NYT on Tara Reade

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NYT on Tara Reade

NYT has often been criticized for their double standards on how they treat (D)'s vs. (R)'s, and Lisa Lerer's double standard with regards to how they handled sexual harassment claims against Joe Biden vs. Brett Kavanaugh showed it in spades with their response to Tara Reade's credible claims. They tweeted and summarized their editorial position as, “The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden, beyond the hugs, kisses and touching that women previously said made them uncomfortable."

In response to the heat they were getting for that they edited the tweet and caption, released articles, and did their podcast with Lisa Lerer to justify their position. The problem isn't that they applied journalistic scrutiny towards Tara's claims, the problem is that this was newly found, something they never applied to Trump or Kavanaugh's accusers (despite a far less credible claims), that they spun their response, and most of all that their framing of the arguments is so easy to contrast.


🗒️ NOTE:
My position is not that I think skepticism of claims in a political campaign is a bad thing, quite the contrary. But I wasn't championing "All Women Should be Believed" like Biden the DNC and the NYT was during the Kavanaugh or Trump attacks. I have a problem with the flip-flop on their editorial standards. As well as the incredible bias in the way they frame things.
Context - After pressure over the insensitivity of the tweet and articles, NYT went back and removed “beyond the hugs, kisses and touching”... but stood by the "we found no evidence". [1] Of course they didn't do it in a journalistic way with a mea culpa, they stealth edited it, so they could pretend it never happened... like it was one of Joe's sexual assaults.

Premature editorial position - Their defense is that it was a couple of weeks ago and the details hadn't come out yet. So now of course it's more credible. Of course that belies the point that they put their reputation on the line by claiming they put their crack journalists and investigators, and was assuring their readership that there was no "there" there.

Yet, it came out of the following weeks that they didn't bother to interview her ex husband, her friends, ask her who else might know... and many others that came forward to let the public know that Tara's story is nothing new.

Most importantly, remember how they treated this different. They didn't publicize the story and troll for responses like they had with Trump or Kavanaugh, and then form an editorial position. They just formed an opinion before the story was widely talked about, anyone had a chance to com forward, or anything other than taking Lisa Lerer's word that it was investigated. They seem to have buried the lede like they buried the John Edwards, Harvey Weinstein, or Al Gore's sexual scandals. Jounralism has standards, not double standards.

Podcast - It is in that Damage Control mode that they did their podcast interview with Lisa spinning. Outside of that context (or knowing anything about her background or actions towards Republicans charged with lesser evidence), she comes off fairly reasonable. But the problem is that if you don't understand context, you don't understand what's happening or why: so the context matters a lot on judging intent and bias. [2]

Some examples of bias include:

  • It started by framing all the other claims against Biden with the least allegations first, and then grouping the worst in with those. "Oh, it was just a friendly invasion of space"... and then they casually mention that a “few” women might have felt it crossed lines and felt intimidated. That’s the exact opposite way they frame it with Republicans (Trump/Kavanaugh) — where they start with the worst allegations (sometimes exaggerated or out of context) then say there are many other women that also had problems. Either they are ignorant about how to frame a story to minimize/maximize publics perception (not good at journalism), or this was intentional propaganda to distort the perception based on party affiliation.
  • With Tara Reade they start by poking as many holes in Tara’s story as she can, looking for minor inconsistancies or that while she told the same story before she was adding details over time. Even bringing up direct implications, “Was she truthful? We just don't know". Then you contrast that with Democrats accusing Republicans and it's the opposite. Christine Blasey Ford had logical holes and a constantly shifting story with major changes (how many people were there, what gender, who, what happened, and so on) -- and they defended it as trauma was hard to relive, so we shouldn't hold that against her credibility. Again, pick one standard.
  • Evidentiary requirements:
    • with Tara, “The interns never remembered her claiming sexual harassment”… um, they never bothered to question all the people Blasey Ford interacted with that was never told about Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her. Why? Because it’s a personal experience that may not be widely shared — so bringing up who didn't know of it, is a distraction. The question is who did. And lots did that the NYT didn't find, or try to find. The reason you’d mention who didn't know, is if you’re trying to discredit the victim.
    • A lot of the interview is spent justifying why Lisa buried the story when she first got it (e.g. didn’t do journalism). This is kind of the point, damage control. But her point is that a lot of “it didn’t meet the levels of evidence required”… which would be believable, except the level of evidence and corroboration that Tara had and Lisa talks about was 10 times the hard evidence that they every had on Brett Kavanaugh. Yet, in that case, they felt it was too important NOT to report on everything claimed, no matter how little credibility of the person claiming it. Again, double standards.
    • Examples include things like Lisa says, “We couldn’t validate the background, other than her mom, brother, and a couple of others”, and that she suddenly left a campaign for no reason in a way that was a surprise, and never worked in DC again, and we have evidence she interacted with Biden. Ford had none of that with Kavanaugh -- yet Women are to be believed?
  • Off topic Russia diversion -- they started investigating that Tara once liked the Russians/Putin. Um, WTF does that have to do with Biden's sexual harassment? It's a great trigger word for the NYT readership that doesn't realize that the Russian hoax is all about Hillary and Obama's abuse of power, and not Trump. But it clutters up the story, either through journalistic incompetence, or a prestidigitators mis-direction. And again, did they ever question Christine Blasey Ford's background? Nope. They attacked people who did, as attacking the victim.
  • "There's no pattern in this" and this was considered out of character for Joe. All the other women just described creepy touching and comments. But there was LESS evidence against Kavanaugh -- he had his Interns come forward with high praise, no allegations of creepiness -- and the claim against him was much older and MORE out of character. Show a single place where the NYT or Lisa defended Kavanaugh based on how out of character it was.

