Patterico's Pontifications

4/30/2020

Why I Have Problems Believing Tara Reade’s Current Accusation Against Joe Biden

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:27 am



I am very skeptical of Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden, and I would like to memorialize some of the reasons for that. First, she gave a completely different and much milder account just last year:

Alexandra Tara Reade said that in 1993 she was in her mid-20s when Biden, then a senator from Delaware, touched her several times making her feel uncomfortable. Reade said her responsibilities in the senator’s office were reduced after she refused to serve drinks at an event — what she called a desire of Biden’s because he liked her legs. Reade said she felt pushed out and left Biden’s employ in August 1993 after some nine months.

A spokesman for Biden couldn’t be reached for comment.

“He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade said. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.”

That is a very different allegation than “he put his fingers in my vagina without my consent.” And what’s interesting is that she pointed the newspaper to a friend who she said would corroborate the claim, and the friend went exactly as far as Reade did and no further:

A confidant of Reade’s at the time, granted anonymity by The Union, confirmed that Reade relayed the story shortly after the events occurred.

“Back then, back there, things just happened,” the friend said.

In context, “the story” is a story about Biden mistreating her and touching her inappropriately, not about sexual assault. Reade has tried to explain all this by blaming the reporter:

I was going to tell the whole thing… the whole history with Biden… But the way I was being questioned, it made me so uncomfortable that I didn’t trust it. And no offense to the reporters out there, it’s just maybe that’s something that can be learned, how to talk to somebody who got… Because I just really got shut down… And the narrative [they] really wanted it to be was that it wasn’t a sexual thing. Like don’t say it’s sexual. And so I was like, okay, I guess I can’t really say the whole story

But the thing is, she told this story to the Washington Post, which wrote earlier this month:

The Post has interviewed Reade on multiple occasions — both this year and last — as well as people she says she told of the assault claim and more than a half-dozen former staffers of Biden’s Senate office.

In interviews with The Post last year, Reade said that Biden had touched her neck and shoulders but did not mention the alleged assault or suggest there was more to the story. She faulted his staff, calling Biden “a male of his time, a very powerful senator, and he had people around saying it was okay.”

What’s more, Reade eventually wrote up her own story, presumably in her own words — not only omitting anything about Biden putting his fingers in her, but affirmatively asserting that “this is not a story about sexual misconduct”:

I am not a “snowflake.” I like to be touched, a lot. I am an affectionate person. However, I like to decide who touches me and when.

I did not understand or have the words back then to describe how I felt, but only sensed power moves and body language that I did not like. There was not yet the framework as there is now.

I did not like Joe Biden’s hand on me not for the reasons you think, it is because I am the alpha in the room too. Again, I like to be the one who chooses who enters my space and in what way.

We are sexual beings and we are all trying to figure out how to express this aspect of ourselves at work and home lives, it is a journey our society is on right now. But this is not a story about sexual misconduct; it is a story about abuse of power. It is a story about when a member of Congress allows staff to threaten or belittle or bully on their behalf unchecked to maintain power rather than modify the behavior.

And how did she describe the conduct in this self-penned piece? The same way she had told several publications previously: that Biden had been creepily touchy in the way we have all seen him be with many women in public.

I was told that Sen. Biden wanted me to “serve drinks at a event” because he “liked my legs” and thought I was “pretty.”

. . . .

My troubles had just started. Sen. Biden would touch me on the shoulder or hold his hand on my shoulder running his index finger up my neck during a meeting. Again, I did nothing. It was uncomfortable. Again, because it was a kind of dominant gesture, and I do not like to be dominated. But he did this often to me, others, he was demonstrative. I believe these gestures were not so much about “connection” but establishing dominance in the room. I kept silent when he did this. I respected him but I feared him.

In recent months, however — after having voted twice for the Obama/Biden ticket and put up tweets supportive of Biden — Reade became a Bernie supporter and changed her tune regarding what Biden had done.

I am told that women often are reluctant to make allegations of sexual misconduct by powerful men because of the way they are attacked — and to be sure, in her self-penned piece, Reade describes encountering “Internet trolls” (which actually sounds like mild harassment, but it’s likely to get much worse now and I can understand not wanting to go through that). I am told such contradictions are understandable. Maybe they could be — although I have a very difficult time seeing how a true victim of sexual misconduct would write the words “this is not a story about sexual misconduct” rather than simply failing to disclose it — but we must assess her credibility. We don’t know that her story is true. And so the clear inconsistencies here matter. Many people — #MeToo zealots, Bernie supporters, and Trump supporters alike — want to start from the assumption that Reade is telling the truth, and construct apologias for her inconsistencies based on that assumption. (I’m even told it’s not an inconsistency but that she disclosed only part of the story. Well, is this a story about sexual misconduct or is it not?) That’s not how it works. You assess credibility based on all factors.

