Saturday, May 02, 2020


AP has a story today about Tara Reade's sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. Here's the lede:
Tara Reade, the former Senate staffer who alleges Joe Biden sexually assaulted her 27 years ago, says she filed a limited report with a congressional personnel office that did not explicitly accuse him of sexual assault or harassment.

“I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable,” Reade said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. “I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault.”

Reade said she described her issues with Biden but “the main word I used — and I know I didn’t use sexual harassment — I used ‘uncomfortable.’ And I remember ‘retaliation.’”

Reade described the report after the AP discovered additional transcripts and notes from its interviews with Reade last year in which she says she “chickened out” after going to the Senate personnel office. The AP interviewed Reade in 2019 after she accused Biden of uncomfortable and inappropriate touching. She did not raise allegations of sexual assault against Biden until this year, around the time he became the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Reade has disputed the story, in a confusing way.
Tara Reade slammed The Associated Press on Saturday for its framing of a story regarding her Senate personnel complaint she filed against her former boss Joe Biden, calling for the news outlet to "retract" its headline.

The AP ran an exclusive on Saturday with the initial headline, "Harassment, assault absent in Biden complaint." The report details how she recalled using language like "uncomfortable" and "retaliation" instead of the term "sexual harassment."

"This is false," Reade had tweeted in response to a tweet from AP Politics, which read: "Tara Reade says a Senate report she filed against Joe Biden didn’t refer to sexual harassment or assault."

Reade later told Fox News that the "story itself is correct" but that the headline is "wrong."

An Associated Press spokesperson told Fox News that it "stands by its story."

"I do not know what is on the form until we see it. I filed a sexual harassment complaint and included retaliation," Reade said.

Reade said she told The AP that she had filed an "intake form" regarding sexual harassment but did not disclose the alleged sexual assault in the complaint.
The AP story said that Reade "did not explicitly accuse [Biden] of sexual assault or harassment" and Reade says the "story itself is correct," but she also says she "filed a sexual harassment complaint." Can you make sense of this? I can't.

But to me the most important detail in the AP story is something that emerges about a couple of interviews Reade gave to AP in 2019. I've added emphasis below:
During one of the April 2019 interviews with the AP, she said Biden rubbed her shoulders and neck and played with her hair. She said she was asked by an aide in Biden’s Senate office to dress more conservatively and told “don’t be so sexy.”

She said of Biden: “I wasn’t scared of him, that he was going to take me in a room or anything. It wasn’t that kind of vibe.”
Wait, what?

I accept the notion that victims of sexual violence will often struggle to tell their stories and may need time to summon the courage to tell the whole truth -- but here was Reade in 2019 telling at least a partial story about Biden's boorish behavior (which I believe) and specifically denying that she felt Biden was the kind of person who'd do precisely what she would accuse him of doing a year later. In this 2019 quote, she isn't just withholding details about Biden's alleged conduct that she subsequently described -- she's accusing him of some forms of bad behavior while telling us that, in her opinion, he wasn't the sort of man who engaged in the kind of behavior she now says he did engage in.

Am I wrong to focus on that? Or should I accept that victims sometimes accuse perpetrators of some forms of misconduct while initially denying the worst conduct the perpetrators actually engaged in?

I agree that Joe Biden was a creepy shoulder-rubber. I can imagine him being a sexist who'd want a staffer to serve drinks because he liked her legs. That's not good. But nothing has made me question Reade's story of more extreme behavior on Biden's part -- sexual assault -- the way this does.

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