The media’s ineffective attack on Tara Reade’s sex harassment claim

In his CNN interview about Tara Reade’s allegation of sexual assault, Joe Biden told Mika Brzezinski that he wasn’t attacking Reade. Instead, he was just saying the alleged assault didn’t happen.

Biden knew that he didn’t have to attack Reade. The mainstream media and his other Democratic allies would do that work for him.

Now, they have. They are “attacking the victim” in ways that would outrage feminists and #MeToo types if the accuser were alleging sexual harassment by a figure they didn’t want to see in office.

Other than the hypocrisy of it all, I have no problem with trying to discredit Reade by delving deeply into her past. Contrary to what Biden said after Christine Blasey Ford made her claim against Brett Kavanaugh, when a woman waits decades to go public with allegations of sexual harassment, her claims should not be presumed to have a basis in fact. They should be presumed false. And in determining whether that presumption is overcome, the accuser’s past should be scrutinized.

The problem with what Biden’s allies have come up with in Reade’s case isn’t that they are attacking the victim. The problem is that their attacks don’t tend to show that Reade’s claim is false.

The main attack on Reade is that, in recent years, she became a chiseler. Allegedly, she told people that she was down on her luck and took advantage of their good will to skip rent payments and avoid paying bills and debts. In short, they say, Reade is manipulative.

Reade’s attorney responded to the criticism of his client by saying:

If the assertion is that someone. . .has lied to their landlord because they don’t have the money to pay rent, so then they lied about a sexual assault, I don’t think that is fair journalism.

Any bona fide feminist would surely agree with that statement. Lying to get a roof over one’s head is very different from inventing a claim of sexual harassment.

Even so, I would probably give some weight to this apples to oranges comparison if Reade were making her sexual assault allegation for the first time in the same period during which she was lying to avoid paying rent, etc.

But she’s not. Reade complained about sexual misconduct by Biden, including assault, long before she allegedly cheated some of her neighbors.

The attacks on Reade as a chiseler and manipulator are based on her alleged behavior in recent years — mostly on incidents from the past few years when, apparently, Reade faced serious financial hardship. The fact that Reade became manipulative in that period of time doesn’t tend to show that in the mid-1990s, when she was complaining about Biden to family members, friends, and the man she would marry, she lied.

When Reade complained to her boyfriend about Biden, she was neither down on her luck nor pretending to be. She was young, attractive, and had a good job. In fact, she was still working for Biden.

Was she trying to “manipulate” her boyfriend by inventing a tale of sexual harassment? Possibly. But to what end? The guy clearly was attracted to her, and for good reason. I doubt that Reade needed to complain about sexual harassment to advance the relationship. And she certainly wasn’t trying to lay the ground work for derailing Biden nearly 30 years later.

Similar logic applies to her complaints to family members. For what manipulative purpose would she lie to her brother and mother by inventing a tale of sexual harassment? To explain her departure from Biden’s employ? Possibly. But if she wanted to cover up being dismissed by Biden (assuming that’s what happened) by lying, she could have said she quit for any number of reasons.

And what of the friends to whom Reade complained about Biden in the mid 1990s? What reason would Reade have had to tell them a tale like that? How did this advance her interests? No obvious manipulative reason comes to my mind.

Indeed, if Reade had been out for personal gain, her best move would have been to try and sell her story to someone. Biden was a prominent public figure from time Reade left his office until 2016. Yet, as far as I know, Reade never tried to cash in during that period.

Finally, let’s address the statements by Reade’s unhappy neighbors and associates that she spoke highly to them about Biden and certainly never complained about sexual misconduct. As I recall, some of Harvey Weinstein’s victims spoke well of him. How much ice did that cut with feminists?

Moreover, it has never been the standard in these cases that the alleged victim must complain to everyone she meets for decades. When the left is going after someone, a rumor that the alleged victim complained to one person is deemed good enough by feminists, Democrats, and large chunks of the mainstream media.

Finally, to the extent Reade was trying to gain the trust of folks during the past decade through manipulation — and that’s their story — it didn’t serve her interests to speak about Biden disparagingly. Better to tout a positive relationship with him. This fairly obvious point manages to come through in Politico’s “expose” of Reade.

I believe that, more likely than not, Reade experienced some level of sexual harassment from Biden, but that, more likely than not, there was no sexual assault. This is just a guess, though.

It’s more than a guess to say that the response to Reade’s allegation by Democrats, feminists, and many in the media will set the #MeToo and related movements back by something like 30 years. That’s too bad. These movements only deserve to be set back by something like 10.

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