So what about the corroboration?

Well, I have a problem with some of it. First, we are told that Reade’s brother backs up some of her story. But here’s what her brother told the Washington Post earlier this month:

Reade’s younger brother, Moulton, said she had told him parts of her experience with Biden but not the alleged sexual assault.

“I heard that there was a gym bag incident . . . and that he was inappropriate,” Moulton said. “I remember her telling me he said she was nothing to him.”

A few days after that interview, Moulton sent the text saying he wanted to clarify his remarks. He wrote that he recalled Reade telling him in the early 1990s that Biden had cornered her and put his hands under her clothes.

That’s still not “he penetrated me with his fingers” and it’s exceedingly odd that he forgot that detail. Then there is the friend who recently came out supporting Reade’s story in every detail, including the sexual assault. This woman cheerfully says she’s always supported Biden and will vote for him in the fall. What?

LaCasse told Insider that in 1995 or 1996, Reade told her she had been assaulted by Biden. “I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse said. “And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”

. . . .

“We were talking about violent stories,” LaCasse said, “because I had a violent situation. We just started talking about things and she just told me about the senator that she had worked for and he put his hand up her skirt.”

LaCasse acknowledged that coming forward to support an allegation against the Democratic presidential nominee “may have repercussions for me.” But she said she has no political ax to grind and intends to vote for Biden.

“I personally am a Democrat, a very strong Democrat,” she said. “And I’m for Biden, regardless. But still I have to come out and say this.”

I mean, okay. You can’t always predict how people will behave. But I can’t be alone in finding that odd.

I completely agree that there has, to date, been a seeming double standard in the volume of coverage of Christine Blasey Ford/Kavanaugh compared to this. The only plausible distinction I can see is that Blasey Ford was coming to testify in public, on television, giving sworn testimony, in a single hearing that would make or break a Supreme Court nominee. Here, the office sought is even more substantial, but it’s not coming to a head in a single televised hearing. That said, there’s still a pretty glaring double standard and we all see it.

But you can argue the double standard without behaving today the same way Democrats behaved in treating Blasey Ford’s story. It’s rather delicious watching the “Believe All Victims” crowd get torched by their own standards, but let’s not become that crowd ourselves.

Is it possible Reade is telling the truth? Sure, it’s possible. Does it seem very likely, given what we know now? Not from where I sit.

4/29/2020

WaPo Editorial Board Calls On Joe Biden To Address Sexual Assault Allegations

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:32 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Well, Joe Biden’s unfolding scandal – which may or may not lead anywhere – is certainly wreaking havoc in the Democratic Party, and with Democratic-aligned women’s groups. Everyone is showing their hypocritical underpants. There is little to no support for Tara Reade from the #MeToo and Believe All Women hens. And most ironically, no support from that feminist icon herself, Hillary Clinton, who endorsed Joe Biden yesterday. And of course, prominent Democrats, per instructions from the Biden camp, are parotting the party line: It did not happen. The bottom line is, when a man accused of such egregious behavior is the Democratic presidential nominee, Democrats circle the wagons and protect their tribe member, rather than hold him accountable. (Shades of Bill Clinton...) This makes it all the more surprising that the Washington Post bucked the Democratic company line and have called on Biden to address Reade’s claims:

TARA READE deserves to be heard, and voters deserve to hear her. They deserve to hear from Joe Biden, too.

The former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has yet to speak publicly about the allegation Ms. Reade has lodged against him: that when she was a member of his Senate staff in the 1990s, Mr. Biden pushed her against a wall and put his fingers up her skirt and then inside her. Mr. Biden’s campaign says “this never happened.” Contemporaneous accounts of Ms. Reade’s claim are counterweighted by the denials of her superiors at the time that she reported any misconduct, as well as inconsistencies in her retelling.

