Media Coverage Of Kavanaugh Was Criminal. Here’s How They Can Fix It Going Forward. By Mollie Hemingway
“Coverage of the Joe Biden sexual assault allegation definitively shows that the media protect political allies who are accused of sexual assault and attempt to destroy those they perceive as political opponents. It’s nowhere near sufficient to simply note that fact. They must be forced to change their behavior and amends must begin to be made. They can start by apologizing to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and removing the “sexual assault” asterisk they constantly put next to his name.
Dozens of thoughtful articles have detailed the major media’s shockingly disparate coverage of a sexual assault allegation against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden versus the unsubstantiated allegations against Kavanaugh.
It’s a low bar, but the charge against Biden is the stronger of the two. Unlike the situation with Kavanaugh, Biden’s accuser Tara Reade has evidence she at least met her alleged perpetrator. Even Biden defenders admit that Reade worked for him in 1993. There remains no evidence Christine Blasey Ford ever even met Brett Kavanaugh, the man she accused of trying to rape and inadvertently kill her in the 1980s.
Also unlike the Kavanaugh situation, Reade has evidence she told multiple people about the alleged assault at the time she claimed it happened and shortly thereafter. Blasey Ford never tied Kavanaugh to any claim until three decades after the 1980s, and only when he was a nationally known figure being talked about as a potential Supreme Court nominee.
Blasey Ford couldn’t get any of her claimed witnesses to back up her story. That includes her lifelong friend, Leland Keyser, who was pressured by mutual acquaintances to change her story when she said she could not corroborate Blasey Ford’s account. Both men have very good reputations among their female friends, staff, and colleagues, although Biden has also recently been forced to apologize for his well-known handsiness with women in his midst.
Nevertheless, whereas the entire media put all hands on deck to push Blasey Ford’s story and help her smooth out its many problems, they more or less had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover Reade’s accusation, finally issuing stories on Easter Sunday after 19 days of steadfastly ignoring the claim.
For the Kavanaugh allegation, the media issued gauzy and hagiographic profiles of Blasey Ford and used the most sympathetic storytelling imaginable to dramatically roll out her allegation. They made the story massive by publishing as many articles as they could on literally anything that could be spun in Blasey Ford’s favor and against Kavanaugh’s. They applied intense public pressure against any Kavanaugh defender. They had their editorial pages pushing in lockstep for his destruction.
By contrast, the Times and other media outlets are hoping to dispose of the Biden problem with a dry, one-off accounting of Reade’s claim. Whereas the standard employed by the media for Kavanaugh’s accuser was “Believe All Women” no matter their lack of evidence (you might recall their many stories explaining the importance of that standard), the standard employed by the media for Biden’s accuser is full skepticism.
The New York Times even removed a line noting Biden’s history of handsiness with women, and deleted a tweet that said the same, at the request of his campaign. The disparate treatment goes on and on and on. . . “
Disclaimer: This is a guest post and it doesn’t necessarily represent the views of IWB.