Comment: One-time Biden accuser now in the ‘safe’ hands of Russia

Writers for The New York Times and others gave Tara Reade their credulity. Do they now regret it?

By Froma Harrop /

With her wild hair, peekaboo sweater and extraordinary claim that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden had sexually assaulted her, Tara Reade merited considerable skepticism. Any such accusation deserved a hearing, of course, but Reade was an obvious nutjob and shill for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Why did she have to be “believed” right off the bat?

Nonetheless, The New York Times opinion pages flogged this unlikely story to the point of imbecility; thus jeopardizing the candidacy of perhaps the only Democrat who could defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election. The Times is not the only newspaper in America, but it was considered one of the more reliable sources then. And it set much of the national conversation.

The writers repeated with utmost seriousness Reade’s charge that “Biden pinned her against a wall, shoved his fingers up her skirt and digitally penetrated her.” Biden completely denied the story. He was known at the time to affectionately nuzzle the backs of women’s heads, but nothing in his long history suggested anything approaching violent behavior.

In a Times column titled, “Will Biden Play by the Rules?” Jennifer Senior wrote that, whatever the truth in this story, “It’s going to be a fiery orange asterisk next to his name.” After all, Reade’s mother confirmed it.

In another Times essay, Elizabeth Bruenig cast some doubt on Reade’s account but seemed to regard it as a reason to drop Biden as a presidential candidate. She speculated that “it will demoralize voters and place Mr. Biden at a disadvantage against Mr. Trump in the general election.”

Left unsaid was that both Bruenig and her husband Matt Bruenig were prominent supporters of Bernie Sanders, then Biden’s rival for the Democratic nomination. How interesting that the column’s headline read “Democrats, It’s Time to Consider a Plan B.”

Another vertigo-inducing piece, by Linda Hirshman, was titled, “I believe Tara Reade. I’m Voting for Joe Biden Anyway.”

A Times editorial called for opening Biden’s then-closed Senate record for possible evidence of a sexual crime. Gobsmacked by that insane coverage, Biden asked the Senate secretary to do an extensive search for “any and all other documents in the records that relate to the allegation.”

“This is a start,” the editorial declared, “but it does not go far enough.” Any serious inquiry had to include opening closed records from Biden’s Senate career.

Then there was the piece by media writer Ben Smith, accusatorily titled “Why Won’t TV News Book Tara Reade?”

Perhaps it was because her story was increasingly looking like 100 percent BS. Perhaps it was all the lies popping out of her biography. Perhaps it was her gushing over the magnificent virility of Putin, his love of animals, his gentleness combined with strength.

It was no secret that Putin wanted the malleable Donald Trump as president. Biden was the strongest candidate to beat his boy.

The children at the left-wing site The Intercept were totally in the bag for Sanders. They thus found use for the Reade story and, who knows, may have actually believed it. Ryan Grim went as far as to call out The Times for treating questions about Reade’s phony academic claims with inadequate sensitivity.

“The documents do make it clear” Grim wrote, “that the story Reade told of her graduation — that it was handled in a unique, private way due to her domestic violence-related legal name change — is consistent with the records in her file.”

Fox News picked up on it all. Why wouldn’t they?

Russian spy Maria Butina is now helping Reade obtain Russian citizenship. “When I got off the plane in Moscow,” Reade said, “for the first time in a very long time I felt safe, and I felt heard, and I felt respected.”


Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. Email her at Copyright 2023,

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