There are, at the moment, no clear conclusions. There may never be. But that is no excuse for not searching. One place to start is the records covering Mr. Biden’s 36-year Senate career, donated to the University of Delaware in 2012 and slated for release to the public two years after Mr. Biden “retires from public life.” These could contain confirmation of any complaint Ms. Reade made, either through official congressional channels or to the three other employees she claims she informed not specifically of the alleged assault but more generally of harassment. They could also contain nothing of the sort. Insisting on an inventory doesn’t mean one believes Ms. Reade or doesn’t believe her. It signals only a desire for the public to know all that’s able to be known, which ought to be in everyone’s interest.

Why wouldn’t Biden want to be as clearly transparent as possible? Why wouldn’t he want to do everything he can to address the issues with supporters, and reassure Americans that he did not do what Reade has accused him of doing?

I don’t know what really happened. There are inconsistencies in Reade’s account, and we don’t know what inconsistencies there might be in Biden’s account until he addresses the matter.

P.S. Political whores or token doormats:

Kirsten Gillibrand:

“I stand by Vice President Biden,” Gillibrand said. “He’s devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation.”

Stacy Abrams:

“The New York Times did a deep investigation and they found that the accusation was not credible. I believe Joe Biden,” she said, adding that he’s “a person who’s demonstrated that his love of family, his love of our community, has been made perfectly clear through his work as a congressional leader and as an American leader. I know Joe Biden, and I think that he is telling the truth and that this did not happen.”

Amy Klobuchar (a former County Attorney who shockingly appears to believe that because the NYT wrote about the sexual assault allegations – without interviewing Joe Biden – the matter is settled):

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said on Thursday that all sexual misconduct allegations should be thoroughly investigated and indicated that the one against former Vice President Joe Biden had been examined.

“He has said, and I agree with this, you’ve got to get to the bottom of every case and all allegations. I think The New York Times — I haven’t read all the stories. I read that one,” she said on MSNBC.

She seemed to be referring to a lengthy Times report titled “Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden.”

“Your viewers should read that,” Klobuchar told MSNBC host Ari Melber. “It was very thorough. They interviewed people…”

I think this case has been investigated. I know the vice president as a major leader on domestic abuse, I worked with him on that. And I think that, again, the viewers should read the article. It was very thorough.”

–Dana

Justin Amash Forms Exploratory Committee for Presidential Run

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:15 am



I think it’s safe to say he’s in.

I have gone my entire life without having a presidential candidate whom I could support with actual enthusiasm. The closest I came was probably Ross Perot in 1992, because I believed in his message of deficit reduction — but I also found him goofy and did not understand his fixation on NAFTA. I don’t agree with Justin Amash on everything. His views on criminal justice are the typical libertarian contempt for the system. I see the need for surveillance that he rejects. Although I have become more of a pacifist over the years (and always have been to a large degree), I worry a little that thugs might try to push him around.

But he is committed to the Constitution, whip-smart, and one of the most sensible and level-headed people I have ever seen in politics. The fact that I do not agree with him on every jot and tittle of what I assume would be his platform does not mean I cannot support him without reservation.

I’ve always supported voting for who you truly believe in, and not just being a strategic voter. I voted for Perot, for goodness’s sake. I told you to vote for Tom McClintock and not to settle for Ahhnold in the California recall. That said, I understand Amash seems unlikely to have a realistic chance (nobody knows the future), and if I were in a swing state I might vote differently than I will in California, where I feel free to vote my conscience, knowing that my vote won’t make a damn bit of difference.

To me, the only question is this: from whom will Amash take votes? Biden? Or Trump?

Conventional wisdom seems to be that he will take votes from Biden. And that has a lot of the prominent Never Trumpers worried:

On the other hand:

I asked Tom Nichols why he thinks Amash would take votes from Biden and not Trump, and here is how he replied:

I am not convinced by that logic:

That said, even if his reasoning is wrong, his conclusion may be right, for all I know. I have my own poll running on Twitter — of a highly unrepresentative sample of people (my followers) which includes very few Trump fans — and so far the results seem to back up Tom’s intuition.

Feel free to register your vote if you’re on Twitter.

Putting stock in an online poll of such an unrepresentative group would be foolish, but the poll does tell you that there are actual flesh and blood humans who (if their responses reflect their true feelings) at least today could see switching from Biden to Amash.

Depending on where they live, that could be a problem for those of us who believe removing Trump is the critical goal in the election.

That said, this is a true test of whether America, faced with a choice of two bad candidates, and offered a better alternative, will take it.

Me, I plan to take the better alternative. I will be voting for Justin Amash.

4/28/2020

In Coronavirus Vaccine Development News

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:15 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The New York Times reports:

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab. But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test.

