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FACT CHECK: Did The New York Times Say Tara Reade’s Accusation Against Biden ‘Was Not Credible’?
Democratic Presidential hopeful former Vice-President Joe Biden speaks at the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO Workers Presidential Summit, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA, on September 17, 2019.
Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Democrat Stacey Abrams claimed during a CNN interview on Tuesday night that The New York Times conducted an investigation into Tara Reade, the former Biden staffer who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of sexual assaulting her in 1993, and concluded that the accusation was not credible.

“The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible,” Abrams claimed. “I believe Joe Biden. … I know Joe Biden, and I think he’s telling the truth and this did not happen.”


So, did The New York Times conclude that Reade’s allegation against Biden was “not credible”?

The answer is no.

Abrams’ remarks line up verbatim with talking points that were sent out by the Biden campaign to its top political supporters stating that The New York Times report “has led to the truth: this incident did not happen.”

The New York Times released a statement on Thursday noting that they did not reach a conclusion on whether Reade’s allegations were credible:

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.” Our investigation made no conclusion either way. 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 story also included former interns who remembered Reade suddenly changing roles and no longer overseeing them, which took place during the same time period that 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 sexual incident involving Biden.

Earlier this month, New York Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote a piece about some controversy that came from The New York Times’ original report in which he asked Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, about the report.

Baquet noted in the article that The New York Times did not make a determination about the credibility of the claims.

“What I think readers should take away from this is that this is a serious allegation made by somebody who has some standing,” Baquet said. “It is denied strenuously by Mr. Biden and his campaign. Here’s everything we know and you have to make your own judgment.”

“Sometimes I think it is OK to tell readers they have to make their own judgment,” Baquet continued. “I understand that people want simple answers, but in my experience editing stories like this, sometimes there aren’t simple answers and sometimes you just have to figure that the reader is sophisticated, thoughtful, will read it, weigh it and make his or her own judgment. And I think in this case, that’s the best we could offer.”

Abrams, a failed Democrat gubernatorial candidate from Georgia, has reportedly been trying to promote herself as a running-mate candidate should the former vice president secure the Democrat nomination for president.

Politico reported this week:

Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia lawmaker and unsuccessful candidate for governor, has been privately calling Democratic power brokers, asking them to tell Biden campaign officials that she should be vice president, according to multiple labor leaders familiar with the discussions.

Overt campaigning for the vice presidency has traditionally been frowned upon, weakening those who appear overly eager or insufficiently deferential to the nominee. And with the exception of Abrams — who has said “I would be an excellent running mate” — most top-shelf candidates this year have been guarded about their ambitions, even as they position themselves for a potential selection.

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