On April 26th, 2020 a video from 1993 resurfaced regarding Tara Reade, a former aide to the now-likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, in which her mother accuses him of sexually assaulting her daughter. The video, a clip from “Larry King Live,” depicts an anonymous woman from San Luis Obispo, California calling in and saying, “I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all. And the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”
Host Larry King then inquires, “She has a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?”
The caller replies, “That’s true.”
Reade has confirmed that the caller was, in fact, her mother. In March of this year, Reade accused Biden of penetrating her without her consent. In April of 2019, she told reporters that Biden had touched her in an inappropriate manner while she was working as his aide without alluding to this alleged assault. Before the video resurfaced, Reade did maintain that her mother had called in to the show but did not remember the date.
In the transcript for the show as well as in the video clip, the caller does not bring up sexual harassment or sexual assault but does reference an anonymous “prominent senator”.
The Biden campaign has not yet addressed the video specifically, but it has previously denied Reade’s allegations. In the past, multiple women have brought forth accusations that Biden inappropriately touched them, but Reade remains the only person to have accused him of sexual assault.
With this new information coming to light, Donald Trump supporters have pounced on Biden and fellow Democrats’ insistence on believing women’s claims, calling them hypocrites. Many of these Democrats had deemed Trump unfit to run for office because of sexual assault allegations against him.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is widely speculated to be on the shortlist to accompany Biden on the Democratic ticket come November, simply said that “all women in these cases have the right to be heard and have their claims thoroughly reviewed.” She went on to point out that throughout his campaign, Biden has worked to combat violence against women and domestic abuse.
Biden will be running against the incumbent President Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by around 25 women. However, while this will probably not prevent Trump from using the allegations as an attack against Biden as he has done before, bringing up allegations of sexual assault during a debate will surely diminish the credibility of both sides. The Democratic Party has historically held itself to a higher standard than their Republican counterparts regarding issues of race and gender, so this accusation is likely to be a bigger factor in Democrats’ voting decisions compared to Republicans. At the same time, the party has been continuing the rhetoric of replacing Trump in the White House, urging progressive Bernie Sanders supporters to vote for Biden even though he’s a much more moderate candidate.
This news, however, could arguably not come at a better time for Biden. In the midst of a pandemic with unemployment skyrocketing and hundreds of thousands of people sick, a political scandal concerning an election that will take place months from now is not the most pressing issue for the majority of the American public. In a regular news cycle, this story would likely garner much more attention in newspaper headlines and on national television, but it has been usurped in importance by COVID-19 and its far-reaching consequences. Biden has been mercifully spared by the normally ruthless American mainstream media.
As of May 22, 2020, Reade’s lawyer, Doug Widor, said his firm will no longer be representing her. This comes after CNN published an extensive publication that dove into Reade’s allegations, background, and past statements that found many discrepancies. For example, Reade claimed she had obtained a degree from Antioch University in Seattle when in fact the institution countered that she never graduated. Such falsehoods whittle away at Reade’s already shaky credibility and will prove to be beneficial for Biden as the election draws closer.
Democrats are struggling to decide who to believe, especially when the onset of the #MeToo Movement urges that the woman be believed by default. No prominent Democrat has withdrawn their endorsement of Biden as nominee and many have even said they are satisfied with the way Biden’s campaign team has responded to the allegations. Biden addressed women who believed Reade’s testimony, saying, “If they believe Tara Reade, they probably shouldn’t vote for me. I wouldn’t vote for me if I believed Tara Reade.” Biden’s approach is one that acknowledges the allegations made and respects the woman speaking out, but also maintains that these women’s stories be vetted before any action is taken. This angers Republicans who in the past have had to deal with Democrats’ normal standard wherein all women are immediately believed, such as in the case of Trump or Brett Kavanaugh.
While polls show around four in ten of the American public believes that the allegations are probably true, among this group Biden still receives one in three votes for president. This shows that even if the allegations are true, there is a sizable amount of voters whose disdain for Trump or support for Biden overrides however they may feel regarding the allegations. The reasoning behind this is difficult to discern, but it may be because, in the age of Trump where a sitting president faces numerous allegations of sexual assault, many voters have simply become desensitized to such heinous accusations.
Categories: Domestic Affairs