“The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans,” Dr. Munster said, noting that scientists were still analyzing the result. He said he expected to share it with other scientists next week and then submit it to a peer-reviewed journal.

Immunity in monkeys is no guarantee that a vaccine will provide the same degree of protection for humans. A Chinese company that recently started a clinical trial with 144 participants, SinoVac, has also said that its vaccine was effective in rhesus macaques. But with dozens of efforts now underway to find a vaccine, the monkey results are the latest indication that Oxford’s accelerated venture is emerging as a bellwether.

–Dana

More Animals Infected With New Coronavirus

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:46 am



[guest post by Dana]

Minks in the Netherlands:

Two mink farms in the Netherlands have been put into quarantine after animals were found to be infected with the new coronavirus, the agriculture ministry said on Sunday, urging people to report any other likely cases in the animals.

The mink, which were tested after showing signs of having trouble breathing, were believed to have been infected by employees who had the virus, the ministry said in a statement.

The possibility that they could further spread the virus to humans or other animals on the farms was “minimal”, the ministry said, citing advice from national health authorities.

However movement of the ferret-like mammals and their manure was banned and the ministry said it was studying the outbreak carefully, including testing the air and soil.

A family’s dog in the U.S.:

The family was involved in a study at Duke in which the mother, father and son tested positive for COVID-19. During this study, the family had their pets tested and found out their pug, Winston, had coronavirus.

Dr. Chris Woods, the principal investigator of the Duke study, said, “The virus that causes COVID-19 was detected,” and he believes it’s the first known positive case in a dog in the United States.

The family’s mother, Heather McLean, is a pediatrician at Duke. She said their dog was experiencing mild symptoms. “Pugs are a little unusual in that they cough and sneeze in a very strange way. So it almost seems like he was gagging, and there was one day when he didn’t want to eat his breakfast, and if you know pugs you know they love to eat, so that seemed very unusual,” she said.

Note (and, eew…):

“(The dog) licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face. So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus),” said McLean’s son, Ben.

Last week, Smithsonian Magazine published a report which questioned why the virus behind the disease affects only certain animals:

In just a few months, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put billions of humans at risk. But as researchers work around the clock to understand SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the disease, some have begun to worry that countless others may be at stake: animals who could catch the germ from their distant Homo sapiens cousins.

Recent reports of SARS-CoV-2 infecting creatures such as monkeys, dogs, ferrets, domestic cats and even a tiger have raised the possibility that the pathogen could plague other species—including, perhaps, ones already imperiled by other, non-infectious threats.

…[H]umans remain the virus’ most vulnerable victims, as well as the hosts most likely to spread the disease from place to place. There is also no evidence that animals are passing the pathogen to people, says Jane Sykes, a veterinarian and animal virus researcher at the University of California, Davis. However, studying the creatures this stealthy virus has affected so far could help scientists understand what makes some species—but not others—susceptible.

Specifics detailed at the link.

–Dana

Jet Blue To Require Passengers to Wear Face Masks

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:11 am



[guest post by Dana]

Flight attendants are required to wear them, and now passengers on Jet Blue will have to wear them as well:

JetBlue Airways on Monday became the first U.S. airline to announce that all passengers will have to wear a face covering on flights.

Starting May 4, passengers will be required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth during the duration of each flight and also during check-in, boarding and deplaning, according to a JetBlue statement.

“We are also asking our customers to follow these CDC guidelines in the airport as well,” said Joanna Geraghty, the airline’s president and chief operating officer. “Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself; it’s about protecting those around you.”

While flight attendants on American Airlines and United Airlines will be required to wear faces masks, passengers will not to be required to wear them. Instead, flight attendants on American Airlines will be offering masks to passengers.

Because of the lack of safety measures being taken by airlines, flight attendants are calling for leisure flights to be cancelled:

In recent days, scenes of packed airplanes with passengers not wearing masks have made the news. And while major carriers are allowing passengers to do some seat switching to help with social distancing, they are not requiring passengers to wear masks or stay six feet away from each other.

The risky situation has prompted a strong reaction from the union of flight attendants, which is calling on the Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, to “end all leisure travel until the virus is contained”—the words of Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), who penned an open letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Health Secretary Alex Azar.

Nelson’s letter points out that flight attendants have been hard hit by the virus. “At airlines employing AFA member flight attendants, at least 250 have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and flight attendants have died as a result of the virus too,” writes Nelson.

