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