The headline was seen by critics of the double standard being applied to the Biden allegation. It raises similar objections to how Democratic leaders and commentators spent years protecting Bill Clinton from an array women alleging everything from sexual harassment to rape. A more obvious headline would be “Two Additional Witnesses Come Forward To Support Biden Accuser.”
It is important to note that columnists and reporters like Washington Post reporter Matt Viser do not write headlines or approve them.
There has been an almost universal spin in the media to portray the Biden allegation as a political story of how Republicans are seeking to use the story against him. There is a true element to that story. However, the disconnect with the Kavanaugh coverage is quite extraordinary. There was little equivocation in either the headlines or the stories.
The disconnect is even more striking among Democratic leaders. I previously wrote on the position of Democratic senators, before Christine Blasey Ford even testified, that they believed her and opposed Kavanaugh. That was an allegation from high school that had not been previously voiced in public. Yet, Democratic senator denounced anyone who did not believe Ford based solely on her account. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, declared that all men need to “shut up”:
“Not only do women like Dr. Ford, who bravely come forward, need to be heard, but they need to be believed. Guess who’s perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country, and I just want to say to the men of this country to shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change.”
Other Democratic senators could not go public any faster with immediate support for Ford as a clear victim. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn). stated “Let me just say right at the outset: I believe, Dr. Ford. I believe the survivor here.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., NY) declared “I believe her. Many, many, many Americans believe her. Many, many women in America who have been taken advantage of certainly believe her.” Sen. Kirsten GIllibrand (D., NY) said “I believe her because she’s telling the truth.”
A wide array of members demanded that the Congress must believe women who raise such allegations or they are abusing these victims. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who just endorsed Biden yesterday, attacked those who did not simply accept the word of Ford: “Senate Republicans chose to send a clear message to all women: do not speak out, and if you do – do not expect to be heard, believed or respected.”
Reade specifically struck out at Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Cal.), who was one of the most vocal politicians demanding that Ford’s allegations be accepted and Kavanaugh rejected. Reade stated “Kamala Harris is my representative and I reached out to her for help. No response.” She also blasted Hillary Clinton, who Reade says she supported in past elections, for endorsing Biden. In an apparent reference to Bill Clinton Reade added “Hillary Clinton has a history of enabling powerful men to cover up their sexual predatory behaviors and their inappropriate sexual misconduct.”
At the time (and today with regard to the Biden accusations) I was concerned about the lack of a presumption of innocence before any testimony had even occurred. After telling all men everywhere to “shut up” and just stand with Ford, Hirano was pressed on whether Kavanaugh has “the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?” For most people, the question would be an easy one to answer in the affirmative, Hirono demurred and declined to say that she would afford Kavanaugh this core presumption of the rule of law. She said that she would “put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.” She said that she would consider his “ideological agenda” and her view that “he very much is against women’s reproductive choice.”
Once again, I have always maintained that women need to be heard and taken seriously in raising these allegations. I have also objected to those who would toss aside due process and simply accept accusations without investigation. Notably, while most are remaining silent and refusing to respond to media inquiries, some Democrats are now adopting that approach for Biden and, rather than saying that Reade must be believed, they are now saying that she must be heard. Biden supporter Alyssa Milano tweeted out “I hear and see you, Tara.” She notably did not say “I believe you,” in sharp contrast with the Ford allegation. During the Kavanaugh hearing, some of us were slammed for not treating the Ford allegations as per se dispositive.
However, there is no denying the fact that the many in media and the Democratic leadership have, again, adopted a sharply different approach to a story where a leading Democrat is accused of sexual assault. There was no equivocation and circumspection during the Kavanaugh controversy. The spin is staggering and the silence is deafening.