Nelson’s impassioned letter also says that flight attendants are questioning if they are “helping to spread the virus.”

The flight attendants union is also requesting that every crew members and passenger be required to wear masks on airplanes, as well as in airports.

–Dana

4/27/2020

New Study Indicates Likelihood of Getting COVID-19 “Is Under Some Genetic Control”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:09 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Here’s how the study worked:

Symptoms of Covid-19 appear to be partly down to genetic makeup, researchers at King’s College London have discovered.

The finding is based on data collected through the Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app, launched by the team last month.

The team also asked thousands of twins in the UK…to use the app and record whether they had symptoms or not. The team employed machine-learning algorithms, together with data from the 2.7 million app users – many of whom have been tested for coronavirus – to work out the combination of symptoms that indicate an individual is likely to have Covid-19.

The team then focused on data from just over 2,600 twins to try to establish whether the symptoms experienced by those predicted to have Covid-19 was related to genetic makeup.

“The idea was to basically look at the similarities in symptoms or non-symptoms between the identical twins, who share 100% of their genes, and the non-identical twins, who only share half of their genes,” Prof Tim Spector, one of the scientists leading the endeavour, told the Guardian. “If there is a genetic factor in expressing the symptoms then we’d see a greater similarity in the identical [twins] than the non-identical [twins] and that is basically what we showed.”

External factors, such as whether the twins resided in the same home, were taken into account. The results reavealed that:

…genetic factors explained about 50% of the differences between people’s symptoms of Covid-19.

More specifically, the team found a substantial genetic influence for the symptoms of fever, diarrhoea, delirium, and losses of taste and smell. By contrast, a hoarse voice, a cough, skipped meals, chest pain, and abdominal pain were not linked to genetic makeup.

Summation:

“This disease is very weird, the way it has a very different presentation in the population in different people – what we are showing is that isn’t random,” Spector said. “It is not mainly due to where you live or who you have seen; a lot of it is something innate about you.

“I think you can say that your likelihood of getting it at all, or getting it severely, is under some genetic control.”

The report goes on to say that the findings could help researchers learn about the mechanisms by “which Covid-19 acts on the body,” as well as possibly providing a way to know who might be most at risk for the disease.

Note: The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Interestingly, a set of identical twins died just days ago from coronavirus:

Children’s nurse Katy Davis, 37, died at Southampton General Hospital on Tuesday.

Identical twin Emma, herself a former nurse, died at the same hospital early on Friday.

Their sister, Zoe, said: “They always said they had come into the world together and would go out together as well.”

She said the “amazing” pair, who lived together, had other health conditions and had been unwell for some time.

I am unable to locate exactly what their underlying health issues were, and if they were the same ones.

–Dana

Tara Reade’s Former Neighbor Says That Reade Told Her About The Alleged Sexual Assault by Joe Biden

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:57 am



[guest post by Dana]

This comes after the publication of a report saying that Tara Reade’s mother had made an anonymous call to Larry King’s show in 1993, and without offering specifics, referenced her daughter’s experience while she worked as a staffer in Joe Biden’s Senate office. Reade confirmed that it was her mother’s voice on the call.

From today’s report:

In March, when a former aide to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accused the candidate of sexually assaulting her in 1993, two people came forward to say that the woman, Tara Reade, had told them of the incident shortly after it allegedly occurred — her brother, Collin Moulton, and a friend who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Now two more sources have come forward to corroborate certain details about Reade’s claims. One of them — a former neighbor of Reade’s — has told Insider for the first time, on the record, that Reade disclosed details about the alleged assault to her in the mid-1990s.

“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” Lynda LaCasse, who lived next door to Reade in the mid-1990s, told Insider.

The other source, Lorraine Sanchez, who worked with Reade in the office of a California state senator in the mid-1990s, told Insider that she recalls Reade complaining at the time that her former boss in Washington DC had sexually harassed her, and that she had been fired after raising concerns.

LaCasse, who is a Democrat and still plans to vote for Biden, says that she believed Reade’s account when she first heard it, and that “we need to stand up and tell the truth”:

LaCasse told Insider that in 1995 or 1996, Reade told her she had been assaulted by Biden. “I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse said. “And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”

LaCasse said that she remembers Reade getting emotional as she told the story. “She was crying,” she said. “She was upset. And the more she talked about it, the more she started crying. I remember saying that she needed to file a police report.” LaCasse said she does not recall whether Reade supplied any other details, like the location of the alleged assault or anything Biden may have said.