Lisa Lerer's double standards - I don't like attacking the source (ad hominem) -- that's often a tool of people that can't argue the merits of their points. On the other hand, the character and patterns of the author do deserve some scrutiny -- especially when the point is whether they are being morally or journalistically consistent.

She's been 100% polemic on the topic.

In an interview Lisa Lerer did on Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh, or anything to do with Trump allegations, shows a completely different standard than how she framed things... there was no investigation into Christine Blasey Ford's obvious democrat activism and bias, her scrubbing and sanitizing of her social posts and getting a PR firm and Democrat representation before coming forward, and obvious things like that. "Women are to be believed!" After pounding the story without any hard evidence, the NYT/Lisa pivoted to things like how even if he was confirmed this deserved more investigation and how the poll numbers showed public sympathy (without explaining that they'd ginned up the charges to get those poll trends), and so on. You won't hear ANY of that about Biden. Either that means it wasn't a worthy track to take back then, or they're failing at their journalistic responsibilities now. But the double standard is obvious. [3]

Her writing on this was worse. [4] the New York Post, Reason and a few others took her to task for the hypocrisy, seeing the same things I saw in the interview above. [5]

Her piece of work included a lot of distractions. When you don't have a good argument for your candidate point fingers. Poorly. [6] So she made bad points like:

"President Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than a dozen women, who have described a pattern of behavior that went far beyond the accusations against Biden.

Wait, what? Donald Trump's sexual assaults were things like he kissed a girl, or he said something rude. The worst they had was locker room talk where he bragged that he could grab women and they let him because he was famous. That's why none of these were reported before he ran for President -- then a dozen Democrat activist women came forward on cue and made claims with scant evidence than he'd met them or knew them, let alone that anything happened: nowhere near the evidence of crime that Tara Reade has shown.

Compare Trump's behavior to finger raping an employee, telling her she's nothing when she turns rejected him, then having her fired for not going along. There's nothing close to that in Trump's background. That statement alone proves that Lisa's got her thumb on the scale.

"The president also directed illegal payments — including $130,000 to a pornographic film actress, Stormy Daniels — before the 2016 election to silence women about alleged affairs with Trump, according to federal prosecutors."

Actually, that’s a lie, they were never ruled illegal (the case was against Cohen, not Trump), the NDA wasn't the crimes they got Cohen for, and it was never proven Trump directed them. Even if Trump had, it likely isn’t illegal -- otherwise they would have plea bargained Cohen to get at Trump. The charges stuck on Cohen and Journalists don't accuse people of crimes that they've never been tried for.

They would NEVER claim “prosecutors claimed Clinton was a rapists and directed illegal abuse of power by his wife and campaign to discredit them including....”, and then list the 17 women that has sexual charges against Bill, when referring to Bill or Hillary Clinton.[7] Again. Double standard.

"Even so, Trump has at times attacked opponents over their treatment of women."

Um… Joe Biden attacked Trump’s treatment of women first. So the President didn’t “attack opponents” — the context is he counter-attacked them and the Press with their own hypocrisy. Assault and defense are different legal concepts based on who did what first, and credible journalist knows the difference between the too. Biden drew first blood — either Lisa doesn’t understand that basic concept, or is a bad journalist (not using words to mean what they actually mean).

Omitting that context alone should DESTROY her credibility for unbiased journalism. And if you look back at how she treated Kavanaugh and the hypocrisy shines in full. [8]


Lisa's representation of the NYT isn't horrible and sounds reasonable... if you don't know the context of all the things she's talking about. If you don't recognize how she and the Times treated Kavanaugh for lesser crimes, or you forget how they carried Bill and Hillary Clinton's water. If you listened to them on Trump and didn't read what the actual allegations against him were, you might think it's worse than finger raping an employee (technically sodomy and rape is forced penetration against someone's will, which is what Biden is accused of, not Trump). If you don't know that the Times doctored their own tweets, and that this is damage control for getting caught, again, trying to bury a story of sexual abuse against their side -- and you don't know all the other times they've done so. In the absence of knowing all that, this individual interview is quite reasonable. I just wish they had the same standards for the other side, and hadn't done all the other things first. But they did.


📚 References

Tara Reade
The FakeNews media has been actively suppressing information about Joe Biden's accuser, while the people screaming about Kavanaugh or Trump, are defending Biden despite a more serious allegation with far more evidence of wrongdoing. If Democrats didn't have double standard, they wouldn't have standards at all.
A never great News Agency has become a shadow of their former self: admittedly biased by their own Ombudsman and editors, as well as exposed confessions. They still have occasionally good content, but that can't make up for their more frequent bad, or their willingness to deceive, commit lies of omission, or present things in a biased way. (Never trusting their readership with the whole truth). More than that, some insist on idol worship for what they publish, and abject denial of their obvious and omitted bias: and that fuels the backlash against them.