NewsBusters

ABC Ignores Tara Reade Interview, NBC & CBS Push Biden Denials

As former Senate staffer Tara Reade gave her first on-camera interview detailing her sexual assault allegation against Joe Biden on Thursday, neither ABC’s World News Tonight that evening nor Friday’s Good Morning America mentioned the important development. While NBC and CBS did cover the story, both networks framed Reade’s public comments as a “response to Joe Biden’s strong denial.”

NBC Nightly News was the only network evening newscast to report on Reade’s interview Thursday night, after clips of her conversation with Megyn Kelly were first made public earlier in the afternoon. “Tonight, Tara Reade, a former Biden Senate aide who is now accusing him of sexual assault 27 years ago, in her first response to Joe Biden’s denial,” senior Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed as she started off the 2 minute 19 second segment.

 

 

She echoed that framing on the Today show Friday morning: “Tara Reade’s comments are her first on-camera response to Joe Biden’s strong denial of her assault allegation just a week ago with Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC.” Mitchell added that the interview came “As the Biden campaign points out inconsistencies in Reade’s account over the years.”

“In her response to Biden’s denial, Tara Reade emotionally describing what she says happened in the spring of 1993,” Mitchell reiterated as the taped portion of the 3 minute 16 second segment began. The reporter explained: “She alleges Biden pushed her up against the wall of a Senate corridor and put his hand under her clothes.”

Soundbites ran of Reade telling Kelly about the incident:

He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then I said, you know, “Here you go, Senator,” I handed him the bag. And it happened very quickly….He had his hands underneath my clothes and it happened all at once. He had one hand underneath my shirt and the other hand, I had a skirt on, and he like went down my skirt and then went up….He pointed his finger at me and he said, “You’re nothing to me, you’re nothing.” And I think – I think that’s the hardest thing.

Mitchell quickly noted: “Biden has consistently denied Reade’s claims, repeating his denial Thursday when asked about her new comments.”

She wrapped up the report by citing statements from the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign:

The Biden campaign issuing a statement Thursday saying, “Every day, more and more inconsistencies arise. Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm – and we all have a responsibility to ensure that. At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth”….The Biden campaign says no one from his Senate staff recalls ever hearing about such an incident and the lawyers who vetted Biden to run for vice president say they found no misconduct of any kind.

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Ed O’Keefe sounded similar to his NBC colleague as he began his network’s 2 minute 51 second report on Reade’s interview: “In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Tara Reade responded to Joe Biden’s denial that he sexually assaulted her in a Capitol Hill hallway in 1993.”

A clip played of the exchange in which Reade called on Biden to end his presidential campaign:

READE: You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.

MEGYN KELLY: You want him to withdraw?

READE: I wish he would. But he won’t. But I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.

KELLY: Do you want an apology?

READE: I think it’s a little late.        

While O’Keefe acknowledged that “We have spoken with several acquaintances and her brother who have corroborated her story,” he also cautioned, “Reade’s version and their version of events have evolved in interviews with other news outlets.”

The reporter only briefly noted new corroboration of Reade’s claim:

Late Thursday, the Tribune paper in San Luis Obispo, California, reported that a 1996 court document shows Reade told her ex-husband about problems with sexual harassment in then-Senator Biden’s office in 1993. The document doesn’t say that Biden committed the harassment or mentioned Reade’s more recent accusation of assault.

NBC completely ignored that new evidence.

Concluding his report, O’Keefe touted: “In response, the Biden campaign said in a statement that as ‘more news outlets speak to Reade and her associates, more and more inconsistencies keep emerging.’”

While NBC and CBS at least covered Reade’s interview, the beginning, middle, and end of those reports repeatedly emphasized Biden’s denials of the allegation. That was not how the same networks covered sexual assault allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in September of 2018. At that time, out of the 344 minutes the NBC, ABC, and CBS evening newscasts devoted to the claims against Kavanaugh over an 11-day period, only 14 of those minutes noted his denials.     

Reporters may cover Reade’s claim, but they frequently include Biden’s denial in the same breath.

Here is a full transcript of Mitchell’s May 8 report on NBC’s Today show:

7:15 AM ET

HODA KOTB: We do have a lot to get to this morning, including the first on-camera interview with the woman who’s accused Joe Biden with sexual assault. NBC’s senior Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell has more on the new claims that she’s making. Hey, Andrea, good morning.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Hoda. Tara Reade’s comments are her first on-camera response to Joe Biden’s strong denial of her assault allegation just a week ago with Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC. As the Biden campaign points out inconsistencies in Reade’s account over the years. Reade says she now believes Biden should exit the presidential race, she doesn’t think that will happen. And a warning for our viewers, some of the language is graphic.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Joe Biden Accuser Tara Reade Speaks Out; Calls for Candidate to “Step Forward and Be Held Accountable”]

In her response to Biden’s denial, Tara Reade emotionally describing what she says happened in the spring of 1993, describing being asked to bring then-Senator Joe Biden a gym bag in a Senate office building.