“I don’t remember all the details,” LaCasse said. “I remember the skirt. I remember the fingers. I remember she was devastated.”

From Sanchez:

After she left Washington, DC, Reade worked for California State Senator Jack O’Connell. Lorraine Sanchez, a former legislative staffer in O’Connell’s office, mentored Reade and worked alongside her from 1994 through 1996. Sanchez told Insider that Reade complained at the time about being mistreated by her former employer.

“[Reade said] she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC,” Sanchez said, “and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.”

Sanchez said she does not recall if Reade offered details about the sort of harassment she allegedly suffered, or if she named Biden. “What I do remember,” Sanchez said, “is reassuring her that nothing like that would ever happen to her here in our office, that she was in a safe place, free from any sexual harassment.” Reade said she never experienced harassment from any other employer she had during her time in Washington, and that the employer Sanchez recalls her complaining about was Biden.

Joe Biden has not been directly asked about Tara Reade’s claims, as he should be. However, when Business Insider made the request to do just that, the campaign ignored the request. They did, however, ask to speak on the phone to the publication, but only off the record. The request was turned down. Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s communications director, maintains that the accusations are false.

As a reminder, this is what Reade claims Joe Biden did to her:

Reade has said that in the spring or summer of 1993, she was told to meet Biden in a semi-private corridor to deliver a duffel bag. There, she said, Biden pushed her up against a wall, reached under her skirt, and penetrated her with his fingers. When she resisted his advances, Reade said, Biden expressed annoyance and said, “Aw man, I heard you liked me.” Then, she said, he pointed a finger at her and said, “You’re nothing to me.” After that, she said, he shook her by the shoulders and said, “You’re OK, you’re fine,” before walking away.

Unsurprisingly, Nancy Pelosi endorsed Joe Biden for president on the same day as the report about Reade’s neighbor confirming that she had been told in detail about Biden sexually assaulting Reade was published:

For these and other reasons, I am proud to endorse Joe Biden for President, a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values authenticity and integrity.

With that, it’s surprising to see a progressive Democratic political strategist and adviser to Hillary Clinton push for Biden’s withdrawal from the presidential race. This even before today’s report came out:

DIFFICULT THREAD — #BIDEN SHOULD WITHDRAW

1. I respect the will of the voters.

2. But new information has emerged supporting #TaraReade’s account of being sexually assaulted by #JoeBiden.

3. Credible rape accusations are disqualifying or we have NO moral standards.

4. Defeating Trump is NOT OPTIONAL.

5. To avoid potential catastrophe in Nov., #Biden should withdraw.

6. #Warren, #Harris, #Klobuchar, #Buttigieg, #Castro, etc. could replace Biden.

7. #Bernie can restart his campaign.

8. We can reboot the primary and give voters a choice.

9. This is the ethical position AND the smarter strategy to beat Trump.

10. We lose ALL moral authority if we embrace “the lesser of two accused rapists.”

11. Polls show other Dem candidates can win.

PRINCIPLES MATTER. WE CAN BEAT TRUMP AND PROTECT OUR VALUES.

I made the same arguments about #Franken and #Kavanaugh.

If #MeToo means anything, it CANNOT BE APPLIED ON A PARTISAN BASIS.

And for the record, I also think the same standard should apply to Bill Clinton’s accusers.

A couple of things: #MeToo loses all credibility it if ignores Tara Reade and her allegations. Because Trump is sitting in the White House, in spite of any number of accusations of sexual harassment and/or assault against him, does not give anyone else a free pass. Further, both sides of the aisle have already ceded any moral high ground, and the stain of guilt is on the voters’ hands. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have any moral standing. That disappeared with Bill Clinton, and with Donald Trump. Nonetheless, Biden should be asked directly about the accusations in full public view. Because, aside from the possible legal consequences, voters deserve to know exactly who and what they are voting for. Even though, as seen with LaCasse, it may not matter just how ugly, vile, and possibly illegal their nominee’s actions have been. The reality is, that in these polarized days, tribe trumps morals and ethics every damn time. And how sad is that.

–Dana

4/26/2020

About That Conspiracy Theory that CNN Removed a Critical Episode of Larry King from Google Play

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:45 pm



Here is the allegation:

The 1993 episode of CNN’s “Larry King Live” featuring an anonymous caller who was later identified as the mother of Biden accuser Tara Reade was no longer listed in Google Play’s catalog late Saturday.

