Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Double Game behind the Biden Double Standard? - Jonathan F. Keiler

by Jonathan F. Keiler

The New York Times does the bidding of the Biden campaign. Are we surprised?

On April 12, the Washington Post and New York Times broke – and really carefully soft-pedaled -- a story that a woman named Tara Reade had accused Joe Biden of a sexual assault dating from 1993. Some other mainstream news outlets covered the story as well (e.g., “NBC News Online” but evidently not broadcast) in a similarly dismissive manner. The Post put the small headline below the fold in its April 13 print edition. 

Conservative media immediately noted the obvious double standard between this skeptical reportage, and the hysterical “She must be believed!” coverage by the same outlets of much less credible accusations against Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. That’s a story in and of itself. But it is also worth asking why these outlets bothered to report Reade’s claim at all, given that some major outlets (such as CNN) ignored the story entirely. Their readership would not care, and the mainstream media routinely effectively controls what many Americans “know” simply by what it chooses report, and what it doesn’t. The coronavirus “crisis” being exhibit number one.

Vanity Fair breathlessly announced on April 14 that the “media floodgates” had opened on the story, but that’s certainly an exaggeration. For example, on the “NBC Nightly News” April 15, the coverage was entirely about the coronavirus outbreak, including a long and frankly embarrassing interview with a weeping middle-aged male nurse insisting the country remain on lockdown. There was no mention of the Biden allegations.

The decision by the Times, Post, and a few other mainstream outlets to report the story at all is worth examining given their power to drive national events and public attention. Let’s consider three possibilities.

First, as responsible news organizations run by highly ethical journalists they had a duty to report the allegations, given their seriousness, so that the American people could remain informed. Okay -- I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing before we move on to possibility number two. 

Second, they wanted to air the accusation, undermine it and then dismiss it, in order to inoculate Biden from Reade in the general election campaign. This presumption is entirely true to a degree. We know this because the Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, admitted as much in an extraordinary and humiliating interview with the Times’ own media reporter, who questioned Baquet about the evident double-standard in reporting. At the request of the Biden campaign, the Times edited the story to omit prior accusations that Biden’s touchy-feely habits and hair-sniffing violated the women subjected to it. 

Baquet’s coordination with the Biden campaign leaves little doubt that the Times story served the political purpose described above. We can also assume that the Post and “NBC Online” ran their own stories for similar reasons. Indeed, all the stories read almost exactly the same, as if written by drones programed in similar left-wing journalism schools. They all begin with excuses as to why it took three weeks to come out with the story after Reade’s most serious allegations went public. Then skeptical reporting of the allegation, followed by digressions into similar accusations against President Trump, followed by trumpeting of alleged inconsistencies and denials from the Biden camp. 

Quite a difference from the frenzied and credulous reportage by all these outlets of Christine Blasey Ford’s thin and completely unsubstantiated accusations against Kavanaugh, not to mention the uncritical parroting of even more outlandish claims, such as those promoted by convicted fraudster Michael Avenatti. 

And it might be coincidental that the news about Reade came out at roughly the same time Biden’s former rivals (Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren), and former boss (Barack Obama) finally deigned to deliver endorsements, but it might not. The endorsements helped to tamp down further any damage the Reade accusations might do, and seemed to indicate that these Democrat worthies were unbothered by them.

However, while it’s fun to mock pseudo-journalists like Baquet, it is also unwise to underestimate them. Baquet is clearly well-connected to the Biden campaign. But it is also safe to assume he and his fellow travelers at the Post are similarly well-connected to the Democrat power brokers that ultimately will decide whether or not Joe Biden will be the nominee. 

This finally brings us to possibility number three, which is that airing and pooh-poohing Reade’s accusations now, doesn’t mean that they can’t be amplified and used against Biden later on, should that become necessary. Reporting the accusations now, however much these outlets soft-pedal it, will enhance their credibility later, should the Times and the Post want to take Biden down. 

It’s hard to think of a recent Democrat presidential candidate less enthusiastically supported by the mainstream press and his party than Biden. Sanders, Warren, and especially Obama took a good long time to deliver their endorsements, which were lukewarm at best. And the party’s hard left, as represented by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has yet to fall in line.

Biden’s many failings, but especially his utter lack of dynamism and mental lapses, still leave many wondering whether he will ultimately be the Democrat standard bearer. So speculation continues to run that the Democrats remain hungry for an alternative, be that Andrew Cuomo or someone else. 

The Reade accusations could, properly hyped up by the same press that’s protecting Biden now, help usher him out of the way, should the Democrat powers-that-be determine it’s necessary.

Jonathan F. Keiler


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