Sexual assault allegations against Biden continue to be a problem for the #MeToo movement


Today Politico published a story on the ways in which the #MeToo movement is struggling with its response to the allegations of sexual harassment against Joe Biden. Tara Reade’s story, like everything else, has mostly been wiped out of the news cycle by the coronavirus, but behind the scenes it continues to be discussed. The story opens with the obvious hypocrisy of Alyssa Milano, which I wrote about here. Unfortunately, the authors of the Politico story couldn’t help themselves when it came to describing the right’s reaction:

Supporters of President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by multiple women, have seized on Biden and other Democrats’ past comments about believing women’s accusations as proof of hypocrisy.

Yes, fine, we’ve seized on this glaring hypocrisy, but the story here is not the reaction on the right but the reaction on the left. In other words, the story is the hypocrisy itself, and it’s not just people on the right who see what is happening:

“The disgusting behavior that Christine Blasey Ford had to deal with from the right is the disgusting behavior that Tara Reade is having to deal with from many on the left,”said Sarah Ann Masse, one of the numerous women who accused Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. “Survivors in the world watch this, and those who have not come forward publicly, those who have not shared it with their family or gone to the police or sought out mental health support, they see this and it silences them.”…

“It really bothers me,” said former actress Louisette Geiss, another woman who accused Weinstein of harassment, of [Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund’s] decision not to help Reade financially. “What we’re saying here in the #MeToo movement is that’s it, time’s up, if you will. You cannot engage in this behavior anymore no matter who you are — Trump, Biden, Harvey.”…

“Because Trump is Trump, people feel like if they say something negative against Biden, then it could hurt his chances of winning. So I think it’s completely political,” said Geiss. “I feel personally like this is a really horrible position to be put in. But I do think it’s imperative that we also stand by what we’re saying.”

Activists who make a living from this are a bit more reticent to talk openly about the situation. Politico reports that it contacted lawyer Debra Katz, who represented Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh confirmation, but “Katz did not return messages seeking comment.”

The silence is deafening, as they say.

But Lucy Flores, who accused Biden of touching her inappropriately last year, says the silence from activists like Alyssa Milano and Katz is not the silence that matters most. She wonders when we’re going to hear from Joe Biden:

“We shouldn’t be asking what #MeToo is saying. We should be asking what Joe Biden is saying. That is most critical here,” she said. “He has not addressed this himself. He has made one statement, possibly two, through his spokesperson.”

I’m sure Biden is being advised by his people not to speak about this because doing so, even to deny it, would only give the issue more oxygen. What they are hoping is that the media, which obviously doesn’t want to give this the Kavanaugh treatment, will continue to do the bare minimum. Then maybe by the time of the convention they can simply claim the whole story is old news. In any case, they are clearly leaning on the media’s lack of urgency to keep Biden away from this. So far that plan is working.

Finally, there is one little tidbit in the Politico story I hadn’t seen before. One of the main criticism of Reade has been that when she came forward last year she only told reporters about uncomfortable touching by Biden, not sexual assault. The sexual assault part of her story only arose last month on a podcast. That dramatic change in her story has been pointed to by many people as a reason to doubt her credibility. However, I hadn’t realized that Reade wrote a post on Medium last year in which she said that she hadn’t told the whole story.

I am upset now and feel defensive. Again, somehow me talking about what happened, what Joe Biden did to me, is my fault. And I did not even tell the whole story…The small portion that did come out of what Joe Biden did to me resulted in me being bullied and threatened to silence.

That was published April 6, 2019 three days after the first story about Biden’s inappropriate touching was published. So even then Reade was saying there was more to the story. That doesn’t prove she’s telling the truth but I think it suggests there’s more consistency than some people have assumed.





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