Twitter user J.L. Hamilton shared a screenshot showing the Aug. 11, 1993, broadcast of “Larry King Live” was no longer listed in the season three catalog of the iconic CNN talk show. Mysteriously, though, the Aug. 10 broadcast, which is listed as “Episode 154″ is followed by the Aug. 12 broadcast, which is listed as “Episode 155,” suggesting that episode and the ones that follow could be incorrectly listed and off by a number.

Fox News later verified the Aug. 11 episode is not listed on the streaming service. It is unclear when it was removed from the catalog.

The allegation was repeated by Tiana Lowe at the Washington Examiner:

[A]fter months of the media hedging on the Reade story, the specific Larry King Live episode apparently featuring Reade’s mother has inexplicably gone missing on CNN’s Google Play archives of the show. …. Given CNN’s relative silence on the Reade allegation, the network’s top bosses’ toxic obsession with Trump, and the size of the Larry King Live archive on Google Play, it cannot possibly be ruled out that the episode’s disappearance was the result of Biden-backing CNN executives intentionally memory-holing it. Now tell me, do you corrupt your credibility so thoroughly when you think a man is innocent?

The Daily Caller reported the same thing.

This allegation created quite a buzz. Every political hack and incurious partisan — you know, the kind who get huffy about “fake news” except when they spread it themselves — hurried to their keyboards to tap out knowing and cynical takes about the dishonest media that covered up this episode.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

So is it really true? Nope, it does not appear to be.

Here’s the grain of truth. If you go to Google Play, and search for Larry King episodes from 1993, you do in fact see that the search results show no episode from August 11, 1993. Go ahead and click to see for yourself, even though I am about to show you a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2020-04-26 at 12.56.25 PM

BOOM! as they say on Twitchy. The precise thesis of the Fox News article, borne out by actual screenshot evidence! Now go forth and spread this rumor far and wide!

… or maybe don’t. First, before we get to the really hard evidence that this is bullshit, let’s apply some common sense to the notion that CNN (which broadcast Larry King Live) was trying to cover this up by … publishing a whole article about it and putting it on their front page yesterday:

Helluva cover-up, to publish an article about it. But still: why the removal from the archives? Well, if you’re asking that question, you probably have not noticed the (faulty) assumption you’re making. I’ll take you through how I uncovered it. First, I noticed (as the Fox News article did) that the numbering was consecutive, as if the episode had never been there. The call by Tara Reade’s mom happened on August 11, 1993. The episode the night before (August 10) was Episode 154 according to the screenshot. The episode the night after (August 12) was Episode 155. What’s the deal? Did someone go back and renumber all the episodes? Was the missing episode called Episode 154.5?

Curious, I clicked through Episode 155 to see what it said there. Was it labeled Episode 155 when you click through? Here’s what I saw:

Episode 155 Unavailable

See that language in the bottom left corner? It says “This show is currently unavailable.” So I clicked through some other episodes from Season 3, and every time I clicked through I got the same message. So I tried a few other seasons, up to and including the most recent. Every time I clicked through, I found that I could not actually pull up the episode.

I figured maybe I didn’t understand how Google Play worked. After all, so many outlets had confidently reported that you could access the other episodes. I went to Twitter and put up my findings:

TV’s Andy Levy sent me a link to this tweet from CNN spokesman Matt Dornic:

Turns out I understood Google Play well enough. It was just the case, apparently, that not a single one of the media outlets or talking heads who retweeted this ridiculous conspiracy theory had bothered to check to see if any other episode of Larry King was available on Google Play.

Note that the original version of the Fox News story did not have Dornic’s response (thank you, Wayback Machine!), saying merely: “Neither CNN nor Google immediately responded to Fox News’ requests for comment. Fox News also reached out to the representation of Larry King and have not heard a response.” (I love those “they did not respond immediately” sentences in media stories. Just how many minutes or seconds do they give people to respond?) But now their story says:

On Sunday afternoon, CNN provided as a statement a reply tweet from CNN Communications spokesperson Matt Dornic, who denied that the network removed anything from Google Play, calling the allegation from Hamilton “B.S.”

“Listings on the site are not sourced thru CNN. Click any episode, it will say ‘not available to watch,'” Dornic added in the reply to the Twitter user.

Which pretty much blows up the whole premise of the story, wouldn’t you say? The guy who made the original observation thinks so. He has deleted his original tweet and is now retweeting the response from the CNN spokesman.

