[guets post by Dana]
Here is the full statement Joe Biden released before his appearance on the Morning Joe show. Relevant portion:
I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago.
They aren’t true. This never happened.
While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny.
Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways.
But this much bears emphasizing.
She has said she raised some of these issues with her supervisor and senior staffers from my office at the time. They – both men and a woman – have said, unequivocally, that she never came to them and complained or raised issues. News organizations that have talked with literally dozens of former staffers have not found one – not one – who corroborated her allegations in any way. Indeed, many of them spoke to the culture of an office that would not have tolerated harassment in any way – as indeed I would not have.
There is a clear, critical part of this story that can be verified. The former staffer has said she filed a complaint back in 1993. But she does not have a record of this alleged complaint. The papers from my Senate years that I donated to the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files. It is the practice of Senators to establish a library of personal papers that document their public record: speeches, policy proposals, positions taken, and the writing of bills.
There is only one place a complaint of this kind could be – the National Archives. The National Archives is where the records are kept at what was then called the Office of Fair Employment Practices. I am requesting that the Secretary of the Senate ask the Archives to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document. If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be there.
Joe Biden to Morning Joe on Tara Reade sexual assault allegation: "It is not true. I am saying unequivocally — it never, never happened, and it didn't. It never happened." pic.twitter.com/kNDF0Fi6dt
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 1, 2020
You can read the full transcript of the interview here.
Robby Soave points to a problem with Biden’s claims:
But the most important exchange occurred when Brzezinski asked Biden to square his current defense with his previous claims that women should be believed when they come forward as sexual assault victims.
Biden then denied that he had previously advocated such a standard.
“From the very beginning, I’ve said believing the woman means taking the claim seriously, and then it’s vetted, looked into,” said Biden. “Women have a right to be heard, and the press should rigorously investigate claims they make. I’ll always uphold that principle. But in the end the truth is what matters. And these claims are false.”
The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate is misrepresenting his past statements. He absolutely did not take the position that “believing women means taking the claim seriously.” (And if that’s what believe-all-victims means, why not just say that instead?)
Brzezinski… repeatedly reminded Biden that he had advocated believing Christine Blasey Ford, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser. She even read his own words back to him: “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, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.” Brzezinski also called out several of Biden’s high profile supports—Stacy Abrams, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY)—for participating in the Kavanaugh double standard.
Caught in an obvious contradiction, Biden then tried to say that victims should be believed until contrary evidence emerges.
“Women are to be believed, given the benefit of the doubt,” said Biden. “If they come forward and say something happened to them, they should start with the presumption they are telling the truth. Then you have to look at the facts.
“What I said during the Kavanaugh hearings was she had a right to be heard,” Biden continued. “And she came forward, the presumption would be she’s telling the truth unless it’s proved she wasn’t telling the truth, or unless it’s clear from the facts surrounding it that it isn’t the truth.”
But under this standard, Biden would be presumed guilty. If the former vice president is taking the position that women should be believed unless their accusations are disproven, then the burden of evidence is on the accused. No evidence has emerged that explicitly contradicts Reade’s story. Does that mean the public should default to believing her?
Biden seems to think the lack of evidence confirming Reade’s story is the same thing as evidence disproving it.
Reade is reportedly in talks to sit for an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News. Before Biden’s appearance on Morning Joe, Wallace talked about Biden waiting until today to address Reade’s allegations:
“Now, here’s a woman, and they don’t want to believe her,” Wallace added. “And if Biden had denied it two weeks ago, when we were in this furor of the coronavirus, I think it would have been largely ignored. The story hadn’t gotten as big and people weren’t paying as much attention to Joe Biden.
“Now, the story has built. The story of him failing to come forward and refute it and kind of hiding behind women has grown.”
…Wallace said he expected Biden to categorically deny the claims…”But when he does, I think he’s going to have lost … much of the benefit for coming forward and confronting the allegations.”
Yesterday, Ben Smith questioned the inequity in reporting sexual asault allegations against popular politicians:
Ms. Reade told me Wednesday that the only offers she’s had to appear on television have come from Fox News, including a call from the prime time host Sean Hannity. She has so far turned them down.
“I’ve been trying to just kind of wait to get someone in the middle,” she said in a phone interview. “I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a progressive, I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a Trump supporter.”
CNN, NBC and MSNBC, whose DNA — even in a pandemic — is politics, have covered her on their websites and on air but haven’t put her on camera.
“They’re not offering to put me on TV — they’re just doing stories,” Ms. Reade told me. “No anchors, no nothing like that.” She’d most like to tell her story to a network television anchor she admires — CBS’s Gayle King is one, she said — but they haven’t called.
There’s still no clear explanation, however, for why Ms. Reade hasn’t been on mainstream TV. Representatives for CNN and MSNBC declined to explain why they haven’t booked a woman who is, whether you believe her or not, one of the few newsmakers right now who could cut through the pandemic.
Journalists cannot predict how viewers might react to television interviews with Ms. Reade, or where their reporting on her claims will lead. They don’t have to. They should just make sure their audience knows they’re reporting hard, and doing the work with an open mind.