For the Biden campaign, this cut’s going to hurt.
A day after the liberal website BuzzFeed News broke a story that former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign operatives had issued talking points to help fellow Democrats fend off questions about a sexual assault allegation by former Biden staffer Tara Reade, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee took a hit from an unexpected source.
The New York Times, the main source of the talking points’ defense, issued a statement Wednesday that cut out the heart of the talking points’ argument.
“BuzzFeed reported on the existence of talking points being circulated by the Biden campaign that inaccurately suggest a New York Times investigation found that Tara Reade’s allegation ‘did not happen,’” The Times statement said, according to Fox News. “Our investigation made no conclusion either way.”
A New York Times spokesperson says Biden campaign talking points “inaccurately” suggest that the Times investigation found that Tara Reade’s allegation “did not happen.” Response to this scoop from @rubycramer @RosieGray https://t.co/ZUD6f2WSEE pic.twitter.com/LNaHvH0ZxF
— Jonathan Easley (@JonEasley) April 29, 2020
“As Buzzfeed correctly reported, our story found three former Senate aides whom Reade said she complained to contemporaneously, all of whom either did not remember the incident or said that it did not happen,” The Times stated.
“The story also included former interns who remembered Reade suddenly changing roles and no longer overseeing them, which took place during the same time period Reade said she was abruptly reassigned. The Times also spoke to a friend who said Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time; another friend and Reade’s brother say she told them of a traumatic incident involving Biden.”
What’s particularly noteworthy about the statement isn’t just that the country’s “newspaper of record” – the ludicrously biased virtual Bible of American liberals – had repudiated what could be an important argument for the man who for all intents and purposes is the Democratic nominee for president.
It’s that The Times executive editor has already publicly admitted that the newspaper had tailored its story about the Reade allegation to suit the Biden campaign, shortening a crucial sentence to delete references to reports that Biden had engaged in “hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable.”
That’s a travesty of journalism all by itself. But apparently there are limits to how far even The New York Times will go in service to the liberal cause – at least when the newspaper has already been embarrassed by publicity.
That’s bad news for all Democrats in an election year. But it might be even worse for aspiring vice-presidential candidates like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Both have specifically cited The Times “investigation” as a reason to believe the Biden campaign’s denial of Reade’s claim that Biden sexually assaulted her in the nation’s Capitol in 1993.
The Times’ response to the BuzzFeed story lit up social media. Of course, there were plenty of liberals who used it to tee off on President Donald Trump, but there always are.
As plenty of other comments noted, though, there’s no denying that the latest development doesn’t look good for Biden.
Didn’t NYT edit their story at the behest of the Biden campaign?
How much longer now will the Biden campaign use NYT as a talking point?
— Clammy Matilde (@clammymatilde) April 29, 2020
In a normal society, this would warrant a headline in and of itself.
BREAKING. Joe Biden Releases Untruthful Talking Points To Discredit Sexual Assault Allegation
— Fritz (@fritzduuds) April 29, 2020
This is so pathetic and manipulative of Biden’s campaign to try and hide behind a NYT article that did not exonerate him. Hillary Clintonesque.
— Bad John Brown (@BadJohnBrown) April 29, 2020
As has been noted, The Times story – published in the April 12 newspaper, 19 days after Reade’s assault accusation first became public – was less an “investigation” of the allegation than a whitewash clearly intended to make readers believe the assault never happened.
In fact, given the Biden campaign’s use of the story as a talking point, it almost looked like it could have been arranged in advance.
However, it turns out the Biden campaign went too far in advising fellow Democrats to claim The Times actually made that finding formally.
It’s important to remember that the Reade allegation is just that – an allegation. And Biden deserves the presumption of innocence that liberals would never afford a high-profile conservative confronted with a similar accusation. (The ugliness of the coverage around the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination battle made that point indelibly.)
Still, The Times statement does more than breathe new life into a story Biden and millions of Democrats no doubt hope will disappear.
For all liberals, a Times repudiation of a Democratic presidential campaign’s talking points had to come as a surprise.
For Democrats like Klochubar and Abrams, who relied on the same Times story cited by the talking points, the repudiation is humiliating.
For the Biden campaign, though, it’s a cut that goes deep enough to hurt – badly.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.