Tara Reade's Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden Is Falling Apart
Political activists urged the media to investigate Tara Reade's allegations against Joe Biden. They did, and Reade is not faring well.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published for Banter Members, but is now available for free. Several readers urged me to publish the piece to a wider audience given the seriousness of Tara Reade’s accusations against Joe Biden. As the story gained attention and began to be heavily politicized by both the far left and far right, I began to agree. I believe it is crucial that media outlets commit to treating the case objectively given the gravity of the allegations, regardless of political affiliation. Tara Reade has a right to be heard, and the media has the right to thoroughly investigate her claims. Unfortunately for Reade and her politically motivated supporters, the objective assessment of her claims has uncovered some extremely concerning inconsistencies.
New information has also come to light that casts further doubt on Tara Reade’s claims that have been added at the end of the piece. As Joan Walsh in The Nation wrote, “To those who hectored the media to investigate the allegations about Biden, believing it would validate Reade’s charges, the old adage applies: Be careful what you wish for.”
The second part in this series is now out for Banter Members:
We spoke to an actual neuroscientist who specializes in cognitive aging and asked for a professional opinion on Joe Biden's cognitive health.
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The Smearing Of Joe Biden Part 1: Why His #MeToo Accuser Is Not Credible
by Ben Cohen
This is a difficult topic for me to write about for a number of reasons. The first is that I was sexually assaulted as a teenager in boarding school, then torn apart in court several years later over inconsistencies in my story. I had originally not revealed the extent of what happened to me due to extreme embarrassment and fear the situation would escalate dramatically at a time when I was emotionally not equipped to do so.
Years later, others came forward to reveal abuse at the hands of the school master (far more serious than my own), and I agreed to testify and tell my story in front of a jury. I decided to tell the whole truth even though I knew it could derail the case. The defense lawyer tore me to pieces, and on that basis the teacher got off and was able to continue a career teaching children. It was a truly humiliating, deeply unpleasant experience that I would not wish on anyone.
As a result of my experience and the stunning uncovering of sexual trauma in the wake of the #MeToo movement, I believe there be an enormous amount of latitude given to survivors of sexual assault. They may misremember details, change their story for extremely complex reasons, and not be deemed “reliable” witnesses due to past transgressions. When survivors speak out, they must be listened to, and they must be taken seriously.
Joe Biden’s #MeToo Accuser
Recently, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden was shockingly accused of sexual assault by a woman named Alexandra Tara Reade (pictured above), who briefly worked for him in the Senate in the early 90’s. The assault was said to have taken place in 1993, where Biden allegedly pinned her up against a wall on Capitol Hill, and penetrated her with his fingers.
I was stunned by the allegation and immediately took it very seriously. I did as much research as I could into the story and began thinking Biden’s history of inappropriate touching was far, far more serious than we had been led to believe. Perhaps he wasn’t just an older man who didn’t understand social boundaries in the same way we do now — perhaps he was a sexual predator who had assaulted women he had power over. Was this the man Democrats wanted facing off against Donald Trump? Would we be voting to replace one sexual predator with another?
The more I looked into the case however, the more troubled I became by Reade and the timing of the allegation. I do not necessarily believe Reade is lying, but there are several factors in this story that severely undermine her credibility as a witness. Joe Biden has strenuously denied the allegations made against him, and in this case I think it is clear that he should be given the benefit of the doubt.
What immediately caught my attention when Reade’s story broke was where the story broke. The pro Bernie Sanders media has a long, long track record of dishonest reporting, and the fact that they were promoting this story so feverishly gave me pause. I have learned over the years to immediately distrust journalism coming from ideological outlets on all sides of the spectrum in America. The far left and far right have ideological axes to grind, and their reporting should be scrutinized meticulously.
Reade had made an earlier claim to about Biden’s inappropriate behavior in April of 2019 in The Union, a local California newspaper. She originally stated that Biden had made her feel uncomfortable when she worked as his Senate aide in 1993. Biden would, Reade claimed, “touch me on the shoulder or hold his hand on my shoulder running his index finger up my neck during a meeting." There was no mention of digital penetration or no hint that Biden had sexually assaulted her.
A year later, Reade dramatically changed her story in a podcast interview with journalist and ardent Bernie Sanders supporter Katie Halper. Reade’s new charges against Biden were far, far more serious, and immediately propagated by far left (and far right) activists who believed them without vetting Reade or investigating her past.
The fact that mainstream outlets did not pick up the story was also apparently proof that centrist liberals were covering for Biden and shamefully silencing Reade:
Democracy Now! @democracynowTara Reade, a former staffer in Joe Biden's Senate office, says he sexually assaulted her in 1993. "I actually tried to tell this story to some extent in 1993," she says. "But I was too afraid." https://t.co/YHzlHyyGmy
While I was extremely sympathetic to Reade and wanted to believe her story, the militancy with which far left activists were running with the accusation troubled me. I’ve been covering the far left and far right for so long now that whenever they claim have an airtight story proving malfeasance on the part of Democrats/the media/centrists etc, etc, you can be assured that it is almost never the case.