Now, there’s still the issue of the absence of that episode from the search results. Here’s what I have to say about that: it is odd, but it has nothing to do with the validity of the dumb conspiracy theory.

So here’s the thing. If CNN spokesman Matt Dornic is full of crap, and other episodes of Larry King can be played on Google Play, here’s your chance to make yourself famous. Go make a screen recording of yourself playing any episode of Larry King Live from Google Play. CNN’s Matt Dornic says it can’t be done. If he’s lying, go to the link, click on one of those episodes you think actually is available, and play it. Because, as always, there’s a chance I’m wrong. And if I am, you can make a name for yourself as the guy who proved a CNN spokesman was full of crap.

If you have been repeating the conspiracy theory, you owe it to the truth to do this. If you can’t play any Larry King episode on Google Play, it means the conspiracy theory is crap — which means you really ought to go to all the places where you repeated it, take it back, and admit you were wrong.

Oddly, many of the people to whom I have pointed out these facts have suddenly gone radio silent. A few quibble with questions about why the episode is missing from the search results and such, but not one person who was pushing this theory has come back to me and said: “You know what? You’re right. I tried playing other episodes and I can’t. I guess I was wrong to push this.”

It would be so refreshing if people would do that in this age of partisanship. And if I turn out to be wrong about this — which is possible, although the possibility seems increasingly remote — I’ll admit it.

Now let’s get out there and put an end to baseless rumors — even if they are about the media and confirm your biases. The truth is more important than confirming your prejudices.

An Oldie But A Goodie From The Trump Playbook: Blaming The “Lamestream Media” To Save Face

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:11 am



[guest post by Dana]

Last week, it was reported by Axios that Trump’s aides were concerned about the President’s daily press conferences being a negative for him:

President Trump plans to pare back his coronavirus press conferences, according to four sources familiar with the internal deliberations.

He may stop appearing daily and make shorter appearances when he does, the sources said — a practice that may have started with Friday’s unusually short briefing.

…Trump’s daily press conferences — televised to a largely homebound population — have dominated the public discourse about the coronavirus.

…A number of Trump’s most trusted advisers — both inside and outside the White House — have urged him to stop doing marathon televised briefings.

They’ve told him he’s overexposed and these appearances are part of the reason polls aren’t looking good for him right now against Joe Biden.

“I told him it’s not helping him,” said one adviser to the president. “Seniors are scared. And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”

In spite of the concerns by those close to him, Trump defended the press conferences because, as he claimed, they got good ratings. But that was before his “disinfectant” debacle:

Many close to him believe the daily briefings hurt him more than they help him, with Thursday’s episode being the prime example. The White House spent the last 24 hours attempting to clean up remarks from the President that researchers should look into injecting people with disinfectant or ultraviolet rays to cure coronavirus.

A source close to the coronavirus task force said Trump was upset about the “flack” he was taking after those comments and that appears to be part of the reason why the President cut Friday’s briefing short.

During the earlier questioning from reporters on Friday, Trump said he was being “sarcastic” with his suggestion that people inject themselves with disinfectant, even though he was clearly being serious during Thursday’s briefing.

One White House official said they asked the President to stop conducting the daily briefings last week but he resisted. Another ally told CNN that this concern is not new among those close to him.

And a separate Trump ally told CNN that Thursday’s briefing is exactly what they were worried about when they begged him not to have such long and freewheeling press conferences — that one day he would just say something completely off the wall and off the rails.

Trump apparently got the message, and announced yesterday that daily press conferences were not worth the time and effort. But of course he would have to blame someone other than himself for the situation in which he found himself. So why not go to his old standby, the media:

To Trump’s mind, the pressers weren’t a disaster because he mistook them for political rallies where his supporters *want* and *expect* him to go off the rails, and applaud him when he does. No, the fault had to lay elsewhere. It wasn’t hard to find the obvious scapegoat. To his clouded mind, he wasn’t taking flak in the press because he was promoting unproven treatments, brazenly disagreeing with members of his Coronavirus Task Force, or musing about whether injecting disinfectant would be an effective way to fight coronavirus. Nope. To him it was basically the continuation of one very long witch hunt.

Even during a pandemic, it is not possible for Trump to muster up the self-discipline needed to stay on point, stick to the script, give brief and accurate updates, and defer to experts – without challenging them, brazenly disagreeing with them, or interjecting his own wacky theories.

But none of this is surprising. We’re jaded, we’re informed, we’ve seen it all before. It’s always been this way.

–Dana

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