was when I took a glance at it.
But, nope. The Washington Post’s “Joe Biden’s affectionate, physical style with women comes under scrutiny” sounds serious enough, but what’s within will either have you laughing or in paroxysms of outrage. Possibly both.
So for those of you who are late to the story, Biden’s long-term habit of being overly, um, “affectionate” with women finally caught up with him last week when a former Democrat candidate accused him of improper behavior at a 2014 rally in a piece for New York Magazine last Friday.
“Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ‘Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?’” former Nevada lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores wrote.
“I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f—? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?’ He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”
“Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful,” she wrote later in the piece. “I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.”
Some mainstream media outlets ignored it, like CNN and MSNBC, who devoted 0 minutes to it on Friday. Some, like Vox, felt that Biden was in for a reckoning, warning that the media wouldn’t give Biden a pass for this kind of behavior. And others, like the WaPo, gave him a pass for the behavior!
The piece, which took no less than four writers, makes it clear from the beginning that this is a borderline apologia for the former vice president and 2020 Democrat front-runner’s behavior.
“In some of the photos, Joe Biden is behind the women, his hands on their shoulders, as he whispers in their ears. He embraces Hillary Clinton, his hands around her torso. He kisses a young girl’s head, his fingers framing her face, as she looks blankly toward the camera,” they write.
“This affectionate and sometimes intimate physical style is one of the former vice president’s trademarks, a defining feature of the warm and upbeat persona he has built during more than four decades in the national spotlight. (Emphasis ours.) But the appropriateness of Biden’s physical behavior toward women is now being questioned, after a female Democratic politician penned a viral Internet piece describing an alleged 2014 encounter that left her offended and uncomfortable.”
I’m sorry, ¿que? “Warm and upbeat persona?”
In 2015, by the way, the WaPo was so taken by this “warm and upbeat persona” in regards to this that they did a piece about a mock intervention after his, erm, uncomfortable moment on camera Stephanie Carter, the wife of new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. It was titled “What are we going to do about creepy Uncle Joe Biden?”
Former VP Joe Biden doesn’t just target little girls. Watch as he grabs onto the shoulder’s of Ashton Carter’s wife, Stephanie, smelling her hair. She’s clearly surprised by his awkward behavior. pic.twitter.com/nerOikRQcZ
— Richard Armande Mills (RAM) (@RAMRANTS) November 13, 2017
The WaPo’s Alexandra Petri sardonically described the mock intervention that followed.
Joe Biden rises from his chair and goes to stand behind Sasha, leaning over her and whispering, “You know, I have a lot of friends in your community, including a very dear colleague of mine, Barack America.”
“THIS IS THE WORST,” Sasha says. “DAD MAKE HIM STOP.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do!” President Obama says.
Malia has taken a picture. “Look at this,” she says. “Does Sasha look comfortable at all?”
“Yes,” Joe says. “That is the face a young person makes to indicate that she is excited to meet you. It’s like a flesh emoticon. YOLO! Ha ha.”
Now, it’s true that Stephanie Carter published a post on Medium on Sunday that cleared Biden of doing anything inappropriate that day in 2015, but Biden didn’t get his reputation from one picture taken at one event involving one woman.
In the not-joking April Fool’s story, Flores’ allegations aren’t even mentioned until the fourth paragraph and then aren’t even explained in detail until the 12th. That’s five paragraphs after Biden’s denial and nine paragraphs after piffle like this:
“He’s absolutely been an amazing ally on the policy level and on campus sexual assault,” Terri Poore, policy director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, told the WaPo. “But at the same time, nobody gets a pass. Everyone’s behavior is up for conversation.”
Except, as the writers do note, this behavior has been up for conversation for years. There’s the video evidence mentioned above. But the WaPo has an explanation for that: “Though photos attesting to this behavior abound on the Internet, they were often framed in past news accounts as harmless and sometimes entertaining — a sign of ‘Biden being Biden.'”
Yeah, remember all that conversation about Brett Kavanaugh’s beer-drinking habits “as harmless and sometimes entertaining — a sign of ‘Kavanaugh being Kavanaugh?'”
But Biden has an explanation for his “Biden being Biden-ing” — also mentioned before the Flores accusation.
“I’m a tactile politician,” he said in a speech earlier this month. “That gets me in trouble, as well, because I think I can feel and taste what is going on.”
Twitter users weren’t buying that line of thinking, or the WaPo attempt to sell it.
Democracy Dies in Story-Framing Dishonesty
— Razor (@hale_razor) April 1, 2019
While watching the news coverage of this issue this morning, it was so blatant how the media reports it differently when it involves a Democrat (or anyone THEY like). If it was about any Republican, they would spend twice the amount of time on it and make it sound much worse.
— JayLynn (@jaylynn888) April 1, 2019
Creepy Uncle Joe needs to stay out of the spotlight pic.twitter.com/GUJJDDiOwX
— swp4ever (@swp4ever1) April 1, 2019
This is WashPost’s official April Fools’ Day article, right? RIGHT? pic.twitter.com/tpesASAMW5
— Jevaughn Brown 👑+++ (@Jevaughn_Brown) April 1, 2019
No, sadly, it isn’t.
And that’s part of the problem — both for Biden and for how the media’s perceived.
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