As the democratic party reluctantly selected Joe Biden as their nominee for President this year, seemingly the worst thing ever happened: Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault of a former staffer named Tara (a.k.a Alexandra) Reade who is now 56. This accusation came right after a weeks-long kerfuffle about Joe Biden smelling women’s hair, hugging, and having more contact than might be normal. It should be noted that we struggled with running this story because of many of the issues around the accusation. We will dive into much of that in the content that follows.
We would like to state from the very start that we believe every accusation of sexual assault should be taken seriously and that such accusations need to follow the evidence and that the personal life of the accuser does not make or break their accusation as such.
Who is Tara Reade?
Tara Reade was a Biden staffer in his Senate office from late 1992 into the summer of 1993. She was in his office for less than a year. During that time, she has said that Biden digitally penetrated her in his office and a different account says that it also happened in a office building hallway. According to reporting from CNN, she told a friend that she felt like she was being let go due to a medical issue she was battling at the time. According to her and her friends and family she did not make light of the sexual assault at the time. This has made any corroboration from others at the time difficut.
Although Tara only worked for Joe Biden for a short while, she parlayed that into several manipulative relationships with others. Her career trajectory is a bit odd, she went to college in Seattle and served as a victim advocate in the King County prosecution office. Besides in Joe Biden she also worked for Congressman Leon Panetta and California state senator Jack O’Connell. Friends and others report that she often would name drop in order to get out of paying rent, get people to give her money, or other support. It seems like after her departure from Washington, her life has taken several difficult turns. In this reporting from Politico, they interviewed several people she had asked for money, skipped out on rent, or otherwise used along the way. Their headline was stark, “Manipulative, deceitful, user.”
In reporting first posted on Medium from Brian and Eddie Krassenstein, they interviewed friends who said that they did not believe her. The Krassenstein’s also combed through her social media and found her praising Joe Biden for ending sexual assault, congratulating him on winning the Medal of Freedom, and generally being a fan of Joe Biden.
Things took a different turn in in recent years. Suddenly she began criticizing Biden and making the beginnings of claims against him including that she was fired for having good legs. This also corresponds to a time when she switched from being critical of Russia, especially on domestic violence and women’s rights and turned to praising Russia including tweeting that she found Vladimir Putin attractive for a variety of reasons (his Lenin-like love of cats and his toned body among them). What is most odd is that her criticism of Joe Biden and her love of Russia seemed to have happened around the same time. According to her via Vox, it was because she was writing a new novel and watching too many Noam Chomsky videos.
What’s the Truth?
The other problem with the story is that she was unable to keep her story straight. The first inconsistency comes with whether or not she was fired or quit Joe Biden’s office in 1993. In 2009 she wrote an article praising Russia and claiming that her husband pulled her out of the DC beltway so he could work on a congressional campaign. In another post 10 years later she reported that she felt like she was blacklisted by Biden and that no one in Senate Personnel would help her and they told her to look for another job. She still spoke fondly of her time years later and felt comfortable name dropping to get what she needed.
This allegation is also not the first time her story has not been clear on abuse. When she divorced her first husband in 1996, during the process of getting a restraining order, her story about the abuse in that marriage also changed. Although her ex-husband chose not to comment to CNN or other outlets, at the time he denied many of her claims except that he had been violent. Her claims went farther than that.
What Happened to the Scandal?
The scandal around this has certainly died down. What surprised the Rouges staff the most is that this did not come out in his vetting to be Vice President in 2008 with President Obama. Campaigns endlessly vet their potential running mate to get ahead of any scandals and pick someone who has the fewest scandals as possible. It seems a bit odd that in all the work that went into picking Joe Biden as VP in 2008, this never came up. Admittedly, that was the world before #metoo and the allegation could have been simply overlooked. For those on the left, the timing of the whole thing seems to be somewhat suspect. Why would this come up right now heading into a presidential election?
According to her Twitter, she made implications that she was waiting for the right moment to release these allegations. this has caused some to say she is a Russian agent and while that seems unlikely an article that she posted online in Russian (a language is has supposed spent years learning) seemed to have been written by a man using masculine pronouns. A connection? Perhaps? Is their proof of anything? No.
Both people on the Left and the Right wanted the media to do a deep dive into the allegation and some people have accused of Biden being held to less of a standard than President Trump. What most people don’t know is that the media did investigate and there is reason to doubt. There was no one at the time who was aware of the allegation (unlike Christine Blaise Ford) and while there is no evidence to say it did happen there is also no evidence to say she didn’t. The troubling aspect is that she is not believable because of the problems around her integrity which have caused doubt around the allegations. Who she spoke to, why she left Biden’s office, and even the people she talked too at the time have changed with every retelling of the story.
One of the most telling things that has come out the research into this story is the lack of other claims. Women have complained that Biden has invaded their personal space but all 7 of them report that he did not cross the line into sexual assault. It made them uncomfortable was not sexual assault. And that is where the scandal stopped, at least for the media. By this time the pandemic was in full swing and the Black Lives Matter protests soon dominated the headlines pushing the Tara Reade story to the back burner and in some places completely off the stove. Ronan Farrow tweeted that he only investigated people with legitimate claims. Perhaps he found her claims to be dubious as well. If anyone would attack someone regardless of their political aspirations, it would be Ronan Farrow.
This New York Times article paints a softer picture of a woman who has had a troublesome life “played out in obscurity.” It could be that she simply wanted the attention (although I can’t imagine why anyone would open their life to the kind of she has gotten) or simply wanted a payday in the form of settlement. She still likes horses and owns at least one horse. She grew up in Wisconsin riding horses so that passion is still there. She is living in California these days and it just appears like the media has moved on from the story. The story isn’t clear and while I’m sure there will be legal implications for Joe Biden (lawsuits and all that) the allegations have not hurt him in the polls. Right now Biden leads Trump is every battleground state and in some red states like Texas. Biden has flatly denied the allegations and other staffers from the time reported that he did not spend time with junior staffers or made sure that he was in a public space when speaking to them. Ultimately, it seems like the allegations were dubious and that is why this scandal has fallen right off the front page.