On Sunday evening, The Washington Post published an article that examined Tara Reade, the woman who has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her by pushing his fingers under her skirt and inside her. In the article, the Post attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Reade’s claim by noting, among other things, that last year Reade discussed the incident but only said Biden had touched her neck and shoulders; that she had become a vocal supporter of Biden’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders; that the Post “found no other allegations against him as serious as Reade’s”; that Reade had filed a police complaint last Thursday but had not named Biden; that Reade had claimed she had informed a therapist about the alleged assault but had not come forth with the therapist’s notes when the Post asked for them, and that although Reade said that in 1993 she filed a complaint with a congressional human resources or personnel office, she could not currently remember the exact name of the office and “the Post could find no record of the complaint, and Reade said she never received a copy.”
The Post’s seeming attempt to invalidate the legitimacy of Reade’s complaint infuriated actress Rose McGowan, a leading figure in the #MeToo movement who had been one of the chief accusers of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. McGowan tweeted a fiery post targeting the Post, writing, “This is not journalism, this is an agenda. This is a hit piece. You’ve sunk to a new low in slanted journalism and victim shaming @Washington Post.”
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) April 13, 2020
The notion that the Post had a political agenda and thus targeted Reade in order to support Biden gains credibility since in the middle of the article, the Post suddenly inserts a paragraph targeting President Trump. The Post uses the excuse of noting, “The 2020 presidential campaign will be the first since the #MeToo movement in late 2017 began inspiring women to share stories of abuse by powerful men.” Then the Post segues to this:
Near the end of the 2016 campaign, The Post uncovered a 2005 videotape in which Trump bragged that because of his fame he could grab women between the legs, comments he dismissed later as “locker-room banter.” In the days after that audio was published, about a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct going back decades. Their stories ranged from Trump groping their breasts and buttocks to him kissing them without consent on the lips. Trump called the women liars. More recently, he has denied a New York writer’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room more than two decades ago.
The Post does note various factors in Reade’s favor, but then mitigates the effect; examples include Reade claiming she had told her mother about the alleged assault but her mother had died in 2016 and that Reade said she had told a friend but the friend “declined to be named in this report.” The Post cited Reade’s brother, Collin Moulton, texting that he remembered his sister telling him that Biden had put his hand “under her clothes.” But the Post wrote that prior to that, Moulton had only said in an interview that she told him in 1993 that Biden had touched her neck and shoulders.
The Post buttressed their seeming attack on Reade by writing, “In interviews with a half-dozen former Biden staffers who overlapped with Reade, many were hesitant to cast doubt on an individual woman’s account but said Reade’s story did not match their experience in a tightknit office with high-ranking female staffers. None of those reached by The Post recalled witnessing Biden putting his hands on Reade …”
The Post concluded the article with this:
Reade told The Post in a recent interview that she tweeted support of him because she admired some things about Biden despite the alleged assault. “Here’s the person I admire, who stands for all I believe in,” she said. “At the same time, that’s what happened to me personally.”
The Post’s attitude toward Reade is distinctly different from its attitude toward Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The Post published an opinion piece in September 2018 stating, “Just as we treat Kavanaugh with respect when referring to him, we should afford Ford the same respect. She, like Kavanaugh, needs to be seen to be fairly heard.”
When discussing therapist’s notes from Blasey Ford, The Post wrote:
The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part.
The Post even titled one piece, “Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford moved 3,000 miles to reinvent her life. It wasn’t far enough.”