TARA READE: He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then I said, you know, “Here you go, Senator,” I handed him the bag. And it happened very quickly.

MITCHELL: She alleges Biden pushed her up against the wall of a Senate corridor and put his hand under her clothes.

READE: He had his hands underneath my clothes and it happened all at once. He had one hand underneath my shirt and the other hand, I had a skirt on, and he like went down my skirt and then went up.

MITCHELL: Reade claiming Biden pulled back when she resisted.

READE: He pointed his finger at me and he said, “You’re nothing to me, you’re nothing.” And I think – I think that’s the hardest thing.

MITCHELL: Biden has consistently denied Reade’s claims, repeating his denial Thursday when asked about her new comments.

JOE BIDEN: In every case the truth is what matters, and in this case, the truth is these claims are flat-out false.

MITCHELL: A year ago, Reade was among several women who said Biden had touched them inappropriately, in a nonsexual manner. Biden later vowing to be more respectful of people’s personal space. But in March, for the first time publicly, Reade came forward with her assault claim. She also said she had filed a complaint with the Senate, but did not mention assault. No complaint has been found.

The Biden campaign issuing a statement Thursday saying, “Every day, more and more inconsistencies arise. Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm – and we all have a responsibility to ensure that. At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth.”

Asked if she would take a polygraph, Tara Reade says that victims of violence should not have to and that she is not a criminal, but she would take one if Biden did. Only portions of Reade’s conversation with Megyn Kelly were posted online so far. The Biden campaign says no one from his Senate staff recalls ever hearing about such an incident and the lawyers who vetted Biden to run for vice president say they found no misconduct of any kind. Hoda?

KOTB: Alright, Andrea Mitchell for us in Washington, D.C. Andrea, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of O’Keefe’s report on CBS This Morning:

7:16 AM ET

ANTHONY MASON: The former Senate staffer accusing Joe Biden of sexual assault is calling on the presumptive Democratic nominee to drop out of the presidential race. It’s the first time Tara Reade has talked publicly since Biden denied the allegation in a television interview last week. Ed O’Keefe reports from Washington.

TARA READE: His campaign is taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely. I have not experienced that.

ED O’KEEFE: In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Tara Reade responded to Joe Biden’s denial that he sexually assaulted her in a Capitol Hill hallway in 1993.

READE: You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.

MEGYN KELLY: You want him to withdraw?

READE: I wish he would. But he won’t. But I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.

KELLY: Do you want an apology?

READE: I think it’s a little late.

O’KEEFE: Reade was one of several women who last year accused Biden of inappropriate touching. A former Senate aide to Biden, she is the only person to allege sexual assault. CBS News has spoken to her several times since she first made the accusation in late March. We have spoken with several acquaintances and her brother who have corroborated her story, but Reade’s version and their version of events have evolved in interviews with other news outlets.

READE: I don’t really care if people believe it or not. I’ve had to live with it.

O’KEEFE: And would she be willing to take a polygraph test?

READE: So, I will take one if Joe Biden takes one. But I’m not a criminal.

O’KEEFE: Several former Biden Senate aides have said they never heard of Reade’s allegation at the time. Biden asked the senate to release any paperwork that might shed light on the incident, and he again denied the allegations on Thursday.

JOE BIDEN: Well, look, nothing ever happened with Tara Reade. Believing women means take a woman’s claim seriously when she steps forward and vetting it, looking into it. In every case, the truth is what matters. In this case the truth is these claims are flat-out false.

O’KEEFE: Late Thursday, the Tribune paper in San Luis Obispo, California, reported that a 1996 court document shows Reade told her ex-husband about problems with sexual harassment in then-Senator Biden’s office in 1993. The document doesn’t say that Biden committed the harassment or mentioned Reade’s more recent accusation of assault. In response, the Biden campaign said in a statement that as “more news outlets speak to Reade and her associates, more and more inconsistencies keep emerging.”

CBS News has been trying to get a copy of that court document for several days, and we’ve made repeated requests for an on-camera interview with Tara Reade. On Thursday, Biden held the first of what he’s calling virtual campaign events from his Delaware home. He spoke with supporters in Florida, a swing state where he has a narrow lead over President Trump. Gayle?

GAYLE KING: Alright, Ed, thank you very much.

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