POLITICS

TV Hosts Fail To Ask Joe Biden Questions About Sexual Assault Allegation

A woman has accused the former vice president of assaulting her in 1993. But you wouldn't know it from watching his interviews on TV this week.

A former Senate aide to Joe Biden accused him this week of sexually assaulting her nearly 30 years ago. But television hosts who have interviewed the former vice president since she went public with her allegation have so far failed to ask him about it.

In an interview with podcast host Katie Halper published in part on Wednesday, Tara Reade said she had been working in Biden’s Senate office in 1993 when he kissed her and penetrated her with his fingers without her consent. Biden’s presidential campaign has denied the allegation.

Since Wednesday, Biden has appeared on CNN and NBC, as well as a makeshift quarantine edition of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that aired on YouTube. But none of the hosts broached the subject of the recent assault claim.

Neither ABC, CNN nor NBC immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

On Thursday, Kimmel tweeted his interview with Biden as part of his “mini monologue” during an episode of his show, filmed at his home during the coronavirus pandemic. The two joked about baseball and discussed ways to curb the spread of the virus. The sexual assault allegation never came up. To be fair, most late night hosts don’t often ask hard-hitting questions.

The next day, Biden sat for an hourlong, live town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Though the event was primarily focused on the ongoing pandemic, some viewers criticized the network for not including at least one question about the allegation.

“How does CNN host a town hall with Joe Biden and not ask about the former senate aide who has publicly accused him of sexual assault?” tweeted journalist Michael Sainato.

On Sunday, Biden appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” a weekly political talk show where host Chuck Todd often takes Trump administration officials to task. 

“Just consider all that’s happened since the last time we had former Vice President Joe Biden on ‘Meet The Press,’” said Todd, pointing to Biden’s numerous primary victories, the spread of the coronavirus nationwide, and the surge of Americans filing unemployment claims as a result. 

Todd made no mention of the sexual assault allegation, however.

The Hill’s Krystal Ball interviewed Reade on Friday for “Rising,” a weekday morning show that streams on Hill.tv.

“What I remember at that time is feeling really shocked,” Reade said while describing the alleged assault. “I was surprised. There was no conversation right beforehand. There was no precursor. It just happened.”

Reade told Halper that she “went through protocol” and “complained” about sexual harassment in the office at the time. She said she did not mention the alleged abuse in that complaint.

Marianne Baker, who served as Biden’s executive assistant between 1982 and 2000, said in a statement that she “never once” witnessed or received any reports of inappropriate conduct.

“In all my years working for Senator Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” Baker said in the statement.

“I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager,” the statement continued. “These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades.”

Some journalists have questioned Reade’s credibility, pointing to a pro-Kremlin post she authored in December 2018 that has since been deleted.

“Why would a liberal democrat support [Russian President] Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin?” she wrote. “Maybe it is because I believe he has saved the world from a large conflict on more than one occasion.”

Reade told Vox News that she initially supported Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the presidential race but now supports Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Her assault claim follows accusations of inappropriate touching by multiple women, including former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who alleged Biden smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head without consent. Since going public, Flores has said she doesn’t believe his actions should disqualify him as a presidential candidate and that she would still potentially vote for him.

Biden said in April 2019, following the allegations of inappropriate touching from Flores and others, that he would be “more mindful” of his physical contact.

In response to Reade’s allegation, Kate Bedingfield, the communications director for Biden’s campaign, said in a statement that “women have a right to tell their story, and reporters have an obligation to rigorously vet those claims.”

“We encourage them to do so, because these accusations are false,” she said.

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