The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh taught the world no sexual assault accusation is too old or unfounded for serious attention. We should default to believing claims of sexual misconduct unless and until they fall apart under scrutiny.
The accusation against Kavanaugh involved a woman the justice claims he never met. She says they met in 1982 when they attended separate high schools.
Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, could not remember where she was during the alleged assault. Ford could not produce a witness to confirm she and Kavanaugh met. The two witnesses she identified denied knowledge of the party at which the alleged offense occurred.
Despite no shred of evidence to support claims from nearly 40 years ago, Ford’s story played out for weeks on all major news networks and the front pages of newspapers.
After then-candidate Donald Trump boasted in 2016 of grabbing women’s genitals, the media rightly highlighted for weeks the claims of multiple women who came forward with complaints involving sexual misconduct and Trump going back to the 1970s. Trump deserved no pass and received no pass.
Out of Ford’s story emerged the “Me Too” movement, which had the positive influence of lessening the stigma associated with exposing past incidents of sexual abuse. Among heavy hitters telling us to believe accusers was former Vice President Joe Biden.
“For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real,” Biden said during the Kavanaugh scandal.
That means we must presume Tara Reade’s complaint is real.
Like Ford, Reade recounts a man sexually assaulting her decades ago. That is where the similarities end.
Reade’s alleged perpetrator was not a teenage boy. He was then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden. Though Ford had no evidence to prove she had met Kavanaugh, Reade worked for Biden.
Though Ford produced no proof suggesting she complained about Kavanaugh in 1982, Reade complained to her mother, a friend, her brother, and several others shortly after the alleged assault in 1993. It was 25 years before the “Me Too” movement, and Reade says she and her mother could not get anyone in the Washington establishment to act on the complaint. Reade’s mother called Larry King on the TV set of CNN in 1993. The mother did not mention sexual assault or Biden, but said her daughter worked for a powerful senator who did something wrong.
“I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington?” Reade’s mother asked King. “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.”
Unlike Ford, who cannot remember where she encountered Kavanaugh, Reade says Biden assaulted her in a Senate office building.
“It happened all at once, and then ... his hands were on me and underneath my clothes,” Reade said during a March interview with podcast host Katie Halper. “He said ‘Come on, man, I heard you liked me. For me, it was like, everything shattered ... I wanted to be a senator; I didn’t want to sleep with one.”
Though none of this provides a slam-dunk case, it amounts to a considerably stronger story than anything the national media and the rest of the Democratic establishment insisted the public believe when Ford complained about Kavanaugh.
Unlike Kavanaugh, Biden has a well-known history of unwanted advances toward women.
“Biden is not just a hugger,” said Lucy Flores, the former Nevada Democratic assemblywoman who claims Biden violated her with unwanted kissing and touching during a campaign event. At least six other women have come forward with stories about Biden invading personal space with unwanted affection.
“Biden very clearly was invading women’s spaces without their consent in a way that made them feel uncomfortable,” Flores said.
“Does he potentially have the capacity to go beyond that? That’s the answer everyone is trying to get at.”
Despite Reade’s credible claims, and Biden’s advice that we presume sexual assault claims are “real,” the mainstream media pack has taken a pass on the story.
“...mainstream news organizations have mostly avoided it,” explains the Columbia Journalism Review.
“The mainstream media has largely ignored the allegations,” writes columnist Arwa Mahdawi in The Guardian. “Instead there have been headlines like ‘The top 10 women Joe Biden might pick as VP’ (CNN) and ‘Joe Biden’s inner circle: No longer a boy’s club’ (AP).”
Take Biden’s advice. Presume Reade’s story is real and give her the benefit of the doubt extended to Ford. Give Reade’s complaint the attention it warrants.