I began looking into Reade’s history to see whether there were any issues that would undermine her story. Unfortunately, there were so many it became almost impossible to take her at her word.
Reade is not a reliable witness
In an extensive, extremely well researched piece on Reade’s inconsistencies, journalists Brian and Eddie Krassenstein (who are brothers) uncovered some deeply concerning facts about Reade. It’s well worth reading the piece in full, but the major inconsistencies that cast serious doubt on her allegations against Biden can be summarized as follows:
1. In 2017, Reade (who was then going by a different name, Tara McCab) praised Biden on multiple occasions for his work on stopping sexual assault.
This consisted of retweeting, liking and sharing articles about Biden’s work with Lady Gaga, and an article in the Huff Post citing Biden encouraging men to take responsibility in stopping violence against women.
While Reade is entitled to change her story, the fact that she was publicly liking and sharing articles specifically endorsing Biden for his work on sexual assault just two years before accusing him of sexual assault is extremely concerning.
2. Reade changed her story on why she left Washington DC multiple times.
In 2009, Reade claimed she left DC because her husband Tate had received a job offer for a Congressman in the midwest.
In a now deleted article, Reade then claimed in 2018 that she left DC because she felt she was more of an artist, hated “American Imperialism”, and loved Russia “with all my heart”.
A year later, Reade changed her story again and claimed on Twitter that she left because Joe Biden fired her.
3. Reade has an extremely bizarre, completely inconsistent position on Russia that coincides with her inconsistencies on Joe Biden
In 2017, Reade consistently shared stories on Twitter condemning Russia for its interference in the US election (for example, Reade retweeted Kamala Harris’s call for an investigation into Russia’s involvement with the Trump campaign, and retweeted an extensive Mother Jones article outlining the links deeply troubling links between Trump and Russia).
In 2018, Reade did an astonishing about turn and began retweeting and publishing her own pro-Russian articles (now deleted), and fawning over Vladimir Putin. In one particularly bizarre article she wrote:
“President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity. It is evident that he loves his country, his people and his job…. President Putin’s obvious reverence for women, children and animals, and his ability with sports is intoxicating to American women”
The Krassenstein brothers noted also noted that:
In March of 2019, Reade also published another article, in Russian, that included a celebratory quote from Putin’s press secretary, rejoicing about the conclusions of the Mueller report. This article was also published in English.
Reade’s defense of Russia and Putin appears to have abruptly stopped a week before she came out with her new allegations against Biden. After the accusations against Biden on March 25th, Reade told Vox that she no longer likes Putin after finding out about rampant domestic violence issues in Russia. As the Krassenstein brothers point out, Reade (going under the name Tara McCabe at that point) was well aware of this issue having tweeted about it specifically in 2017:
To summarize: in 2017, Reade was anti Russian and pro Joe Biden. In 2018, Reade begins tweeting and posting pro-Russian propaganda. In 2019, Reade accuses Biden of misconduct (but not sexual assault) while continuing to promote Russian propaganda. In 2020, Reade accuses Biden of sexual assault and then abruptly reverses her position on Russia just days later claiming she didn’t know how the bad domestic violence was there.
What does this mean? It is impossible to say, but the extreme inconsistencies and bizarre nature of Reade’s on and off relationship with both Russia and Joe Biden during this timeframe is troubling to say the least.
The Krassenstein brothers note many other inconsistencies in her story, but these ones stand out and make it, at least in my opinion, impossible to tell whether she is telling the truth about Joe Biden.
There are other aspects of Reade’s story that cast serious doubt on the accuracy of her account. As Salon’s Amanda Marcotte reported:
Reade's story of what happened during her tenure working for Biden has changed over time. In April of 2019, Reade spoke to a local Nevada County paper, claiming Biden "would touch me on the shoulder or hold his hand on my shoulder running his index finger up my neck during a meeting."
She also recounted an incident where she says she was told by staff that she had to serve drinks at a Biden event because he "liked my legs." She told Salon she rejected this request and complained directly to supervisors Marianne Baker and Dennis Toner. Reade says that her complaints led to being sidelined and pushed out of Biden's office. Both Baker and Toner denied to Salon ever having such a conversation with Reade.
Reade, and pro Sanders outlets have also strongly implied that Time's Up Legal Defense Fund rejected her case out of political loyalty to Biden. As Marcotte points out, this is a conspiracy theory with no basis in reality:
In its partnership with the National Women's Law Center, Time's Up connected Reade with a number of lawyers who interviewed her to see if she had a case worth pursuing. None of those lawyers took Reade on as a client.
