Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Right-wingers believe there's a double standard in the reporting of scandals involving politicians. Here's part of a Washington Examiner editorial:
Without a shred of evidence that Brett Kavanaugh had ever even met Christine Blasey Ford, the news media decided the then-Supreme Court nominee was guilty of an unconscionable sexual assault four decades ago. Kavanaugh went overnight from being understood to be a consummate legal star, women’s advocate, and faithful family man, to being depicted as a sleazy drunkard and would-be rapist.

Now, with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, facing an accusation of sexual assault, the media are demanding that an accusation against a leading public figure should be supported by far more evidence.

By any objective standard, the accusation from former Senate staffer Tara Reade that Biden sexually assaulted her is stronger than Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh. This does not mean Biden is guilty and should be disqualified. But it does highlight the grave injustice done to Kavanaugh.
The accusation against Biden hasn't been the subject of saturation coverage in the mainstream media. I understand why conservatives are complaining. But what they regard as differential treatment works out just fine for the Republican, on both sides of the divide.

The coverage of the Kavanaugh story didn't hurt his chances of becoming a Supreme Court justice. Lockstep Senate Republicans voted for him the way they always planned, and now he'll be on the Court for decades, just like Clarence Thomas. The right-wing media and Republican rank-and-file remained monolithically in his corner. He was regarded as clearly innocent in large part because he was the subject of so many mainstream media stories.

Do Republicans really want the Tara Reade story to have saturation coverage? If that happened, Biden might produce evidence disproving the charges, or might be pressured to step aside quickly -- which would lead to some chaos in the Democratic nominating process, but also might lead the party to coalesce swiftly around another nominee. (Democrats have been much better at avoiding angry rifts this year than most of us expected.) I don't think the GOP really wants to find itself in mid-May running against an energetic and well-liked Democrat who has none of Biden's weaknesses or baggage.

No, this is working out just the way the Republican Party wants it to. The slow build of the story seems to have lulled Biden into believing that it will disappear as a news item, the way sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump always disappear. (That won't happen, and there'll come a time when Trump will add a Tara Reade riff to his stump speech, or maybe even to his coronavirus grievance-airing, although I think that moment is more likely to come in the late summer and fall). The mainstream press is feeling the need to make up for the lack of early coverage, so there's a long New York magazine think piece here, a Washington Post editorial there, a Daily Beast story scrutinizing the women's movement's response to the story over there. Now it's a drip-drip-drip with MSM buy-in. In other words, it's Hillary Clinton's emails and Uranium One all over again. Those slow-simmering stories worked like a charm for the GOP.

This scandal can get Trump reelected. Joe Biden needs to realize that it will consume him unless he can persuade us that he's innocent. It won't just go away.

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