It's important to understand here that Time's Up Legal Defense Fund only provides support beyond these referrals — such as PR assistance — if a client obtains a lawyer and moves to take legal action on workplace harassment. But Reade told Salon she wasn't interested in suing Biden. Instead, she was angry "about the smears about being a Russian agent" from Biden supporters and was hoping a lawyer could find a way to stop them.
One law firm Reade spoke with confirmed that they would not take a case with the ambiguous goal of trying to shut down people on social media who were speculating about an accuser being a "Russian agent."
Carrie Goldberg runs a firm dedicated to defending women against sexual abuse. Time's Up helped Reade set up a meeting with her. Goldberg told Salon that she would not "comment on who reaches out to our firm for help" but said that "our firm never hesitates to take on powerful adversaries." She said her firm is not, however, in the business of threatening "to sue conspiracy theorists for potentially protected speech."
Salon's discussions with Reade indicated that she was less interested in legal action and more in public relations representation — for "protection" and to handle "being inundated" by phone calls from reporters. After this interview, Reade continued to send messages to Salon indicating her anger over not getting help with PR. (To clarify: That doesn't rule out Reade retaining legal counsel for matters related to her allegations, but at press time she had not done so.) It's important to understand here that the mission of Time's Up Legal Defense Fund is providing support for clients taking action on workplace harassment, who have secured a lawyer, and the PR services are in support of that.
In short, Time’s Up didn’t take up Reade’s case because a) Reade hadn’t hired a lawyer, and b) wasn’t taking legal action against Biden. Her claim that Joe Biden fired her also cannot be taken seriously because a) she has changed the story herself multiple times, and b) multiple witnesses at the time deny it happened.
The mainstream media avoided the story for good reason
Contrary to the claims of journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Nathan J Robinson, mainstream media outlets did not avoid the Tara Reade story because they did not want to damage Joe Biden. They avoided it because Reade is not a reliable witness and the story is completely inconsistent. The reality of it is that Reade’s account falls apart under minimal scrutiny, and any halfway decent journalist would have seen this a mile away. As Marcotte noted:
The story of Reade's allegations against Biden shows what can happen when the rigorous standards espoused by mainstream publications are sidestepped for a more credulous and politicized approach. The failure to vet this story methodically and to preemptively address its odder elements opened the door to a whirlwind of conspiracy theories and misinformation.
The pro-Bernie media has glossed over the glaring holes in Reade’s story for predictable reasons. Credible allegations of sexual assault would severely hurt Joe Biden’s chances in the 2020 election, and pro Bernie outlets have shown a remarkable willingness to spread baseless conspiracy theories on the internet to help their cause. This, it seems, is no different.
I cannot say with certainty that Tara Reade is lying. As a human being, I have sympathy for her and do not want to believe she would lie about something as serious as this. However, I do know that as the editor of a responsible media outlet, I would not have published her story. Reade’s account has too many inconsistencies, and her behavior during the timeline of the story too erratic to take seriously.
Joe Biden has a problem with personal boundaries — an issue he has acknowledged and promised to rectify. But there is no credible evidence he is a sexual predator, and one must be extremely skeptical of anyone claiming otherwise.
UPDATE: Pressure from political activists appears to have spurred The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, CNN, NPR and other outlets to conduct their own investigations into the allegations. Unsurprisingly, they have all noted serious inconsistencies in Reade’s story. New information has also been uncovered, and some of it extremely damning. Here are the most relevant points:
Reade claimed she made a complaint about Biden’s alleged assault to the Senate personnel office. There is no record of this.
Reade claimed that after the assault she complained to Marianne Baker, Biden’s executive assistant, and Biden’s senior aides, Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman, about harassment (but not the assault). Reade has stated that she had multiple conversations and meetings with them specifically about the alleged harassment. Baker, Toner and Kaufman have all strenuously denied Reade spoke to them about this at all. “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” said Marianne Baker in a statement. “I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.”
Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, has also changed his story about the nature of the alleged assault. Reported the Washington Post:
In another recent interview, Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, said she told him in 1993 that Biden had behaved inappropriately by touching her neck and shoulders. Their mother urged Reade to contact the police, Moulton said, adding that he felt “ashamed now for not being a better advocate” for his sister. Several days after that interview, he said in a text message that he recalled her telling him that Biden had put his hand “under her clothes.”
Moulton’s first recollection of what his sister told him in 1993 does not describe sexual assault. The second recollection, given just days later, constitutes serious sexual assault. Given Reade’s mother (whom she claims to have told about the assault) is now deceased and the other witness Reade says she told remains anonymous, we only have Moulton’s word to corroborate the story. Given Moulton has changed his story, it is impossible to take seriously.
Again, it may well transpire that Reade is telling the truth. Thus far though, the evidence strongly suggest otherwise.
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